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The pressure on Zia to hang Bhutto — view from the US

Updated Jan 26, 2017 10:06am

The following is an excerpt from a declassified document released online by America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as part of a searchable database on its website Reading Room. Declassified documents were previously only available to the public at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.

A document titled “National Intelligence Daily Cable” dated October 1978 contains an excerpt on the pressure on then president Zia-ul-Haq’s from the military establishment.

The cable, written “for the purpose of informing US officials only”, contains brief assessments on several countries including Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Brazil and Pakistan.

It reads: "Ultimately, Zia's ability to stay in office depends on the continued support of the military. Zia's inability to solve Pakistan's economic and political problems, his assumption of the presidency, his efforts to downgrade potential rivals in the army, and the belief that martial law is damaging both the reputation and the military capability of the army have all contributed to growing unhappiness among senior officers."

"So far however, military officers do not appear to be planning to move against him in office till he decides Bhutto's fate"

Another assessment report compiled by US officials dated February 1979 also reflects on Zia’s decision regarding Bhutto’s trial.

It reads: "If Bhutto is spared, the army leadership will be reinforced in its unhappiness with Zia and more inclined to move against him"

The abovementioned document is part of a database of 930,000 previously-confidential files released by the CIA on January 17, 2017. The CIA had disseminated historical declassified documents to its CIA Records Search Tool (CREST) since 1999.

To view Dawn.com's compilation of extracts from the declassified CIA documents, click here.