The Bhutto Archive: The day Bhutto was hanged.

On this day: Bhutto Hanged
Saturday, 04 Apr, 2009

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.-Whitestar

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.-Whitestar

Ex-PM buried in family graveyard of Nau Dero

Four others await decision on mercy petitions

RAWALPINDI, April 4, 1979: Mr Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged to death at two o clock this morning in the Rawalpindi district jail.

An official handout released nine hours later in the day said his ‘dead foody was flown in a special aircraft from Rawalpindi and handed over to the elders of his family who buried him, after Namaz-i-Janaza in the ancestral graveyard at Garhi Khuda Bakhsh near Nau Dero, Larkana, at 10.30 a.m. in accordance with the wishes of the family.

The funeral was attended by relatives, including his two uncles, Nawab Nabi Bakhsh Bhutto and Sanlar Peer Bakhsh Bhutto, his first wife Shirin Ameer Begum, friends and residents of the area’.

Begum Nusrat Bhutto and their daughter Miss Benazir, who are detained at Sihala, about 16 miles from Rawalpindi, had been informed that all the mercy petitions, which had been made to President Genera) Mohammad Zia-ul-Han, had been rejected. They had a three-hour meeting with him yesterday in jail.

Mian Monanimad Abbas and three other federal security force officials, who were also

awarded death sentence in the Nawab Mohammad Ahmed Khan murder case, are still awaiting decision on their mercy petitions.

Mr Mumtaz Bhutto, Mr Z.A. Bhjutto’s cousin, told newsmen this morning that he met him last on April 1, Mr Bhutto was sure a that a decision to hang him had been taken. He told him he knew that his life was going to be over but be did not know what awaited the people of Pakistan. He did not want the people to come out on the streets and litter them with their blood.

He asked Mumtaz not to give a call to the people because that would ‘reopen River Indus’. He said he was ready to die but wished that the people should live.

According to one of the officials, who was present at the hanging, Mr Bhutto was approached in his cell about an hour before the execution and told to prepare for the final act. He was told to have a bath if he wished. He replied in the negative and said that he had already had bath during the day.

However, he wanted to shave his face. Permission was granted and he shaved his face by himself.

Then he was told to recite some Quranic verses. The Superintendent, and Deputy

Superintendent of Jail came to his cell where the Superintendent read out to him his death warrant.

A senior Army officer and Magistrate were also present on the occasion. Thereafter the Superintendent went away to supervise the gallows while the Deputy Superintendent stayed on to see his two hands tied together at his back.

He was then told that his cell was about a furlong and half from he gallows, a distance which may be difficult for him to walk, and he should, therefore, lie down in a waiting stretcher to be carried by the jail warders. He protested and said that he would like to walk the distance himself. But he was made to lie down on the stretcher and carried to the gallows by the warders.

Mr Bhutto was unloaded from the stretcher and he climbed up the stairs himself.

Several prisoners were reciting Quran in their cell.

No Written Will

Earlier in the evening he was contacted by a jail official with a query if he wanted to make a will. He said that he would like to write it down. Writing material was supplied to him and he busied himself in writing. But later before the hanging when a magistrate came and asked him to hand over his will so that it could be counter-signed by the Magistrate, Mr Bhutto said he had no will in writing and that he had already conveyed his wish to his wife.

Perhaps he had destroyed the will that he had been writing in the evening.

Before being taken to the gallows he had a ‘Tasbih’ in his hand and he was turning its beads reciting something quietly. The Tasbih had not been seen with him before. It was either hidden in his luggage or handed over to him by Begum Nusrat Bhutto yesterday.

When contacted by the jail authorities he still had the Tasbih in his hand. He was completely calm and quiet thereafter.

He did not misbehave or talk loudly till the end. He placed his Tasbih round his neck when his hands were tied at his back.

The Superintendent of Jail, a Magistrate and Medical Officers were present near the gallow. The Superintendent registered his formal recognition of Mr Bhutto and then Mr Bhutto was handed over to the hangman who tied his legs with a cord, placed the traditional veil on his face and fixed the hanging cord round his neck. His body remained hanging for half an hour.

Before it was removed the Medical Officer checked it and certified that it was lifeless.

