Prime Minister's Life
the People's Republic of Bangladesh
Khaleda Zia, Prime Minister of the Government of the
People�s Republic of Bangladesh, was born on 15 August
was the third among
the five children of her parents. She passed
her Matriculation Examination from Dinajpur Government
School and got herself admitted to Surendranath College,
Dinajpur. She was married in August 1960 to Ziaur
Rahman, then a Captain in the Pakistan Army who
proclaimed the independence of Bangladesh in
1971 and later became the President of the Republic
was the tragic death of her husband President Ziaur
Rahman in May 1981, that changed her entire life-pattern
and brought her into the mainstream of national politics,
and eventually to the seat of power. Power, however,
did not come automatically to Begum Khaleda Zia. She
had to earn it at an immense cost and personal sacrifices.
She encountered personal tragedies in the assassination
of her husband, courted arrests eight times in nine
years and had to continually undergo harassment and
repression at the hands of the autocratic regime.
But nothing could deter her from her mission of freeing
the nation from autocratic rule and reestablishing
a democratic polity in the country.
Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) which her husband
founded and the people, at large, looked towards her
for leadership at the critical juncture of the nation.
She stood resolutely, took the reins of BNP and with
like- minded pro-democratic parties and elements,
formed the 7-party Alliance and started uncompromising
resistance against the usurper of people�s rights.
the Parliamentary elections that followed on 27 February
1991 under a Non-Party Caretaker Government, Begum
Khaleda Zia led her party to a thumping victory, herself
emerging as the most popular political leader of the
country. On March 20, 1991 she was sworn in as the
country�s first woman Prime Minister in a Presidential
form of Government. Respecting the wishes of the people,
Begum Khaleda Zia and her party took the lead in switching
over from the Presidential to the Parliamentary system
of Government in order to give the hard-won democracy
a permanent institutional shape. She formally took
over as the Head of Government on 19 September 1991under
the Parliamentary system.
Zia�s Daal-Bhaat (lentil and rice) approach received
both regional and international acceptance as a tangible
programme for poverty alleviation in SAARC countries
as well as in other developing nations.
became Prime Minister for the second consecutive term
after the February 1996 general election.
party BNP restored the parliamentary system through
the 12th amendment to the Constitution in 1991 and
introduced the Caretaker Government for holding neutral
and free election through 13th amendment to the Constitution
government of Khaleda Zia made tangible progress in
empowering huge rural womenfolk in the countryside.
Her government brought about major reforms in the
education sector that included introduction of compulsory
free primary education, free education for girl students,
stipends for girl students and food for education
programme. Side by side, she initiated bold reforms
to revitalise national economy, accelerate production
in all sectors and to alleviate poverty. Agriculture,
the mainstay of Bangladesh�s economy, was given the
main thrust to achieve autarky in food production
in the shortest possible time.
good neighbourly relations, strengthening regional
cooperation within the ambit of SAARC, strict adherence
to the UN Charter and furthering world peace and amity
were the cornerstones of her government�s foreign
the 1996 polls, the BNP emerged as the largest opposition
party in the country�s parliamentary history with
116 seats. The party under the leadership of Begum
Zia formed a four-party opposition alliance on January
alliance participated in the October 1, 2001 general
election held under a Non-party Caretaker Government
and won the polls with two-thirds majority. Begum
Khaleda Zia was sworn in on 10 October, 2001 as the
Prime Minister of the Government of the People�s Republic
of Bangladesh for the third time.
after assuming the responsibilities of the government
in October, 2001 she announced a 100-day programme
to fulfill her election pledges to the nation.
has two sons. Her hobbies include reading, listening
to music and gardening.