Born to Be Hanged: Political Biography of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto


Author: Syeda Hameed

9788129149671 | HB | pp. 270 | 2017 | Rupa Publications

Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto held the reins of the country from 1971 to 1977. He was overthrown in 1977 by his Chief of Army Staff, General Zia-ul-Haq, and executed in 1979. Zia-ul-Haq ruled over Pakistan for eleven years with an iron fist, curbing all dissent until he got blown up in an air crash in 1988. In almost three decades since, Pakistan’s leadership has changed hands fifteen times. An extremely controversial and confrontational politics is associated with the era of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. It is therefore not surprising that, considering his towering stature, not enough has been researched and written about the tumultuous years of his accession to power culminating in what today is best described as regicide. Syeda Hameed delves deep into the politics of Pakistan, meeting Bhutto’s contemporaries, mining information from archives and letters to bring to the fore a rich yet disturbing life and times of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

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The place reeked of old dampness. A single bulb showed the rope that hung still in the dead night. The hangman stood at the side of the platform; his eyes on the two men walking carefully on either side of the prisoner, carefully, not touching him. The prisoner’s cap covered only his forehead throwing in relief the nose and chin. He wore canvas shoes which made no sound. The two men turned back and left him alone on the platform with Tara Masih, the hangman. Both men stood face to face. A few shadows shuffled awkwardly near the walls. Silence. There was no sound except the rustle of the rope being twisted by the calloused hands of the hangman. He held the noose near the prisoner’s neck who made no effort to veer away. More rustling. One second, two, three… time ticked on. Suddenly, a voice at once familiar and unfamiliar tore through the dark silence, ‘O scum, hurry’. The next moment the earth moved with a shrudder and shattered under the ground. The wooden plank opened its trap and the newly twisted rope wrenched out the last breath of the man who once walked tall in the politics of Pakistan.


Syeda Hameed







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Rupa Publications





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About the Author

Syeda Saiyidain Hameed (born 1943) is an Indian social and women’s rights activist, educationist, writer and a former member of the Planning Commission of India. She chaired the Steering Committee of the Commission on Health which reviewed the National Health Policy of 2002, till the dissolution of the body in 2015, to be replaced by NITI Aayog. She was the founder trustee of the Women’s Initiative for Peace in South Asia (WIPSA) and the Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation and a former member of the National Commission for Women (1997–2000). She served the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) as its chancellor, prior to the accession of Zafar Sareshwala, the incumbent chancellor of the university on 2 January 2015. The Government of India awarded her the fourth highest civilian honour of the Padma Shri, in 2007, for her contributions to Indian society.


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