Fears are growing in Pakistan of yet another upheaval following the sentencing to death last month of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who'd been found guilty of ordering the murder of a political opponent four years ago.
MV Plaque on wall PULL OUT TO MV General Zia UL-Haq talking to BBC reporter Brian Barron
CU General Zia replying to questions
MV & SV man shackled to flogging frame. Excited crowd being controlled by stick-wielding soldiers look on as flogging takes place (5 shots)
CU General Zia listening to question
ZIA: "As a straightforward soldier that I was, and I am, the way the former Prime Minister played his cards, I only knew that one side of the story, and once I discovered, and of course, not only on the fifth of July, but right towards, as late as August, even September, I was saying, that, once we'd discovered a lot of it, then I had to say what I really felt."
REPORTER: "So while you were in charge of the Army, despite whatever security or intelligence reports were coming in, there was nothing to indicate in those years beforehand the depth of the conspiracy or the misdeeds?"
ZIA: "With due apology for the words I use, the former Prime Minister Mr. Bhutto was a fast operator."
REPORTER: "General Zia, as regards martial law, public punishments for terrible crimes, one can perhaps see some justification but surely there can't be proof of public support for the flogging of political demonstrators."
ZIA: "In our actions we are not looking for public support or trying to gain favouritism, or rather, trying to gain favour, because we are not the ones who are going to stand for election. I do all that is in the interest of the nation, and a bit of punitive action, with very kind and benign martial law that is there, you'll find that in all the previous martial laws things were strict. We started out with an open hand, just like the example I gave, am giving you. We started out with an open heart, an open hand, the hand of love and affection for the people of Pakistan. But then at times I find that the squeeze has to be applied, so now I,m trying to close the hand gradually, to apply the squeeze where at is necessary."
REPORTER: "But when you said the other day that perhaps one or two public hangings would warn off saboteurs, did you really mean that or was it just a threat?"
ZIA: "Oh no. We mean it. We have a case. And you will hear very soon, we are going to hang them, it's one to one. But when a saboteur plays with the lives of thousands, or when a hijacker plays with the lives of three hundred on board, in my own thinking he needs no sympathy."
General Zia, who is devout Moslem said he intended to purify Pakistan. Concerning future prosecutions, it was announced on Friday (7 April) that Pakistani police had arrested a former Agriculture Minister and 14 other people in connection with an alleged plot to blow up the Lahore High Court and other buildings. At present former Prime Minister Mr. Bhutto is being held in the condemned cell at Lahore Jail.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Fears are growing in Pakistan of yet another upheaval following the sentencing to death last month of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who'd been found guilty of ordering the murder of a political opponent four years ago. An appeal against the sentence is to be heard on May the sixth and Mr. Bhutto's lawyers have asked for more time to prepare their case. Mr. Bhutto's supporters have said that of he hangs, Pakistan's rivers will run red. Pakistan's Martial Law Administrator, General Zia Ul-Haq, has reaffirmed his hard line on matters of law and order with more public hangings and floggings where necessary. General Zia recently spoke to BBC reporter Brian Barron.
SYNOPSIS: General Zia was asked why he had praised Mr. Bhutto before he was deposed last year but now described him as a murderer.
This man had been sentenced by a military court to 12 lashes for attempting to rape a little girl.