One of the jail officials contacted this correspondent; later in the day and said Begum Nusrat Bhutto and Miss Benazir were informed of the rejection of the mercy petitions when they came to meet Mr .Bhutto at 11 in the morning yesterday. A Jail official, who accompanied them to Mr Bhutto’s cell was asked by Mr Bhutto what was being done to him. Mr Bhutto was told that the mercy petitions had been rejected.

Hs asked when the hanging was planned. He was informed that it would take place on Wednesday morning. Thereupon, he said he would like to get longer time than the usual half an hour with his wife and daughter which was allowed.

Then they remained together upto 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Since last evening the jail was heavily guarded on all sides by armed police which continued to be on duty today also. Parties of police were also guarding vantage points in the city.

The news of the hanging spread the city like wild fire early in the morning. People switched on their radios. The Voice of America was the first to broadcast it.

The BBC had nothing in its morning Urdu bulletin or in the 7 o’clock English broadcast. Radio Pakistan came out with the news in the city like wild fire early in that time two local Urdu dailies had already sold thousands of their special supplements.

Begum Nusrat Bhutto and Miss Benazir were the last to see Mr Bhuttp among his family members or friends. Mr Mumtaz Bhutto was called by him through the jail authorities yesterday but the meeting could not take place.

Mumtaz Bhutto and Abdul Hafeek Pirzada left for the airport to catch the morning flight for Karachi after hearing the news. Before the flight they were told that instructions had been received not to let them leave.

They came back to the Paracha House in Islamabad — the bungalow where Begum Nusrat Bhutto and Benazir were detained before being shifted to Sihala and where Pirzada has been staying since his arrival here last week.

Foreign diplomatic circles were taken by surprise. Many of them had believed that some last minute development would save Mr Bhutto’s life. The British Prime Minister’s third appeal for mercy which was relayed by the BBC in its Urdu broadcast in the morning and the official spokesman’s statement last evening that the mercy petitions were

still under consideration did not make them feel that the hanging had already been scheduled for this morning.

However, several local newsmen got, the clue later in the night, three pf them who got too near the jail to see the atmosphere were caught by the guards and detained for the night.

Later in the day about 40 persons gathered in the house of ‘Dr Niazi, family friend of Bhutto, and offered Namaa-i-Janaza, They included Abdul Hafeez Pirzada and Mumtaz Bhutto.

Larkana Burial

Our Correspondent adds from Sukkur: The dead body of Mr Bhutto was brought to Jacobahad airport in an official plane. Mr Mumtaz Bhutto’s father, Nabi Bukhsh Bhutto and the first wife of Mr Bhutto came with the body. The body was given a bath and wrapped in a coffin at Rawalpindi.

From Jacobabad the body was taken to Garni Khuda Bakhsh by a helicopter. The body was taken to a corner where arrangements had been made for showing the face to the male and female members of the family separately.

Afterwards Namiaz-i-Janaza was offered. It was led by Maulvi Mahinud in the old mosque at Janazgabr Mr Nabi Bakhsh Bhutto, Sardar Peer Bakhsh Bhutto, Mr Ali Gauhar Bhutto and Muzaffar Bhutto were prominent members of tile Bhutto family who attended the Janaza prayer.

In the family graveyard where Mr Z A. Bhutto has been buried, are also buried his father, Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto, his two stepbrothers Sikandar Bhutto and Imadad Ali Bhutto and his mother.

The situation in Larkana is quiet and peaceful. Agency reports add; As, a mark of respect all the shops in the village remained closed but life was normal in the rest of the Larkana district.

There was no reaction over the execution of Mr Bhutto throughout the district. The situation was reported to be normal. After the burial a number of people came to Naudero to sympathise with the family of Mr Bhutto.

At the time of burial strict precautionary measures were taken in and around Garhi Khuda Bakhsh by the administration. A Press note issued by the Interior Ministry said the mercy petitions filed on behalf of Mr Bhutto were rejected by the President of Pakistan ‘after they had been processed in accordance with the normal procedure’.

Mr Bhutto, last arrested on Sept 17, 1977, remained confined in Rawalpindi Jail’s death cell since April 1978 when the Supreme Court started hearing of the appeals filed by him and from former officials of the disbanded Federal Security Force who were also sentenced to death in the case by the Lahore High Court.

