On this day: Bhutto Hanged

Published April 4, 2009

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. - Whitestar
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 oclock 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. Bhuttos 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 Bhuttos 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 oclock 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 oclock 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.

 

Begum Nusrat Bhutto and Miss Benazir were the last to see Mr Bhutto among his family members or friends. Mr Mumtaz Bhutto was called by him through the jail authorities yesterday but the meeting could not take place.

 

Mumtaz Bhutto and Abdul Hafeez Pirzada left for the airport to catch the morning flight for Karachi after hearing the news. Before the flight they were told that instructions had been received not to let them leave.

 

They came back to the Paracha House in Islamabad — the bungalow where Begum Nusrat Bhutto and Benazir were detained before being shifted to Sihala and where Pirzada has been staying since his arrival here last week.

 

Foreign diplomatic circles were taken by surprise. Many of them had believed that some last minute development would save Mr Bhuttos life. The British Prime Ministers third appeal for mercy which was relayed by the BBC in its Urdu broadcast in the morning and the official spokesmans statement last evening that the mercy petitions were

still under consideration did not make them feel that the hanging had already been scheduled for this morning.

 

However, several local newsmen got the clue later in the night, three of them who got too near the jail to see the atmosphere were caught by the guards and detained for the night.

 

Later in the day about 40 persons gathered in the house of Dr Niazi, family friend of Bhutto, and offered Namaa-i-Janaza. They included Abdul Hafeez Pirzada and Mumtaz Bhutto.

 

Larkana Burial

 

Our Correspondent adds from Sukkur The dead body of Mr Bhutto was brought to Jacobabad airport in an official plane. Mr Mumtaz Bhuttos father, Nabi Bukhsh Bhutto and the first wife of Mr Bhutto came with the body. The body was given a bath and wrapped in a coffin at Rawalpindi.

 

From Jacobabad the body was taken to Garhi Khuda Bakhsh by a helicopter. The body was taken to a corner where arrangements had been made for showing the face to the male and female members of the family separately.

 

Afterwards Namaz-i-Janaza was offered. It was led by Maulvi Mahinud in the old mosque at Janazgabr. Mr Nabi Bakhsh Bhutto, Sardar Peer Bakhsh Bhutto, Mr Ali Gauhar Bhutto and Muzaffar Bhutto were prominent members of the Bhutto family who attended the Janaza prayer.

 

In the family graveyard where Mr Z A. Bhutto has been buried, are also buried his father, Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto, his two stepbrothers Sikandar Bhutto and Imadad Ali Bhutto and his mother.

 

The situation in Larkana is quiet and peaceful. Agency reports add As, a mark of respect all the shops in the village remained closed but life was normal in the rest of the Larkana district.

 

There was no reaction over the execution of Mr Bhutto throughout the district. The situation was reported to be normal. After the burial a number of people came to Nau Dero to sympathise with the family of Mr Bhutto.

 

At the time of burial strict precautionary measures were taken in and around Garhi Khuda Bakhsh by the administration. A Press note issued by the Interior Ministry said the mercy petitions filed on behalf of Mr Bhutto were rejected by the President of Pakistan 'after they had been processed in accordance with the normal procedure'.

 

Mr Bhutto, last arrested on Sept 17, 1977, remained confined in Rawalpindi Jails death cell since April 1978 when the Supreme Court started hearing of the appeals filed by him and from former officials of the disbanded Federal Security Force who were also sentenced to death in the case by the Lahore High Court.

 

After a seven-month-long hearing, the Supreme Court rejected the appeals on Feb 6 last. Mr Bhutto filed a review petition which was also dismissed by the Supreme Court on March 24 last.

 

The other four sentenced to death were Mian Mohammad Abbas, Mr Ghulam Mustafa, Mr Arshad Iqbal and Rana Iftikhar Ahmad. Former FSF Director-General Masood Mahmud and another FSF official Ghulam Hussain were also accused in the case but they were pardoned on becoming approvers.

 

Mr Bhutto was charged with conspiring with the FSF officials to assassinate former National Assembly member Ahmad Rasa Kasuri. But in the shooting on Mr Kasuris car in Lahore on the night of Nov 10, 1974, Mr Kasuri escaped unhurt while his father, Nawab Mohammad Ahmad Khan, was killed.

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