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The Ghost of Bhutto

By Fay Willey with Loren Jenkins from the April 16, 1979, issue.

Thirty-two years ago, Gen. Zia ul Haq hanged then prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Here’s this week’s flashback:

From the April 4‚ 2011‚ issue

The hangman’s fee was Rs. 25, about $2.50. On the scaffold, a magistrate read out the black-bordered execution order while prison officials bound the condemned man’s feet, placed a black hood over his head and put a manila rope around his neck. “Oh Lord, help me, I am innocent,” the prisoner whispered in his native Sindhi. A few moments later—at 2 a.m.—Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, 51, the former prime minister of Pakistan, was hanged in a small, whitewashed courtyard of the Rawalpindi jail.

Bhutto’s execution ended a turbulent decade in which he had dominated Pakistani politics, and many Westerners were shocked by what seemed to be a savage act of political revenge. Many of Bhutto’s countrymen were horrified too, and the execution seemed to poison Pakistan’s future. In Islamabad, the capital, office workers wept at their desks. In Rawalpindi, Bhutto supporters defied martial law regulations imposed by President Zia ul Haq to shout antigovernment slogans and wave the banner of Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). “Death to Zia and Zia’s children,” they cried, tearing their clothes. “Revenge!”
A court in Lahore convicted Bhutto a year ago of conspiring to kill a political opponent. To some Western legal experts, the evidence and trial procedures seemed flawed. But Zia refused to grant clemency, and Bhutto refused to beg for it, despite harsh treatment in a fetid little jail cell. Appeals for mercy poured in from world leaders as diverse as Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev, China’s Chairman Hua Guofeng, and Pope John Paul II.
U.S. President Jimmy Carter made the last of his several clemency appeals to Zia shortly before Bhutto’s death. Later, U.S. spokesmen deplored the execution, which came at a time when Pakistani nuclear policy had already damaged relations between the two countries. The CIA learned recently that Pakistan is building a plant to produce weapons-grade uranium, presumably to develop an atomic bomb. As a result, the U.S. cut off most of its aid to Pakistan last week.
The first sign that Bhutto’s execution was imminent came early last week when his daughter, Benazir, held under house arrest along with her mother, Begum Nusrat, smuggled a note to her lawyer saying that the two women were to see the condemned man for “the last time.” On Tuesday afternoon, they were driven to the jail in a limousine escorted by two jeeploads of armed police and were allowed to spend three hours with Bhutto. They found him haggard and dirty, and because his cell was too small to accommodate them, they had to talk through a barred door.

Goodbyes

As the Bhuttos were saying their goodbyes, truckloads of police cordoned off his ancestral village in Sindh, and soldiers slipped into the local cemetery to dig a grave. Despite jail regulations that specify dawn as the usual hour of execution, Bhutto was hanged in the dark of night. His body was wrapped in a sheet, flown to Sindh and buried within eight hours of his death. Nusrat and Benazir were not permitted to attend the funeral.
Bhutto once told his wife that he wanted to “swoop in like a meteor” and swoop out again just as quickly. “It all sounded so romantic,” she recalled. The son of a landowning family, Bhutto studied at Berkeley and Oxford before joining the Cabinet at 30. Later, as foreign minister, he steered Pakistan away from reliance on the U.S. and toward closer relations with China and the Third World. Bhutto broke with the government in 1966, but after Pakistan’s humiliating defeat in the 1971 Bangladesh war, he assumed the leadership and almost singlehandedly restored the nation to an even keel.

Enemies
The charismatic Bhutto became the first politician in Pakistani history to make the illiterate masses feel they had a stake in their government. Yet he made many enemies. He rode roughshod over those who differed with him and alienated Pakistan’s mullahs by arrogantly flaunting his fondness for Western ways, including an occasional glass of Scotch whisky. In 1977, Bhutto was accused of rigging elections, and military leaders overthrew him.

