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The F.E. Choudhry Gallery: Jiss dhaj say koee maqtal meiN gaya

Posted on June 25, 2008
Filed Under >Adil Najam, >Nadeem Omar, History, People, Photo of the Day
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Nadeem Omar and Adil Najam

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto going to Court for his Murder trial



Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in Court for his murder trial by Zia ul HaqA large number of the photographs in the F.E. Chaudhry Collection are of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto during the time of the Bhutto Primiership. None are more riveting for those interested in Pakistan’s history than the one of Mr. Bhutto’s trial in the Lahore High Court during 1978.

In the last installment from the F.E. Choudhry Gallery we brought you scenes of public agitation from outside the Lahore High Court where Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s trial was proceeding. Today we bring you some amazing photographs from inside the Lahore High Court.

These pictures are amazing indeed. If you did not know of the context you would never guess that the smartly dressed, confident, self-assured man in all of them is the “accused” being led by his captives to court. It truly reminds one of Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s immortal verse:

jiss dhajj say koee maqtal meiN gaya
woh shaan salamat rehti hai,
Yeh jaan tou aani jaani hai
iss jaan ki koee baat nahiN

If one did not know of the context one could easily assume that this is a confident Prime Minister, walking with his head held high, accompanied by his security detail. Instead, what it actually is a deposed Prime Minister being taken to court for a mock trial by the dictator who disposed him and surrounded by his captors and guards. He walks elegantly and confidently in and out of the court while police escorts follows keeping a respectful distance as if led by Mr. Bhutto into a state function.


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These four photographs attest to Mr. Bhutto’s sense of dress and decorum, but even more to his sense of history. Each one rivals the others in terms of Bhutto’s formal attire. Of course, Mr. Bhutto knew the fate that awaited him and in some ways he dressed not just for that moment, but for that fate. His sense of defiance was reflected through his choice of clothes and his calm, confident and self-assured appearance.

All these photographs from chacha F.E. Chaudhry, but especially this next one, also demonstrate what leadership really is. It comes not just from the office but from the person. It is the police that is supposed to be “leading” Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to court, and he who is supposed to be “following” them. Instead, it is very clear for all to see who is “leading” whom. Those with the guns and batons are “following” the dictates of a dictator. Those whose spirit they are meant to break, a man of many faults no doubts, walks with his head held high because he “leads” with his conscience.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto going to Court for his Murder trialZulfiqar Ali Bhutto going to Court for his Murder trial

Click here for the evolving F.E. Choudhry Gallery at ATP.

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