October 18, 2007 / 9:17 AM / 12 years ago

FACTBOX: Five facts on Pakistan's ex-PM Benazir Bhutto

(Reuters) - The Pakistani government has decided to drop corruption cases against former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, a government minister said on Tuesday.

Self-exiled Bhutto is due to meet party colleagues in London on Wednesday to decide whether her party members will take part in a presidential election on Saturday, when President Pervez Musharraf hopes to win a new term.

Here are some facts on Bhutto:

* Benazir Bhutto was born on June 21, 1953, into a wealthy landowning family. Her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, founded the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and was president and later prime minister of Pakistan from 1971 to 1977.

* After gaining degrees in politics at Harvard and Oxford universities, she returned to Pakistan in 1977, just before the military seized power from her father. She inherited the leadership of the PPP after her father’s execution in 1979 under the military ruler General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq.

* First voted in as prime minister in 1988, Bhutto was sacked by the then-president on corruption charges in 1990. She took power again in 1993 after her successor, Nawaz Sharif, was forced to resign in a row with the president. Bhutto was no more successful in her second spell as prime minister, and Sharif was back in power by 1996.

* In 1999, both Bhutto and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, were sentenced to five years in jail and fined $8.6 million on charges of taking kickbacks from a Swiss company hired to fight customs fraud. A higher court later overturned the conviction as biased. Bhutto, who had made her husband investment minister during her period in office from 1993 to 1996, was abroad at the time of her conviction and chose not to return to Pakistan. Pakistan decided to drop corruption cases against the former prime minister on Tuesday.

* In 2006 she joined an Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy with her arch rival Sharif, but the two disagreed over strategy for dealing with Musharraf. Bhutto decided it was better to negotiate with Musharraf, while Sharif has refused to have any dealings with the general.

An aide to the former prime minister announced in September that she will return to Pakistan on October 18 after more than eight years in exile.

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