To head off demonstrations last week, Zia put army units on alert, and riot police brandishing lathis (staves) were mobilized in major cities. At first, Bhutto supporters ventured only a few prayer meetings. As the days passed, however, the tempo of the protest quickened considerably. In the town of Shikarpur in Sindh, a gun battle broke out between police and demonstrators that left fourteen people wounded. In Rawalpindi, protesters erected barbed-wire barricades, burned a pro-government newspaper office and wrecked buses. The immediate target of all the wrath was General Zia. “Ek kabar, do admi” (“One grave, two men”), declared one Rawalpindi demonstrator.
Zia was gambling that with Bhutto gone, Pakistanis would soon fall in line with the conservative Islamic republic he is attempting to create. And although members of the PPP vowed to continue Bhutto’s fight, they had been left without effective leadership. Bhutto’s politically active wife and daughter remained under house arrest, hundreds of lesser leaders were in prison, and party spokesmen lacked national statute. Still, Zia has pledged to hold elections in November, and an army poll conducted last month indicated that in a free ballot, the PPP would win. Zia may have to clamp down harder on the PPP or cancel the election altogether, and either move might eventually lead to his own downfall. Whatever happens in the coming months, Pakistan seems certain to be haunted by the ghost of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

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17 Responses to "The Ghost of Bhutto"

  1. Fellow-Pakistani United States Internet Explorer Windows says:

    INJUSTICE BEGETS INJUSTICE.
    Bhutto did injustice to his fellow Kalima-Shahada reciter Muslim citizens and declared them non-Muslim in 1974. And then proudly took credit for taking over “Allah’s Job”. Then Allah SWT took revenge from him for usurping His authority. And he became FIRST victim of judicial injustice in Pakistan after 1974, when ZAB did injustice.
    BTW: In supreme court of Pakistan ZAB requested and begged that judges declare him Muslim, as he was declared non-Muslim by High Court Chief justice in his judgment. ZAB gave argument that according to Holy Quran anyone who recites Kalima-Shahada is a Muslim.
    In other words: IDIOT Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto learned before he was HANGED LIKE A DOG that declaring some reciter of Kalima-Shahada is wrong and no Muslim has right to declare another Muslim as non-Muslim (Kafir).
    Allah-O-Akbar (God is Great).

  2. Fellow-Pakistani United States Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Bhutto did much worse to reciters of kalima-shahada than what happened to him.
    THE WORSE THING TO DO TO A MUSLIM IS TO CALL HIM A NON-MUSLIM.
    Bhutto did that.
    In comparison to that his murder was NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. [...] The Ghost of Bhutto [...]

  4. Talha United Kingdom Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Bhutto was stripped naked by his executioners to check whether he was circumcised or not. They wanted proof to deem him a kaffir and becuase he had a hindu mother, such allegations were levelled at him by the Islamists.

    Even in his court case, charges of his unIslamic behaviour were repeated and the prosecutor called him a non Muslim. To this, Bhutto replied that the Prophet had stated that whoso ever calls himself a Muslim, is a Muslim.

    Oh, the irony.

  5. Kamath U.R Canada Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Who is that lady wearing an Indian Saree standing next to ZAB? Is not the dress so unislamic and Un-Pakistani?

  6. Fellow-Pakistani United States Internet Explorer Windows says:

    @Kamath U.R.
    This lady (ZAB wife, Nusrat Bhutto) even danced, yes ball-room dance holding hands etc, in same Saree with US President Gerald Ford in White house, when ZAB was PM and on offical tour of US. The photo i saw in Jamaat-i-Islami posters during 1977 election compaign.

  7. Nadeem Pakistan Google Chrome Windows says:

    President Zardari when he was studying in Pre-Cadet College Petaro – was one of the students who were protesting against ZA Bhutto’s vindictive decision to get rid of Pre-Cadet College Petaro’s principal (Rtd) Commander Feroze Shah. ZAB while canvassing in Sindh stop by the College and wanted to make a speech there. The principal did not allow to step in because it was college run by the Pakistan Navy. ZAB never forgave the principal. As soon as ZA Bhutto became prime minister, he ordered the removal of the principal. It only goes to show how petty Bhutto was.
    A minster in Bhutto’s government Mahmud Ali Kasuri had nephew was studying in Petaro – in those days. The boy was caught for being leading an entire house in huge gay orgy. He was expelled – but because of his political connections in the Bhutto government and because the new principal wanted to keep his job, let the boy back in college. Everything is allowed if you have right political links. Personally I have nothing against gays – the law against them should disappear.

  8. nahin United States Safari Mac OS says:

    If sari is unislamic than how come
    prominent human rights lawyer was
    wearing one in pakistani tv show
    debating some dumb mullah.
    its on youtube.

    and why wasn’t nusrat also tried and hanged.