After a seven-month-long hearing, the Supreme Court rejected the appeals on Feb 6 last. Mr Bhutto filed a review petition which was also dismissed by the Supreme Court on March 24 last.

The other four sentenced to death were Mian Mohammad Abbas, Mr Ghulam Mustafa, Mr Arshad Iqbal and Rana Iftikhar Ahmad. Former FSF Director-General Masood Mahmud and another FSF official Ghulam Hussain were also accused in the case but they were pardoned on becoming approvers.

Mr Bhutto was charged with conspiring with the FSF officials to assassinate former National Assembly member Ahmad Rasa Kasuri. But in the shooting on Mr Kasurt’s car in Lahore on the night of Nov 10, 1974, Mr Kasuri escaped unhurt while his father, Nawab Mohamad Ahmad Khan, was killed.

On this day: ‘I have done the right thing.’
‘I have done the right thing.’
Saturday, 04 Apr, 2009

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is seen here with Gen Zia in this photo dated Nov 4, 1974.-Dawn Archive.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is seen here with Gen Zia in this photo dated Nov 4, 1974.-Dawn Archive.

LONDON, April 6, 1979: President Gen. Mohammad Ziaul- Haq said in a telephone interview broadcast last night that he felt he had done the right thing in allowing the execution of ex-Premier Zulflkar Ali Bhutto to go ahead.

In an Interview with British Commercial Television, the president was asked whether he felt vindicated by his decision and whether he had any regrets. ‘I have a very strong conviction and feeling that I have done the right thing and done what is in the interest of Pakistan, he told the interviewer.

In last night’s interview, the President was asked why he did not grant clemency following worldwide appeals to spare Mi Bhutto’s life. ‘I am of the opinion that the higher you go the harder you fall. An ex-Prime Minister, who is supposed to safeguard life and property and respect of the common individual, once he indulges in criminal acts — I do not see the justification of the chief executive using his prerogative of clemency’.

He added: ‘Those who sent clemency appeals were only concerned about one man’s life. What about the other four people. There was a total of five men — and they are as good human beings as Mr Bhutto’.

On the interviewer’s suggestion that by hanging Mr Bhutto Pakistan might be divided in a very dangerous way and that sparing his life would have been in the country’s best interest, President Zia replied: ‘No, that’s absolutely wrong. There is nobody indispensable for a country. Nobody, whether high or low, is above the law. And this should be a unifying factor rather than a factor for the division of the country’.-Reuters

Bhutto: the end of a great promise
Dawn Editorial April 7, 1979
Saturday, 04 Apr, 2009

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.-White Star

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.-White Star

TIME alone can provide the necessary detachment for an objective assessment of the life, achievements and failures of the former Prime Minister, Mr. Zulfikar Al: Bhutto, who was executed or Wednesday last.

No one — not even the most impenitent of his political foes could have wished Mr. Bhutto to have ended as tragically as he did. But, such a fate was made almost inevitable by the fact that he was found guilty as charged and the death sentence passed on him was finally upheld by the highest judicial forum in the land.

The judicial verdict notwithstanding, concern over the fate of a man of Mr. Bhutto’s political stature and importance was only to be expected. There were appeals from foreign heads of State and governments and other dignitaries for show of mercy on humanitarian grounds, just as there were pleas within the country for executive clemency from a large cross-section of people—and not only from the ranks of Mr. Bhutto’s partymen and admirers.

These pleas were in no way a reflection on the judicial verdict in the Nawab Mohammad Ahmad Khan murder case as such, nor could they all in reason be interpreted as attempts to obstruct the operation of the course of justice in the country.

For the most part they were motivated by humanitarian concern which is a natural impulse. Legitimate political considerations having a bearing upon the country’s internal situation and stability as well as those flowing from developments in Pakistan’s immediate neighbourhood, too, must have weighed with a section of foreign dignitaries and local leaders of opinion in making a plea for clemency.

Such considerations cannot entirely be ruled out in the particular context that presented itself when the judicial process in Mr. Bhutto’s case finally ended and the ultimate decision whether to implement the verdict as pronounced, or to commute the sentence if warranted by extenuating circumstances or other factors, rested with the President because extra-judicial considerations and factors, including the larger interest of the community, are often involved in implementing judicial decisions in criminal cases, almost all constitutions in the world have provisions for clemency vesting the executive authority with the discretionary power to grant pardon or commute a sentence on grounds other than judicial.

