‘We expect justice,’ says Bilawal ahead of hearing on reference against Zulfikar Bhutto’s death sentence


Ahead of the hearing on a presidential reference seeking to revisit the death sentence awarded to former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Sunday said the party expected “justice” to be served.

A nine-member larger bench of the Supreme Court will commence on Tuesday (Dec 12) a long-pending presidential reference seeking to revisit the 1979 controversial death sentence awarded to the PPP founder.

The reference was filed on behalf of former president Asif Ali Zardari on April 2, 2011, to seek an opinion on revisiting the death sentence awarded to the former premier under the Supreme Court’s advisory jurisdiction.

Addressing a workers’ convention in Kohat today, Bilawal noted that the reference had finally been fixed for hearing.

“We had this hope from Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa that he would avail the opportunity to wash the blood off from his institutions and his court that was […] involved and an enabler in this tragedy.

“He should correct the constitutional and legal mistakes which were made [by the apex court],” he said.

Bilawal said he did not expect the court to merely give a verdict in the case since “the whole of Pakistan knows that [Bhutto] was innocent”.

He said the court would also have to point out those involved as well as the abettors, from ex-military dictator Ziaul Haq to the judges, lawyers and politicians involved.

“We expect justice,” Bilawal said. He went on to say that justice also needed to be done with history by telling the nation about the “conspiracy” that resulted in Bhutto’s hanging.

Bilawal said if the court addressed the “serious historic event” then it would give hope to the people and raise the trust in the judiciary.

During his address, Bilawal also talked about the upcoming general elections and said political parties were contesting the polls only to solve their “personal problems”.

“I am fighting this election to solve your problems,” he added.

“If someone is fighting elections it is so that that he can get out of prison while the other is contesting elections to save himself from prison,” he said.

Bilawal also said the PPP was advised to not kick off its conventions from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to the security threats.

“I said PPP workers are not ones to fear or hide and they stand with the party and I will go to them in this difficult time,” he added.

PPP wants proceedings to be broadcast live
Meanwhile, PPP Information Secretary Faisal Kareem Kundi said the party was calling on the top court to live stream the proceedings so that the whole country as well as the world could Bhutto getting justice.

In a video message, Kundi said Bilawal had already filed an application in the apex court to make him a party in the case.

He said that the PPP would present its arguments on the matter on Tuesday so “the world can be told why Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s judicial murder took place.”

Bilawal meets lawyers, discusses Bhutto’s death sentence reference
On Friday, Bilawal had presided over a meeting to review the presidential reference seeking to revisit the death sentence awarded to Bhutto.

The meeting was attended by central and provincial leaders and legal experts part of the Peoples Lawyers Forum (PLF), PPP’s legal wing. A statement by the party’s media wing stated that PLF officials briefed Bilawal on the presidential reference.

Zardari has moved the SC under Article 186 (1) and (2) of the Constitution, which empowers the president to refer any question of public importance to the apex court for its opinion.

Headed by then chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, an 11-judge bench held the reference’s last hearing in Jan 2012.

In March 1978, a four-member bench of Lahore High Court had awarded the death sentence to Bhutto, which was later challenged in the Supreme Court.

In a four to three split verdict, a seven-judge SC had bench upheld the sentence during the military regime of the then-army chief Gen Ziaul Haq in March 1979.