Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, is under sentence of death for complicity in a political murder.
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, is under sentence of death for complicity in a political murder. The Pakistan Supreme Court is due to begin hearing his appeal on 20 May. Mr. Bhutto still commands a popular following in Pakistan, and if his appeal were to fail, the government would face a difficult political problem in deciding whether the death sentence should be carried out.
SYNOPSIS: For more than five years, Mr. Bhutto ruled Pakistan. He was chosen as President after the 1971 war with India introduced a new civilian constitution and in 1973 stopped down from the Presidency to become Pakistan's first Prime Minister for 15 years.
In March last year, he called a general election, won it, an was sworn in for a new term by President Chaudhry. Now President Chaudhry could have the final word, if the appeal fails, on whether Mr. Bhutto is hanged.
It was that election victory that led to his downfall. Two months of rioting in Pakistan's main cities followed opposition charges that the vote had been rigged. Mr. Bhutto finally agreed to nw elections; but he was still arguing about he conditions when the army intervened.
Mr. Bhutto was brought before the High Court in Lahore when he was found guilty of murder in Marc and sentenced to be hanged, the government knew that, given mr. Bhutto's personal popularity, the sentence could be political dynamite. demonstrations were banned Dozen of supporters of Mr. ??? ??? ??? ??? Party were arrested. A newspaper that prints a statement by him has been closed down.
Since last July, General Mohammed Zia-ul Haq, the Army Chief of Staff has been heading a military government. When he took over, he said that elections would be held in October, under army supervision. But two weeks before polling day, he postponed them indefinitely, insisting that the charges against Mr. Bhutto and other politicians must be dealt with first. In the meantime, he has proposed that a national government including civilians, should be formed.
Last December, General Zia paid a visit in China, and was received by Chairman Hua. He has also visited Saudi Arabia, and the Shah of Iran has been to Islamabad. Pakistan has friendly relations with all three countries. Diplomat have said that they have all made representations that Mr. Bhutto should to be hanged.
General Zia's regime is not noted for clemency. It introduced stringent now punishments for breaches of Islamic law. A prisoner found guilty of the attempted rape of a child was sentenced to a public fl???gging. General Zia recently told a British reporter why his government felt