Forty Years Ago: February 7, 1979
Bhutto To Hang
The Pakistan Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, upheld the conviction and sentence of death by hanging against the deposed Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The court then rejected an oral request by Bhut’o’s lawyer for a 30-day stay of execution to carry out a final legal review of the case. The highest court assured, however, that Bhutto will not be hanged during the standard one week allowed for clemency petitions and advised the defence to file a formal request for more time. Chief Justice Anwar ul Haq wrote the decision upholding the March 18, 1978 verdict of the Lahore High Court convicting Bhutto and four co-defendants of conspiracy and arranging a political murder, and sentencing all five to hang. Three judges concurred with his decison.
Turkey And Bhutto
In 1960, Z A Bhutto was sent by General Ayub Khan to Ankara to plead for the lives of Turkish civilian leaders who had been condemned to death following a military take-over. General Gersel, the then president, told Bhutto that “the problem will be solved by executions”. Bhutto replied: “The problems of Turkey will begin with these executions.” Little did Bhutto realise then that his words would one day be relevant to the situation in Pakistan. It is apparent that his execution will only aggravate the country’s difficulties. The problem before the military junta, which ousted Bhutto nearly two years ago, will be how to meet the situation if the execution is carried out. Not that Bhutto has become popular, it is the military regime which has become unpopular. In the absence of an opposition, Bhutto has filled the void.
Internal Affair: PM
Prime Minister Morarji Desai and the External Affairs Minister A B Vajpayee declined to comment on the Pakistan Supreme Court verdict on Mr Bhutto. “It is their internal affair and I do not want to interfere,” Desai said.