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“Two Men and One Grave” — The Execution of Pakistan’s Bhutto, April 4, 1979


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“Two Men and One Grave” — The Execution of Pakistan’s Bhutto, April 4, 1979


Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, founder of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), served as president of Pakistan in the 1970s. By 1977, opposition against Bhutto and the PPP had grown due to incidents of repression, corruption, and alleged election fraud. Violence escalated across Pakistan, and Bhutto was overthrown by his army chief, General Zia-ul-Haq. Bhutto was put on trial for authorizing the murder of a political opponent, and executed on April 4, 1979. However, his party remains Pakistan’s largest national political party, and his daughter, Benazir Bhutto, served as Prime Minister before her assassination in a 2007 bombing. Benazir’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari, is currently serving as president.


Peter Constable was the Deputy Chief of Mission in Islamabad from 1976 to 1979. In these excerpts from his oral history, Constable discusses the events leading up to the coup that deposed Bhutto, as well as the United States’ involvement. He was interviewed by Charles Stuart Kennedy on January 17, 1990.


Pressures within the military were growing to do something


n the spring of 1977, Bhutto fairly quickly found that trying to shove his difficulties off on the United States, in an effort to create some sort of groundswell of support based on nationalism and anti-Americanism, really wasn’t taking him anywhere. The opposition was not cowed by this effort. In fact, there was no great anti-American rallying in the country.


So Bhutto began to back off from this and look for ways to reach some kind of an accommodation with us. But his difficulties in the streets continued and even got worse. The Saudis became very active Scissors-32x32.png


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