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The Judicial Hanging and Murder of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan


MG is an air warrior with a distinguished career and now a corporate advisor, writer, and intrepid traveler and novelist


A Foul Deed in Pakistan

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was a firebrand politician in Pakistan. He was a junior minister during the term of General Ayub Khan and later became foreign minister of Pakistan. Bhutto was in some respects a megalomaniac and his role in the breakup of Pakistan was significant. After the break up of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was able to get president Yahiya Khan to resign and he became the President of Pakistan. Later, he got a new constitution framed and he became the Prime Minister. This was the turning point because the army for long in silence after the defeat in East Pakistan was waiting for a moment to throw him out. in 1978, General Zia-ul-Haq orchestrated a military coup that overthrew him.

Ali Bhutto

The genesis of the problem that brought Bhutto to power was the 1969 general election. In this election, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman won a majority and logically should have been made prime minister of Pakistan. 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 East 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 dream of being the prime minister of Pakistan.

Bhutto as PM

After the break up of Pakistan Bhutto became president and later 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 a 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 expedite matters the case was straightaway heard in the Punjab High Court. This was a travesty of justice as the case is normally first heard in the Sessions Court. In this case, a bench of crony judges appointed by General Zia Ul-Haq heard the case.


Death sentence

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 Desai 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 a bed after such a terrible decision.

If at all Bhutto was to be tried he could have been tried on the charge of treason for helping break Pakistan into two parts. Nobody remembers the part played by Bhutto in the break up of Pakistan. Unfortunately for him, he got caught on the wrong side of the Army and as is the won't in Pakistan, Bhutto paid a terrible price to be hanged like a common criminal. I can recollect only one other similar case where a prime minister was hanged and that was in Turkey which hanged its Prime Minister on charges of corruption.

Last word

The murder of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto did not end the politics of blood. General Zia Ul-Haq who became president after a military coup was assassinated in 1989 when the plane in which he was traveling was sabotaged and crashed. History repeated itself in 1998 when General Pervez Musharraf in another military coup ousted the elected Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and got him sentenced to prison in life on charges of treason. Later he relented on pressure from Saudi Arabia and sent him into exile for 10 years. Musharraf was himself overthrown in 2009 and had to flee the country as he was being tried for the murder of Benazir Bhutto and the Baloch leader Bugti


MG Singh (author) from UAE on September 25, 2020:

Yes, Thanks.

MG Singh (author) from UAE on September 25, 2020:

Yes, he was a Mohajir and that's the reason Bhutto made him chief thinking he had no roots in Pakistan and would be no threat.

MG Singh (author) from UAE on September 21, 2020:

Yes, tom, but he was hanged on corruption charges. Bhutto was hanged on a false charge of murder.

tom on September 21, 2020:

adnan menderes of turkey was hanged

Suzie from Carson City on May 26, 2012:

MG....Of course I am aware enough to know as with anything "political" there are many sides and many different views and opinions. Also, "Reconcilliation" was written by Benazir herself, and I would expect it to be favorable....but it was not clear within the pages of this book that her husband was anything but100% supportive of her beliefs and goals.

I will look forward to the hub you plan to write in detail. I am an open-minded individual and always want to be advised of others views. As for her seems that "gossip" may be the culprit?

Please let me know when you have wrtten about Benazir!

MG Singh (author) from UAE on May 26, 2012:

Dear fpherj48, Thank you for your comment. I am afraid Benazir squandered a great opportunity to lead Pakistan forward. She was hemmed by the activities of her husband Ali Zardari ( now President of Pak) who was known as Mr. 10%. She failed on many fronts and above all there are tales that she knew of the killing of her brother. Corruption rode on a horse under her stewardship. I shall write in detail about it, but thank you for sparing your precious time to comment.

Suzie from Carson City on May 26, 2012:

MG....I wanted to comment on this hub, to say that this man's daughter, "Benazir," became a respected heroine to me, after I read her powerful book, "Reconcilliation." I still remember, feeling the need to read many pages over and over, so that I could fully comprehend the political atmosphere and activities of a country I knew very little about.

Benazir's courage and her devotion to the people of her beloved country, Pakistan, was beyond any I had known of any other woman in history. She stood up, unafraid and outspoken for her core beliefs, enduring incredible hardships and sacrifice.

I couldn't help but embrace this woman as though I knew her personally and fully supported her heroic mission. I literally cried tears when she was assassinated.

What is your own opinion of Benazir?

MG Singh (author) from UAE on May 22, 2012:

Thank you for your appreciative comment Hubert

Hubert Williams on May 22, 2012:

Very good article. Judges every day make bad decisions. I suppose that after so many they simply walk through the procedure ignoring the facts, collecting whatever gratuity available saying to Hell with the human condition. You handled the telling of this story very well, I feel.

Deborah Brooks Langford from Brownsville,TX on May 20, 2012:

This is still going on.. unfortunately..great write

I voted up


DFiduccia from Las Vegas on May 20, 2012:

The wheels of the world’s various political machines continue to grind life into death for the purpose of personal gain for those in charge. Voted up for interesting.

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