Benazir Bhutto at the Karachi Press Club, 1986

Benazir Bhutto at the Karachi Press Club, 1986
This photo of journalist Mazhar Abbas and Mohtarma (shaheed) Benazir Bhutto was taken some time in May or June of 1986, a month after her return from a long exile on April 10 in Lahore. She had visited the Karachi Press Club to thank journalists for their struggle for the freedom of the press during Gen Zia-ul Haq’s martial law. This photo was taken after her address when she sat down to ask Abbas about the problems journalists were facing.

Her return home from a long time in exile that year was met by hundreds of thousands of people who demanded the ouster of President Zia ul-Haq in the biggest anti-government rally in Pakistan since General Zia seized power in a military coup in 1977. Benazir was just 33 years old then. Zia had lifted martial law a year earlier but had stayed on as president.

Writing for the Guardian that year, Bhutto said: “For nine years now my country has been ruled by a military dictator. Ever since the execution of the country’s first and last elected Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a reign of terror has kept the people in check.”

But the tide was turning. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto married by December 1987. Ziaul Haq died in a plane crash in August 1988 and in November the elections were held. The Pakistan People’s Party won 94 of the 207 seats in the National Assembly and Bhutto became the first woman to be elected prime minister.

“Later, when she came to power, she invited me to brief the federal cabinet on the wage board,” Mazhar Abbas told TFT. “I had covered BB for almost 30 years [and] interviewed her both for print and TV. [I] found her quite a leader [and] more tolerant than her father.”