Nusrat Bhutto

Begum Nusrat Bhutto (née Ispahani; Sindhi: نصرت ڀٽو‎; Urdu: نُصرت بُھٹّو‎; 23 March 1929 – 23 October 2011) was an Iranian public figure who served as Spouse of the Prime Minister of Pakistan between 1971 until the 1977 coup, and as a senior member of the federal cabinet between 1988 and 1990.

Nusrat Bhutto
نوسره‌ت بوتو  (Kurdish)
نصرت ڀٽو  (Sindhi)
نُصرت بُھٹّو  (Urdu)
Nusrat Bhutto (cropped).jpg
2nd Chairperson of Pakistan Peoples Party
In office
4 April 1979 – 10 January 1984
Preceded byZulfikar Ali Bhutto
Succeeded byBenazir Bhutto
Spouse of the Prime Minister of Pakistan
In office
14 August 1973 – 5 July 1977
Prime MinisterZulfikar Ali Bhutto
Succeeded byShafiq Zia-ul-Haq
First Lady of Pakistan
In office
20 December 1971 – 14 August 1973
PresidentZulfikar Ali Bhutto
Personal details
Nusrat Ispahani

(1929-03-23)23 March 1929
Esfahan, Imperial State of Iran (present-day Iran)
Died23 October 2011 (aged 82)
Dubai, Emirate of Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Political partyPakistan People's Party
Spouse(s)Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Alma materUniversity of Isfahan
Nickname(s)Mother of Democracy

Born in Isfahan to an Iranian family from Tehran, the family had settled in Bombay before moving to Karachi after the Partition of India. Ispahani joined a paramilitary women's force in 1950, but left a year later when she married Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. She moved to Oxfordshire with her husband who then was pursuing his legal education. She returned to Pakistan alongside Bhutto who went on to serve as the Foreign Minister. After her husband founded the Pakistan Peoples Party, Ispahani worked to lead the party's women's wing.[1]

After Bhutto was elected as the Prime Minister in 1971, Ispahani became the First Lady of Pakistan and remained so until her husband's removal in 1977. Her daughter, Benazir Bhutto immediately succeeded her husband as the leader of the Pakistan Peoples party and, while under house arrest, fought an unsuccessful legal battle to prevent her husband's execution. After Bhutto's execution, Ispahani, along with her children, went into exile to London, from where in 1981 she co-founded the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy, a nonviolent opposition to Zia's regime.[2]

Ispahani returned to Pakistan after her daughter Benazir made a comeback in 1986. After the People's Party's victory in 1988, she joined Benazir's cabinet as a minister without portfolio while representing Larkana District in the National Assembly.[3] She remained in the cabinet until Benazir's government was dismissed in 1990. Afterwards, during a family dispute between her son, Murtaza, and her daughter, Benazir, Ispahani favoured Murtaza leading Benazir to sack Ispahani as the party leader.[4] Ispahani stopped talking to the media and refrained from political engagements after the assassination of her son Murtaza in 1996 during a police encounter, during her daughter's second government.[5][6]

Ispahani moved to Dubai in 1996, suffering from Alzheimer's disease, she was kept out of public’s eye by Benazir until her demise on 23 October 2011.[7] In Pakistan, Ispahani is remembered for her contribution to empowerment of women in Pakistan and for advocating for democracy in Pakistan, for which she is dubbed as "Mādar-e-Jamhooriat" (English "Mother of Democracy"), a title she was honored with by the parliament following her death.[8]


Nusrat Ispahani was born on the 23 March 1929 in Esfahan, Iran, hailing from the wealthy Hariri family.[2][9] Her father was a wealthy Iranian Kurdish businessman who initially lived in Bombay and then moved to Karachi before the independence of Pakistan and the Partition of India in 1947.[2] Before emigrating to Pakistan, Nusrat attended and was educated at the University of Isfahan where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Humanities in 1950.[2] Nusrat met Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in Karachi where they got married on 8 September 1951.[2] She was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's second wife, and they had four children together: Benazir, Murtaza, Sanam and Shahnawaz. With the exception of Sanam, she outlived her children. Benazir's widower and Nusrat's son-in-law Asif Ali Zardari was the President of Pakistan from 9 September 2008 till 8 September 2013.[10][11]

Family and political careerEdit

As first lady from 1973 to 1977,[2] Nusrat Bhutto functioned as a political worker and accompanied her husband on a number of overseas visits. In 1979, after the trial and execution of her husband, she succeeded her husband as leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party as chairman for life. She led the PPP's campaign against General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq's regime. Alongside her daughter Benazir Bhutto, she was arrested numerous times and placed under house arrest and in prison in Sihala. Nusrat Bhutto was attacked by police with batons while attending a cricket match at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, when the crowd began to raise pro Bhutto slogans.

