Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s Last Moments Before His Execution on 4 April

On 4 April 1979, 38 years ago to the day, former Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged by the General Zia-ul-Haq regime for murder.

In his book Bhutto Kay Aakhri 323 Din (The Last 323 Days of Bhutto), Lt Col Rafiuddin, who was deputed inside the jail for over 10 months to keep an eye on him, details the deposed PM's last moments.

Rafiuddin has chillingly described Bhutto’s reaction when his execution order was read out to him, hours before the hanging. Pakistani daily Dawn quotes from the lieutenant colonel’s account:

I did not see any sign of panic on Mr Bhutto’s face while the jail superintendent was reading out the order. Instead, I could see that he was quite calm, relaxed, and had a smile on his face.

According to Rafiuddin, Bhutto had trouble sleeping that night and couldn't draw up a will owing to his disturbed state of mind. He even burnt the piece paper on which he had earlier penned down a will. When the jail superintendent later came to his cell, he found him lying motionless on a mattress.

Dawn cites the book to recount the final couple of minutes leading up to the former PM’s execution.

All present there stood in silence... When the clock struck four minutes past two in the morning, the executioner whispered something into Bhutto’s ear and pressed the lever. Bhutto’s body fell about five feet; it remained in that position for half an hour. A doctor then checked Bhutto and pronounced him dead.

With this, Bhutto’s exceptional and dramatic life came to an abrupt end. He was hanged for the alleged murder of Nawab Mohammad Ahmad Khan, belying expectations that his stature would help him escape the noose.

His hanging also cut short his impressive and stormy political career. As PM, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had a successful and turbulent stay in office, during which he laid the foundation of Pakistan's nuclear programme.

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