April 4 1979 - The Day Bhutto was Hanged

On this day: Bhutto Hanged
Dawn, 04 Apr, 2009 | 06:45 AM PST |

Ex-PM buried in family graveyard of Nau Dero
Four others await decision on mercy petitions

RAWALPINDI, April 4, 1979: Mr Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged to death at two o'clock this morning in the Rawalpindi district jail.

An official handout released nine hours later in the day said his 'dead body was flown in a special aircraft from Rawalpindi and handed over to the elders of his family who buried him, after Namaz-i-Janaza in the ancestral graveyard at Garhi Khuda Bakhsh near Nau Dero, Larkana, at 10.30 a.m. in accordance with the wishes of the family.'

The funeral was attended by relatives, including his two uncles, Nawab Nabi Bakhsh Bhutto and Sanlar Peer Bakhsh Bhutto, his first wife Shirin Ameer Begum, friends and residents of the area.

Begum Nusrat Bhutto and their daughter Miss Benazir, who are detained at Sihala, about 16 miles from Rawalpindi, had been informed that all the mercy petitions, which had been made to President General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq, had been rejected. They had a three-hour meeting with him yesterday in jail.

Mian Mohammad Abbas and three other federal security force officials, who were also awarded death sentence in the Nawab Mohammad Ahmed Khan murder case, are still awaiting decision on their mercy petitions.

Mr Mumtaz Bhutto, Mr Z.A. Bhutto's cousin, told newsmen this morning that he met him last on April 1, Mr Bhutto was sure a that a decision to hang him had been taken. He told him he knew that his life was going to be over but be did not know what awaited the people of Pakistan. He did not want the people to come out on the streets and litter them with their blood.

He asked Mumtaz not to give a call to the people because that would ‘reopen River Indus’. He said he was ready to die but wished that the people should live.

According to one of the officials, who was present at the hanging, Mr Bhutto was approached in his cell about an hour before the execution and told to prepare for the final act. He was told to have a bath if he wished. He replied in the negative and said that he had already had bath during the day.

However, he wanted to shave his face. Permission was granted and he shaved his face by himself.

Then he was told to recite some Quranic verses. The Superintendent, and Deputy Superintendent of Jail came to his cell where the Superintendent read out to him his death warrant.

A senior Army officer and Magistrate were also present on the occasion. Thereafter the Superintendent went away to supervise the gallows while the Deputy Superintendent stayed on to see his two hands tied together at his back.

He was then told that his cell was about a furlong and half from the gallows, a distance which may be difficult for him to walk, and he should, therefore, lie down in a waiting stretcher to be carried by the jail warders. He protested and said that he would like to walk the distance himself. But he was made to lie down on the stretcher and carried to the gallows by the warders.

Mr Bhutto was unloaded from the stretcher and he climbed up the stairs himself.
Several prisoners were reciting Quran in their cell.

No Written Will

Earlier in the evening he was contacted by a jail official with a query if he wanted to make a will. He said that he would like to write it down. Writing material was supplied to him and he busied himself in writing. But later before the hanging when a magistrate came and asked him to hand over his will so that it could be counter-signed by the Magistrate, Mr Bhutto said he had no will in writing and that he had already conveyed his wish to his wife.

Perhaps he had destroyed the will that he had been writing in the evening.

Before being taken to the gallows he had a 'Tasbih' in his hand and he was turning its beads reciting something quietly. The Tasbih had not been seen with him before. It was either hidden in his luggage or handed over to him by Begum Nusrat Bhutto yesterday.

When contacted by the jail authorities he still had the Tasbih in his hand. He was completely calm and quiet thereafter.

He did not misbehave or talk loudly till the end. He placed his Tasbih round his neck when his hands were tied at his back.

The Superintendent of Jail, a Magistrate and Medical Officers were present near the gallow. The Superintendent registered his formal recognition of Mr Bhutto and then Mr Bhutto was handed over to the hangman who tied his legs with a cord, placed the traditional veil on his face and fixed the hanging cord round his neck. His body remained hanging for half an hour.

Before it was removed the Medical Officer checked it and certified that it was lifeless.

One of the jail officials contacted this correspondent later in the day and said Begum Nusrat Bhutto and Miss Benazir were informed of the rejection of the mercy petitions when they came to meet Mr Bhutto at 11 in the morning yesterday. A Jail official, who accompanied them to Mr Bhutto's cell, was asked by Mr Bhutto what was being done to him. Mr Bhutto was told that the mercy petitions had been rejected.

Hs asked when the hanging was planned. He was informed that it would take place on Wednesday morning. Thereupon, he said he would like to get longer time than the usual half an hour with his wife and daughter which was allowed.

Then they remained together upto 2 o'clock in the afternoon. Since last evening the jail was heavily guarded on all sides by armed police which continued to be on duty today also. Parties of police were also guarding vantage points in the city.

The news of the hanging spread the city like wild fire early in the morning. People switched on their radios. The Voice of America was the first to broadcast it.

The BBC had nothing in its morning Urdu bulletin or in the 7 o'clock English broadcast. Radio Pakistan came out with the news in the city like wild fire early in that time two local Urdu dailies had already sold thousands of their special supplements.

For complete article, click here


Sikander Hayat said…
On 4th April 1979, a dictator Zia Ul Haq oversaw a judicial murder of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. We must not let this kind of thing happen again and the only way to stop us from repeating history is by not forgetting history.


By Sikander Hayat

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