In 1982, ill with cancer, she was given permission to leave the country by the military government of General Zia-ul-Haq for medical treatment in London at which point her daughter, Benazir Bhutto, became acting leader of the party, and, by 1984, the party chairman.[12][13]

After returning to Pakistan in the late 1980s, she served two terms as a Member of Parliament to the National Assembly from the family constituency of Larkana, Sindh. During the administrations of her daughter Benazir, she became a cabinet minister and Deputy Prime Minister. In the 1990s, she and Benazir became estranged when Nusrat took the side of her son Murtaza during a family dispute but were later reconciled after Murtaza's murder. She lived the last few years of her life with her daughter's family in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and later suffered from the combined effects of a stroke and Alzheimer's disease.[2]

Illness and deathEdit

Bhutto was suspected of suffering from cancer in 1982, the year when she left Pakistan for medical treatment. For the last several years of her life, she had also been suffering from Alzheimer's disease.[14] In the mid-1990s, particularly after the death of her son Mir Murtaza Bhutto in 1996, she withdrew from public life. Party sources suggest this may also have coincided with the time that she began to show symptoms of Alzheimer's.[citation needed]

According to her senior party leader, Bhutto's disease was so advanced that she was even unaware of the assassination of her daughter, Benazir.[15] She used a ventilator until her last days. She died at the age of 82 in the Iranian Hospital Dubai on 23 October 2011.[14] Her body was flown to her hometown of Garhi Khuda Bakhsh in the Larkana District the next day, and was buried next to her husband and children in the Bhutto family mausoleum at a ceremony attended by thousands of mourners.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Newspaper, From the (24 October 2011). "Nusrat Bhutto's death — end of an era". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Bhutto". Archived from the original on 6 February 2019. Retrieved 1 November 2010.
  3. ^ "Begum Nusrat Bhutto: First Lady of Pakistan who fought to keep her". The Independent. 28 October 2011. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  4. ^ Ali, Tariq (13 December 2007). "Daughter of the West". London Review of Books. pp. 3–9. ISSN 0260-9592. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  5. ^ "Nusrat goes with many historic secrets". Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  6. ^ "Touched by tragedy: Exclusive extracts from Fatima Bhutto's new book - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  7. ^ Leading News (25 October 2011). "Mother of Democracy Nusrat Bhutto laid to rest". Pakistan Tribune. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  8. ^ Gilani, MBBS, Syed Nazir. "Death in six instalments". Pakistan Observer. Archived from the original on 24 April 2012. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  9. ^ "Untitled Document".
  10. ^ Partner, The Media Group | Publishing (2 December 2017). "Special Report: After the assassination 2008-2013". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  11. ^ Library, CNN. "Asif Ali Zardari Fast Facts". CNN. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  12. ^ "Miss Benazir Bhutto, the daughter of the former Prime Minister, Zulfikar Bhutto, and chairman of the Pakistan People's Party has been released from detention and has gone to Paris to be with her cancer-stricken mother". Financial Times. 11 January 1984.
  13. ^ Hall, Carla (4 April 1984). "The April of her freedom five years later, Benazir Bhutto's plea for Pakistan". Washington Post.
  14. ^ a b "Nusrat Bhutto: A tragic life". All Voices. 13 October 2011. Archived from the original on 21 July 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  15. ^ "Begum Nusrat Bhutto: First Lady of Pakistan who fought to keep her". The Independent. 28 October 2011. Retrieved 14 March 2018.

External linksEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party
Benazir Bhutto was acting chairperson from 1982 to 1984

Succeeded by
Benazir Bhutto