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Tuesday, July 23, 2024  
16 Muharram 1446  

Gen Zia’s survival depended on Bhutto being found guilty: SC

Issues detailed order on presidential reference related to former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s execution
Former president Zulfikar Ali Bhutto arrives in Stockholm on February 23, 1976. AFP/File
Former president Zulfikar Ali Bhutto arrives in Stockholm on February 23, 1976. AFP/File

Former dictator General Ziaul Haq’s personal survival depended on former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto being found guilty, the Supreme Court said in its detailed order on the presidential reference filed by former president Asif Ali Zardari more than a decade ago.

“The continuation of usurped power required Mr. Bhutto to be convicted,” said the 48-page apex court order issued on Monday.

In March, the Supreme Court admitted that Bhutto was not given the right to a fair trial, almost 44 years after the Pakistan Peoples Party’s founding chairman was hanged in a murder case. The short order said that the proceedings of the trial by the Lahore High Court and of the appeal by the Supreme Court did not meet the requirements of the fundamental right to a fair trial and due process.

The CJP pronounced the top court’s opinion on the long-pending presidential reference to answer whether it could revisit the 1979 judgement that sent Bhutto to the gallows.

The order, authored by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa, stated that the trial court, which had tried and convicted Bhutto, and the appellate court, which had dismissed his appeal, were operating when there was no constitutional rule in the country and one man’s will became legislation and his person had replaced the entire democratic order.

“Was it not obvious that General Zia-ul-Haq would be the direct beneficiary of a guilty verdict. If Mr. Bhutto was acquitted he may have proceeded to prosecute General Zia-ul-Haq for the crime of high treason.”

It added that the trial and appellate courts, which conducted the trial and heard the appeal, were not true courts under the Constitution.

“The country was captive to Martial Law and so too were its courts. When judges take oath of allegiance to dictators, the courts are no longer of the people.”

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Supreme Court

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto