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Thursday, 5 April 1979

Mr HAYDEN (Oxley) (Leader of the Opposition) - Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was a brilliant lawyer and politician, a former Prime Minister of Pakistan, latterly treated as a felon, and most recently executed in what many have described as judicial murder. That is something on which I cannot deliberate and I believe that no other honourable member in this House can do so properly. We are too far removed from the scene and events, and we know too little about them. All one can observe is that there were some remarkable shifts by the judiciary and that some say that promotions which occurred subsequently were not unconnected with services rendered. Dead, Mr Bhutto is a more potent political force than he was alive. There is undoubted evidence that his charismatic appeal which too was undoubted, had been contracting in recent times. His execution, however, catapaults him to the head of domestic martyrs in the pantheistic order of local political heroes in his country.

Bhutto's death, the manner of his imprisonment, trial, conviction and execution leave fair cause for disquiet. They are matters of the most serious concern not only for Pakistan but for the international community. Bhutto was a flawed national hero. He was arrogant, authoritarian and on all accounts a hopeless economic administrator. He could brutally brush aside those who stood in his way. After all, these are human flaws not unknown in politics in varying degrees even perhaps in this country in some ways in some places at some times, but they cannot be presented in exculpation for Bhutto's ultimate fate. Neither can the presented evidence of his being an accomplice to an alleged murder- an unusual, and indeed I am told unique, judgment in Pakistan for a person not physically involved in a murder- be accepted as sufficient justification for the ultimate judgment passed upon Bhutto.

It is a matter of melancholy regret that appeals for clemency which came from throughout the international order were rejected by the Pakistan Government. The Opposition joins with the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in expressing condolences to the surviving members of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto 's family.

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