In the case of Mr. Bhutto, the question of extenuation and other pertinent considerations must surely have been taken into account In such matters, the perspective for decisions cannot but be of the widest range and if, in that context, the weight of arguments tilted against Mr. Bhutto, one hopes that those arguments will prove right and the final decision to let Mr. Bhutto pay the forfeit of his life will come to be accepted as well-judged.

It is possible to have more than one opinion on Mr. Bhutto — not just because he was the country’s Prime Minister during one of the most fateful periods of its crisis-ridden existence. The main reason lies in the complex make-up of his personality and leadership and his style of government which were unique in many respects.

The key to a proper understanding of this highly gifted and dynamic political figure perhaps lies in his utterly feudal background; which was often at odds with his modern vision and outlook, his populist brand of politics, and his penchant for change and modernisation. As many events and developments spanning his long political career from 1958 clearly showed, often enough he failed to resolve the conflicts rooted in that fact and mad mistakes which were other wise not possible to make.

Some of his outstanding qualities as a leader — his brilliance, his capacity to sway the masses and his enormous capacity for work — must be weighed against some of his glaring weaknesses — his despotic manner, his lack of scruples and, most of all, his total intolerance of any dissent.

He set out to bring about fundamental and far reaching socio-economic changes — without a coherent philosophy or a propel scheme of priorities and without having the necessary cadre or any denned concept of social control. As a result, while no worthwhile success was achieved in the promised direction, in the process, the nation’s economy was gravely impaired and suffered jolts and dissipation it is still trying to recover from. The same story of ineptitude and serious gaps between promise and performance is true of many other reforms and changes that Mr Bhutto’s Government introduced during its tenure in office.

Perhaps the most tragic of Mr. Bhutto’s failures — and in a way the country’s — was the historic opportunity he missed for giving Pakistan a viable and well-adjusted democratic system which was, and still remains, the country’s foremost need. The time for it was most propitious in 1971 when he came to power as an elected leader with wide mass support, a comfortable majority in the House and, what is more, against the dark background of repeated failures and bunglings of successive dictatorial regimes.

But he spoilt it all by his autocratic method and policies and by smothering all criticism and dissent. Even within his own party he would demand complete conformity and obeisance, so that the party itself remained a helpless creature of his own will.

His last fatal blow to the nation’s democratic prospects was the rigging of 1977 elections which sparked off countrywide turmoil and unrest and led to yet another democratic derailment. It was perhaps in the area of external relations that the former Prime Minister was at his best. He was eminently qualified for the job, having seen the country’s Foreign Minister for a number of years under the Ayub Government.

In that capacity he played a crucial role in the shaping of some of the fundamental aspects of the country’s foreign policy which have since remained more or less unchanged. During his Prime Ministership, too, he generally pursued a correct policy, except that his drive for a leadership role in the Third World was overambitious, with its target greatly transcending the limitations of the country’s political, economic and diplomatic potential. No less important, the fact needs to be acknowledged that there was a positive aspect to the populism that he reached.

To be sure, he promised too many things to too many people and could not deliver the goods. But the fact that as head of government he confirmed the people, the correctness and legitimacy of their aspirations for a better life gave the ordinary people a sense of power and dignity they did not possess before. Many people rightly or wrongly, thought it to be a gift from him and were willing to cherish a most-dated cheque that they knew could not be encashed in the immediate future. The trend is an important and, in a historical perspective, irreversible development. It is a material force and will not disappear with, Mr Bhutto. Political leaders with vision and prudence will do well to recognise this change and seek to absorb this populism into the democratic polity that we seek to build.

We are yet too close to the events and emotions of the last phase of Mr. Bhutto’s life to be able to make a balanced assessment of him as a person and as a politician. It will be quite some time before people can overcome the hold of extreme emotions that he and his actions always generated among his critics and admirers and begin to appraise him in an objective frame. How history will judge him is difficult to visualise. But when it does, it will be possible to have a complete picture of the man, who dominated Pakistan‘s political scene for long years and who, with all his drawbacks and failures, remained a towering figure till the end of his life.