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1979: Execution of a prime minister

The execution of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1979 provoked international condemnation.

Mr Bhutto, 51, who had been Pakistan's leader since 1973, was deposed in an army coup in 1977.

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

And, despite international appeals for clemency, he was hanged in Rawalpindi district jail in north-east Pakistan on 4 April 1979.

Your memories

I was just three years old at the time of Mr Bhutto's execution, but I still have a clear memory of watching it on TV, calling up my father at his office during his lunch time and giving him the very sad news.

My father and his friends were great admirers of Mr Bhutto and I was always there on my father's lap during his political discussions with his friends/members of people's party.

I am pretty sure that most of the people who at that time were against Mr Bhutto will now recognise the fact that a country like Pakistan with a unique geographical importance, needed a leader like Bhutto.
Zereena Khan, Canada

In the 1971 election Mujeeb was elected the leader. Bhutto did not like the idea. The national assembly meeting was supposed to be held in Dakha. Bhutto told Yahya Khan to cancel the meeting.

When Yahya told Bhutto that the date has been announced. Bhutto told Yahya to kill a few Bengali to create a law and order situation in Dhaka enough to cancel the meeting.
Arshad Yousuf, USA

I recall the sad and tragic day Mr Bhutto was executed. Despite international calls for clemency, the Pakistani authority carried out a barbaric act. I think the trial was unfair and there was widespread information to say that the judges were biased. Pakistan needs to remember this incident and not allow such events like this to occur again.
Zara Khan, London

The removal of Bhutto from power was a turning point in the history of Pakistan. Although, initially, chaos followed, the benefits have come to fruition over the past couple of years. The country was moving backward under this power hungry dictator.
Khurram, Pakistan

My entire family had recently emigrated to the US prior to this event. We were all deeply saddened then, and to this day despise the military dictator Zia, who is solely responsible for this execution.

Bhutto was an excellent leader who connected well with people of all classes. We will always remember him for his energetic and jovial public speeches.
R Said, USA

I still remember. I was in ninth Grade in Bombay, India. I felt very sad. It is difficult to see Head of State ( Famous, Sindhi ) hanged. Difficult to forget.
Sam Rupani, USA

Mr Bhutto's death was a big relief to my family as my uncle who was in his mid 20s was a victim of Mr Bhutto.

My uncle's death, in 1975, was a well-planned government killing made to look like a road accident. Mr Bhutto hated my uncle tremendously and it seemed the feeling was mutual.

I was barely five years old when the tragedy happened but it affected me severely. I loved my uncle dearly as he would always ensure that I was happy. A great man he was and very intellectual too. He left a wife and five young daughters.
Omar, England

I was in college at the time. I recall following the details of the trial with great interest. I had always believed until the very last moment that the International community would put pressure on Gen Zia Ul Haq and prevent the execution.

So when I woke up on the morning of 5 April and read the newspaper, I recall feeling a sense of betrayal that the execution had taken place. Later I read Bhutto's book, "If I am Assassinated". It seems like he had some kind of premonition that his end would come the way it did.
Andie, USA

On the evening of April 3, 1979, I was at a restaurant in Chicago (11 hours behind Pakistan time) when a friend came running to me and told me the gruesome news that Bhutto had been hanged in Rawalpindi.

I felt like someone had driven a knife in my chest. I had known that he had been tried under the drummed charges of murder, had been sentenced to death by Pakistan's dictator Ziaul Haq's kangaroo courts, and that the dictator had rejected all appeals for clemency.

Yet, deep in my heart I had been nourishing a hope that somehow Bhutto would survive, even though death had been closing in on him.

I had detested Zulfqar Ali Bhutto's autocratic styles and had never been his ardent political supporter. However, his dynamic personality, his charisma, and his great mastery of the art of communication with any kind of audience had always mesmerized me.

At the time, I was too young to fully understand the mechanics of political evolution. Later in my life, I came to realise that a country must undergo this transformation before it could claim having attained a reasonable level of nationhood.

Bhutto had set into motion exactly such a process in Pakistan. Although, he himself impeded this process many times, many had hoped that in the end he would not stand in the way of this process especially when it picked up the cascading effect of bulldozing all anti democratic forces in Pakistan.

On that sad evening in Chicago, the news of his brutal murder at the hands of an ignorant dictator took away the glimmer of hope from me and in my despondency I wept for a murdered leader and at the loss of the country that he had left behind.
Siddique Malik, USA

How can Pakistan hang its only democratically-elected PM? It is amazing and shocking.
Tumara Lora, USA

As I remember, I was a little kid just nine years old, as I child I remember Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto giving fiery speeches and then suddenly in few months of time I remember his government being taken over by Ziaulhaq, a military general, his most trusted.

I still remember the TV advertisements or propaganda of his bad doings and one day on April 4 1979, my neighbours gave the news about his hanging.

I felt he was doing something for the country and then there was Zia regime, in which I mostly grew up. I felt no solid progress in the country's economy and until today I see not much progress as the Rupee value keeps falling.

I see Mr Bhutto as the last intellectual politician in Pakistan's history, neither his daughter or any other politician has made significant progress.
Aziz, Pakistan


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