Educated at Berkeley and Oxford, Bhutto trained as a barrister at Lincoln's Inn. He entered politics as one of President Iskander Mirza's cabinet members, before being assigned several ministries during President Ayub Khan's military rule from 1958. Appointed Foreign Minister in 1963, Bhutto was a proponent of Operation Gibraltar in Indian-occupied Kashmir, leading to war with India in 1965. After the Tashkent Agreement ended hostilities, Bhutto fell out with Ayub and was sacked from government. He founded the PPP in 1967, contesting general elections held by President Yahya Khan in 1970. While the Awami League won a majority of seats overall, the PPP won a majority of seats in West Pakistan; the two parties were unable to agree on a new constitution in particular on the issue of Six Point Movement which many in West Pakistan saw as a way to break up the country. Subsequent uprisings led to the secession of Bangladesh, and Pakistan losing the war against Bangladesh-allied India in 1971. Bhutto was handed over the presidency in December 1971 and emergency rule was imposed. When Bhutto set about rebuilding Pakistan, he stated his intention was to "rebuild confidence and rebuild hope for the future".
By July 1972, Bhutto had recovered 93,000 prisoners of war and 5,000 square miles of Indian-held territory after signing the Simla Agreement. He strengthened ties with China and Saudi Arabia, recognised Bangladesh, and hosted the second Organisation of the Islamic Conference in Lahore in 1974. Domestically, Bhutto's reign saw parliament unanimously approve a new constitution in 1973, upon which he appointed Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry President and switched to the newly empowered office of Prime Minister. He also played an integral role in initiating the country's nuclear programme. However, Bhutto's nationalisation of much of Pakistan's fledgling industries, healthcare, and educational institutions led to economic stagnation. After dissolving provincial governments in Balochistan was met with unrest, Bhutto also ordered an army operation in the province in 1973, causing thousands of civilian casualties.
Despite civil disorder, the PPP won parliamentary elections in 1977 by a wide margin. However, the opposition alleged widespread vote rigging, and violence escalated across the country. On 5 July that same year, Bhutto was deposed by his appointed army chief General Zia-ul-Haq in a military coup before being controversially tried and executed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 1979 for authorising the murder of a political opponent. While Bhutto remains a contentious figure in Pakistan's history, his party, the PPP, remains among Pakistan's largest, his daughter Benazir Bhutto was twice elected Prime Minister, and his son-in-law and Benazir's husband, Asif Ali Zardari, served as President.
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto belonged to a Sindhi family ( Bhutto family), He was born in Sindh to Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto and Khursheed Begum (née Lakhi Bai) near Larkana. Zulfikar was their third child—their first one, Sikandar Ali, had died from pneumonia at age seven in 1914, and the second, Imdad Ali, died of cirrhosis at age 39 in 1953. His father was the dewan of the princely state of Junagadh, and enjoyed an influential relationship with the officials of the British Raj. As a young boy, Bhutto moved to Worli Seaface in Bombay to study at the Cathedral and John Connon School. He then also became an activist in the Pakistan Movement. In 1943, his marriage was arranged with Shireen Amir Begum. He later divorced her in 1945, however, in order to remarry. In 1947, Bhutto was admitted to the University of Southern California to study political science.
In 1949, as a sophomore, Bhutto transferred to the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned a B.A. (honours) degree in political science in 1950. There, Bhutto became interested in the theories of socialism, delivering a series of lectures on their feasibility in Islamic countries. During this time, Bhutto's father played a controversial role in the affairs of Junagadh. Coming to power in a palace coup, he secured the accession of his state to Pakistan, which was ultimately negated by Indian intervention in December 1947. In June 1950, Bhutto travelled to the United Kingdom to study law at Christ Church, Oxford and received an LLB, followed by an LLM degree in law and an M.Sc. (honours) degree in political science. Upon finishing his studies, he was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1953. He was fellow of Barrister Ijaz Hussain Batalvi who later appeared in his case as prosecutor.