Bhutto (1928-1979), Zulfikar Ali

24 June, 2008
Baixas Lionel

Starting his political career as a protégé of General Ayub Khan, whose cabinet he joined in 1958, he then left his government after the Indo-Pakistan Agreement ending the 1965 war, and created the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in 1967. His party won the 1970 national elections in West Pakistan, but Sheikh Mujibur Rehman’s Awami League secured an overall majority. Although Bhutto did not have any direct responsibility in the atrocities that accompanied the break-up of Pakistan and the creation of Bangladesh, his encouragement to General Yahya Khan to reject Rehman’s demands for participation in the government and provincial autonomy for East Pakistan and to intervene military contributed to aggravate the situation. After the loss of East Pakistan, Bhutto became first Civilian Martial Law Administrator and, after the release of the 1973 Constitution, Prime Minister of Pakistan. Soon after, his unconstitutional dismissal of the Baluchistan provincial government led to the 1973-1977 civil war during which he sent the army to crackdown the insurgency. He was the one who finally granted the religious parties their demand to declare the Ahmadis a non-Muslim minority in 1974. His party again won the March 1977 national elections but several prominent opposition parties, gathered in the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) and irritated by his autocratic style of governance, subverted the outcome through mass agitation, accusing him of having rigged the elections. As Bhutto called upon the army to restore law and order, the Chief of Army Staff, General Zia-ul-Haq, launched a coup and deposed Bhutto. Bhutto was tried on a charge of conspiracy to murder a political rival. The Supreme Court held him guilty by a controversially divided verdict (four to three) against him. Bhutto was executed by hanging on April 4, 1979 at Rawalpindi Central Jail.

Cite this item

Baixas Lionel, Bhutto (1928-1979), Zulfikar Ali, Mass Violence & Résistance, [online], published on: 24 June, 2008, accessed 17/05/2021,, ISSN 1961-9898
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