ON THIS DAY    4 April      Graphics version >>   BBC News >>
Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
1979: Deposed Pakistani PM is executed

Pakistan's former Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, has been hanged in spite of international calls for clemency.

Mr Bhutto, 51, who had been Pakistan's leader since 1973, was deposed in an army coup 18 months ago.

He was sentenced to death for the murder of a political opponent following a trial which was widely condemned as unfair.

The appeal process was also tainted by allegations of bias on the part of some judges.

No advance warning of the execution had been given.

Mr Bhutto's wife and daughter, Benazir, who are both under house arrest, visited him on the morning before his death.

They had been told it would be their last meeting but the military regime, led by General Zia ul-Haq, continued to deny an execution was imminent.

Autocratic leader

Few details have emerged of the circumstances surrounding the hanging but it is believed to have taken place at 0200 local time (2100 GMT, 3 April) in the Rawalpindi district jail in north-east Pakistan.

Pakistanis learnt of Mr Bhutto's death when it was announced on state radio at 1100 local time (0600 GMT).

Shortly after his execution, Mr Bhutto's body was flown to his home village in the Sind province and buried in the family plot.

His wife and his daughter were not permitted to attend the funeral.

Another four men convicted with Mr Bhutto of murder remain in prison.

Mr Bhutto, a member of a rich and influential family, was known as an autocratic leader but was respected internationally.

His death looks set to lead to Pakistan's isolation on the world stage.

The United Nations' Secretary-General, Kurt Waldheim, said he deplored the decision by Pakistan's leaders to ignore appeals for clemency.

British Prime Minister James Callaghan, who made a third appeal for Mr Bhutto's life only yesterday, expressed his "deep regret".

In Context
Martial law remained in force in Pakistan until 1985.

In 1986 Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's daughter, Benazir, returned from exile to take on the leadership of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) founded by her father.

In August 1988 General Zia was killed in a plane crash and Benazir Bhutto went on to lead the PPP to victory in elections in 1988 and 1993.

However, her government was dismissed both times - in 1990 and 1996 - following allegations of corruption.

The man who replaced her in 1996, Nawaz Sharif, was overthrown in a military coup three years later.


Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
^^ Back to top |