Pakistan Parliament passes resolution demanding overturning of death sentence given to ex-PM Zulfiqar Ali

Image Source : REUTERS/FILE Pakistan ex-PM Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto

Islamabad: Pakistan’s parliament on Wednesday passed a resolution, demanding the overturning of the death sentence given to former prime minister and PPP founder Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who was executed by the military regime of Gen Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in 1979. The resolution was passed days after the Supreme Court on March 6 opined unanimously that the former premier did not receive a fair trial and due process in a much-anticipated review of the high-profile case.

On March 18, 1978, the Lahore High Court sentenced Bhutto to death for allegedly ordering the assassination of Ahmed Reza Kasuri, one of the founding members of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

The resolution, adopted by the National Assembly (NA) and moved by PPP’s Shazia Marri, recognised the trial and subsequent conviction of Bhutto as a “gross miscarriage of justice”, the Geo News reported.

It “salutes the struggles of Begum Nusrat Bhutto Sahiba, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, and the Pakistan Peoples Party workers who sacrificed their lives to establish this truth”.

The apex court’s opinion was based on a special case sent in 2011 by then president Asif Ali Zardari to the Supreme Court to revisit his father-in-law Bhutto’s conviction for abetment in the murder case and his eventual hanging on April 4, 1979. Incidentally, Zardari was elected as President for the second time on March 10.

The resolution lauded the Supreme Court for finally holding and accepting the “glaring injustice” meted out to Bhutto 44 years ago in its judgment. It mentioned that the proceedings of the trial by the Lahore High Court and of the appeal by the Supreme Court do not meet the requirements of the fundamental right to a fair trial and due process, the report said. The resolution demanded that in light of the apex court judgment, the unjust verdict given in the Bhutto case must be overturned.

Announcing the unanimous opinion last week, Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa had said, “The proceedings of the trial by the Lahore High Court and the appeal by the Supreme Court of Pakistan do not meet the requirements of the fundamental right to a fair trial and due process enshrined in Articles 4 and 9 of the Constitution and later guaranteed as a separate and fundamental right under Article 10A of the Constitution.”

The apex court voiced its opinion but also ruled that the verdict of Bhutto’s death sentence could not be changed as the Constitution and law did not allow so, and it would be maintained as a verdict.
The resolution also demanded that the federal government officially declare Bhutto as a “shaheed” and “National Democratic Hero”, and establish the “Nishan-e-Zulfikar Ali Bhutto” award for workers and activists who have fought and sacrificed their lives for true democracy in Pakistan.

All three provincial assemblies, except the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — where jailed former prime minister Imran Khan party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is in power — and the Senate have passed resolutions declaring Bhutto a national hero and martyr.

(With inputs from agency)

Also Read: Pakistan’s SC says former PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto ‘not given fair trial’ in 1979 death sentence