Thirty years ago today, Pakistan’s elected Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was executed on trumped-up charges by military dictator General Zia ul Haq.
"Shaheed Bhutto awakened the people to the realisation that only they, and no one else, were the fountainhead of all political power," Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said in a report by the Pakistani Daily Times.
“Shaheed” refers to death by martyrdom. Bhutto, founder of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was hanged at Rawalpindi’s Central Jail on Apr. 4, 1979. He is buried in the village of Garhi Khuda Baksh in his native Sindh Province.
Speaking of his late wife, Benazir Bhutto, President Zardari added: “Following in the footsteps of her father, Benazir Bhutto also laid down her life for democracy. Perhaps nowhere in the world has two successive generations of political leadership laid down their lives for the cause of the people. This honour belongs to the Pakistan People's Party and the Bhutto family.”
Pointing to one of ZA Bhutto’s major achievements, Zardari referred to the Simla Accords between Pakistan and its perceived deadly enemy, India: “(It) brought the longest spell of peace between India and Pakistan.”
Other leading figures in Pakistan paid tribute to the former President and Prime Minister. Current Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani said: “A new and popular turn came in the political history of Pakistan when Bhutto founded the PPP and made the Pakistani people aware of a new direction of progressive politics.”
Similarly to ZA Bhutto, the current PPP government is under severe criticism from the West. During the Cold War era, ZA Bhutto was criticized by the United States for his Third World activism, opening up to Communist China and most of all for his initiation of a nuclear program for Pakistan.
According to the PPP’s official website, he was warned in 1976 by US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger that if he went ahead with the plans, "the Prime Minister would have to pay a heavy price."