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Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto Gets a Second Chance

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BENAZIR BHUTTO, who became prominent as the first woman to lead an Islamic state five years ago, has made her long-awaited political comeback.

After her party won a slim margin in national elections Oct. 6, she was appointed prime minister again Oct. 19. Ms. Bhutto ruled the country from 1988 to 1990, but her government was sacked on corruption charges that were never substantiated. Her Pakistan People's Party has led the opposition ever since.

Bhutto has built a coalition government with the support of minor parties in the National Assembly, including all of the country's religious parties. And she is confident of forming a similar coalition in the parliament of Punjab - Pakistan's largest and wealthiest province, which is crucial to her political survival.

The National Assembly named Bhutto prime minister by a margin of 121 to 72, with only the Pakistan Muslim League of her archrival Nawaz Sharif and one other small party opposing her.

Bhutto's path to success began earlier this year when Mr. Sharif was forced to resign as prime minister in July at the end of a prolonged power struggle with then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan. The power struggle ended in their joint resignations and new elections were called.

A commitment by the Army's most powerful generals to allow free and fair elections also worked in Bhutto's favor. In addition, the government of interim Prime Minister Moeen Qureshi remained strictly neutral.

``Having been in the opposition, she has learned from her struggle,'' says Zia Ispahani, a Karachi businessman and another senior Bhutto aide. Mr. Ispahani would not go into details on how Bhutto's government would differ from any other.

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