  9. Nadeem Pakistan Google Chrome Windows says:

    Nusrat paid a high price being the wife of ZAB – ZAB hanged, all the children killed off in mysterious circumstances and mentally and physically crippled by the tragedies needs to remain perpetually drugged.
    Saris! ROTFL

  10. viva India Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Bhutto’s mother was a hindu but he badmouthed her by slandering hindu religions. He preferred to become a bootlicker of the “fatherly” arab and turk invaders, plunderers and rapists.

    Not only Bhutto’s mother was hindu. Most pakistanis have hindu mothers and hindu female ancestors.

    Bhutto’s fate is the fate of a quisling. That will also be Pakistan’s fate and end.

  11. Takloo India Internet Explorer Windows says:

    A man who declared Ahmadis non-Muslim had to beg before the judge to be declared Muslim. Bhutto’s fate should have been an eye-opener for the Islamists, but unfortunately it is not. And surely they will suffer Bhutto’s fate, if not worse. Karma will eventually catch up with them.

  12. SSD Canada Internet Explorer Windows says:

    I am actually laughing at myself for reading such uch bigotted comments (above). People talk about “sari” — for God’s sake, when are people going to come out off what is “islamic vs non-islamic”? A sari ! Shame on me for even writing this comment — where I am actually participating in such rubbish!

    @Nadeem — “Personally I have nothing against gays – the law against them should disappear” — what a biggot you seem to be. Was the nephew having a “gay orgy” at your house? Was he sheltered in your home? Attitudes like yours reinforce discrimination and hate. Why not protest against the mullahs who molest young boys in madressahs? Have no guts, na? LOL.

    Thanks for the post!

  13. M.AKRAM KHAN Pakistan Google Chrome Windows says:

    “Zulfikar Ali Bhutto: A recognized Killer of Bengalese.”

    Crimes of Bhutto Family against their Homeland and Faith.
    Bhutto Grand Father.
    • Bhutto grand father was a killer of a man after killing that man he disguised himself as a Sikh and disappeared in Punjab.
    • Bhutto grand father appeared as a false witness in court against Mr. Baghat Singh who was a great freedom fighter and hero of subcontinent.
    Bhutto Father.
    • Mr. Shanawaz Bhutto acted as a traitor in 1947 against Nawab of Junagarh and Munader who has announced annexation with Pakistan while Mr. Shanawaz Bhutto helped India in occupying that state.
    Mr. Bhutto:
    Bhutto was a chronic alcoholic man(Diary of General Ayoub)and more over , her own daughter Benazir Bhutto has written in her book “Daughter of East” that he used to say that he drinks alcohol and do not drink the blood of people. While he was the main culprit throwing two nations of subcontinent India and Pakistan into bloody wars of 1965 and 1971, in which thousands of innocent civilians and soldiers were cold bloodedly murdered and injured and huge infrastructure of subcontinent was destroyed.

    Crisis of 1971:
    Politicians of two provinces of Pakistan, Sindh and Pukhtoon Khwa always had played a negative role in the life of Pakistan. In fact the largest genocide of 3.0 million people of Pakistan committed in 1971 in East Pakistan was planned by General Yahya Khan and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. both were belonging from these two provinces. Moreover these two provinces are the main hub of disease of ethnic and hatred base provincial politics.

    Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was the head of the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) in 1971. In the general election of 1970, Bhutto won 88 seats in West Pakistan as opposed to Mujib’s 162 seats out of 169. As per the legislation Mujib was supposed to form the government of Pakistan. According to some Pakistani high officials sources, at first president Yahya was more inclined to hand power over to Mujib.
    But Bhutto opposed Yahya’s decision. Bhutto represented the influential feudal lords. Pakistani military-feudal axis vehemently opposed the transference of power. They were afraid that Mujib’s democratic policies may adversely affect the existing feudal system of West Pakistan and curb the power of the top civil and military bureaucrats. So their representative Bhutto invited Yahya in the notorious Larkana meeting and together two shrewd jackals conspired to repress the Bengalese with military means and retain the political power in the hands of the West Pakistanis. This theory is plausible because such a brilliant idea is more likely to emanate from the arch Machiavellian: Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Yahya is more given to kill his fellow countrymen to show off his military prowess than formulate a brilliant idea to sort all the problems together: destroy Bangladesh; keep the power in the hands of Bhutto and him; make Niazi and the army the scapegoat of the war in order to divert the attention of the Pakistani people. Tajuddin Ahmed was right to think that Bhutto was the deux ex machina behind the political conspiracy leading to the devastation of Pakistan: “…..Bhutto is responsible for the unprecedented brutality unleashed nationwide. Seating with him is impossible. Tajuddin’s view on Bhutto as described by Rao Forman Ali.
    Bhutto manipulated the military monsters (Yahya, Tikka) to secure his power and maintain his vested interest in politics.
    Due to lust of power of Mr. Bhutto, Pakistani nation which was the best model in the history of mankind representing universal brother hood between two equal parts of population separated by a distance of thousand miles were separated, it took few months in separation of these two parts, but in future for very long time no country of the world will be able to present such model of Human brotherhood on the map of the world.

    All through his political career Bhutto thrived on conspiracy and intrigues. As often the fate of such treacherous politicians is to end up in the hands of the partners in crime, Bhutto was justified to be hanged by his own Frankenstein: General Zia-ul Huq in a murder case registered by one of his own party member Mr. Ahmed Raza Qasuri against killing of his father Nawab Muhammad Khan by Bhutto with the help of government security official, because Mr. Qasuri being an elected member of parliament visited Dhaka for participation in the proceedings of National Assembly while Bhutto was threatening to members of National Assembly that he will break the legs of those members who will go to Dhaka for participation in assembly proceeding. Its mean this chronic alcoholic Bhutto for lust of power has already decided to break each and every relation with East Pakistan. So about 16 attempts were made by Bhutto to kill Mr.Qasuri and in one attempt his father was killed.
    Now present criminal rulers are trying to hide their crimes by NRO and by taking the advantage of their rule on country, why they have not made such reference in courts when they were not in the power. All members of PPP including MR. Gillani, Mr. Zardari and Babar Awan are gang of criminals always hiding their crimes by deception and tactics which they are facing in courts of law from Peshawar to Paris.
    There is need to start criminal investigation against Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto for genocide of Bengalese and crimes against humanity by United Nations and for compensation of all those killed by Bhutto , Specially in East Pakistan in past and at present killing of innocent religious people of FATA by corrupted Zardari using government security forces and resources.

    Written by M.AKRAM KHAN.
    KARACHI,
    PAKISTAN

  14. Ali United Kingdom Google Chrome Mac OS says:

    Bhutto was the greatest PM IN HISTORY ..Allama Iqbal Uni,Nuclear Weapons,Poverty Reduction,Port Qasim,China friendship,Pak Steels

    all thanks to bhutto

    as for you religious extremists attacking bhutto, go to afghanistan and enjoy taliban brillant economic policies and prosperity

    a religious person may be a great individual but you dont want him as pilot of a plane . you want a skilled person to do that.
    Bhutto was a muslim he worked for muslim unity, whilst zia worked for saudi puritants
    pakistan has gone down hill thanks to the mullah lobby

  15. Muhammad Rafiq Pakistan Google Chrome Windows says:

    dear friends, What if we acknowledge the alcohol drinker as Human leader, all now we have poor’s blood drinker…
    ZAB have many on his credit for Pakistan. What this PPP tenure has given to Pakistan. Today we poors are even eaten up, 85000 Million corruption.
    kanjaro, aye paisa kithe ley kar jaso….

    rest assure

    Haram ki aulad haram khatee hai

    Haram ka paoda haram hai

  16. Z A Bhutto The great great motherfucker ever in this continents. Recognized Killer of bengalies in 1971. Cause of his nesty work he got the punishments by hanging. Son of PORK. Khankir Chele, Chotmarnir Chele, Banchud, Bokachoda……….Ebdless galia iss admike liee

  17. Zahid United Kingdom Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    The ignorant comments above are truly unbelievable, Z.A. Bhutto was the best leader that Country ever had since its creation. He was only fulfilling the wishes of Jinnah who was a lot like ZAB. The nutty religious lot always kill itellectuals who have a passion to create a better Country for the poor and the weak. Politics should be secular & have no part in running a Nation…

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