Pak Prez okays review of Zulfikar`s death sentence

Last Updated: Friday, April 1, 2011 - 17:59

Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday
gave his assent to a proposal to ask the Supreme Court to
review the death sentence awarded to ex-premier Zulfikar Ali
Bhutto in 1979, which the ruling PPP contends led to the
"judicial murder" of the leader.

Zardari signed the proposal in the presence of Law
Minister Babar Awan and Sindh Home Minister Zulfikar Mirza,
under Article 186 of the Constitution.

Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said the
proposal will now be sent to the Supreme Court by the Law
Ministry.

Earlier this week, the federal Cabinet authorised the
President to send a proposal on this subject to the Supreme
Court.

Article 186 of Pakistan`s Constitution states that the
President can obtain the opinion of the apex court on any
question of law he considers of public importance.

The Supreme Court will consider the matter and report
its opinion to the President.

The move by Zardari -- who took over as PPP chief
after his wife, former premier Benazir Bhutto, was
assassinated in 2007 -- came three days ahead of the death
anniversary of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

The PPP had "never intended to seek revenge but it
wanted to put right a historic wrong and thereby vindicate the
position" of Bhutto, the founding Chairman of the party, Babar
said.

He recalled that a former judge who was part of the
bench of the Supreme Court which upheld Bhutto`s death
sentence had publicly acknowledged that the split verdict was
given under pressure from the dictatorship of the time.

The death sentence was awarded to Bhutto, Pakistan`s
first directly elected Prime Minister, by the Lahore High
Court and subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court in March
1979 through a split verdict.

Bhutto was executed on April 4, 1979 by the then
military dictatorship, which disregarded appeals by world
leaders and serious reservations expressed by international
jurists about the legal propriety of the death sentence.

The body of the Premier was secretly flown in the dead
of the night to Larkana in southern Sindh and buried without
permitting his family to attend the funeral and last rites.

The then military regime led by Zia-ul-Haq published
pictures in newspapers of the funeral prayer to show that
local residents had attended the burial.

On investigation, however, it was found that the few
people shown in the picture were not local residents and had
apparently been brought from outside, Babar said.

PTI




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