The Judicial Hanging and Murder of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan
A Foul Deed in Pakistan
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was a firebrand politician of Pakistan. He was a junior minister during the term of General Ayub Khan and later became foreign minister of Pakistan under General Yahiya Khan. Bhutto was in some respects a megalomaniac and his role in the breakup of Pakistan was not minimal.
Bhutto was the man who egged on General Yahiya Khan not to honor the verdict of the 1969 elections that would have put Sheikh Mujibar Rehman in the Prime minister's chair. On the contrary, he further advised the General to launch a crackdown in Pakistan. Sheikh Mujibar was arrested and tried for treason. The rest is history as India under Indira Gandhi took advantage of a fluid situation and freed East Pakistan. Now we know that Bhutto was the catalyst that broke Pakistan with his own dream of being the prime minister of Pakistan.
Bhutto as PM
After the break up of Pakistan Bhutto became the Prime minister, but here again, he was at loggerheads with the opposition who accused him of rigging the election. Bhutto now committed a fatal mistake. He promoted General Zia ul Haq a junior general by superseding 5 other generals as the Chief of Army staff. General Zia showed his loyalty to Bhutto by ousting him from power in military coup. Bhutto was lodged in jail.
Now a diabolical plan was hatched by Zia and his generals to eliminate Bhutto. ZA Bhutto was charged with the murder of a political opponent’s father. The evidence to say the least was flimsy and to expiate matters the case was straightaway heard in the high court.
Despite the flimsy evidence, Bhutto was sentenced to death by hanging. An appeal was made to the Pakistan Supreme court. Unfortunately, Pakistan has no tradition of an independent judiciary and the Supreme Court by a 4-3 verdict upheld the death sentence. The Pakistan judges thus stood dammed before the world and Zia could now put his diabolical plan in action.
Zia disregarded all appeals from world leaders and got Bhutto hanged. It was a travesty of justice. The Indian government at that time headed by Morarji Desia failed to condemn the hanging. I wonder how a Gandhian leader like Morarji could do this. It was a shameful act and the Janta government paid the price by being trounced in the 1980 general elections.
Bhutto was a maverick. For all his faults he did not deserve to be hanged as a common criminal. Yet it was done. It will be correct to say that Bhutto was murdered with the connivance of the Pakistan judiciary. One wonders how these judges who upheld the hanging of Bhutto could sleep in bed after such a terrible decision.