Govt to reopen ZA Bhutto ‘judicial murder’ case
By Zahid Gishkori
President to file reference in Supreme Court; PM fails to consult other political parties about his India visit.
ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet has given the go-ahead to the ministry of law and justice to file a reference in the Supreme Court (SC) to reopen former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s case which the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) believes culminated in his ‘judicial murder.’
President Asif Ali Zardari will take party leaders into confidence before filing a judicial reference in the ZA Bhutto case on April 4 in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh, according to Federal Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan who briefed the media after the cabinet meeting on Monday.
The PPP never accepted the impartiality of the 1979 death-by-hanging verdict handed down to its founding leader by the Lahore High Court during the dictatorial regime of Chief Martial Law Administrator Gen Ziaul Haq. Benazir Bhutto had vowed to reopen the case but could not do so during her two stints as prime minister.
The PPP now wants to evoke presidential powers granted under Article 186 of the constitution to ask the Supreme Court to consider the murder case for a review according to Federal Minister for Law and Justice Babar Awan. He was confident the SC would consider a request from the sitting president. But he was not equally sure of Lahore High Court officials who he hoped would not tamper with official records in connection with ZA Bhutto’s murder case.
The information minister also briefed the media on the ongoing talks between interior secretaries in New Delhi. Pakistan has evolved a strategy to initiate talks on all contentious issues with India to pave the way for bilateral talks, taking them up from where they had stalled after the 2008 Mumbai attacks. The Indian and Pakistani premiers had pledged to revert to dialogue during a brief interaction in Bhutan last year.
Replying to a question, she said the meeting between the two premiers is “a gesture of goodwill between two neighbours for breaking the two and a half year deadlock.” Due to the unexpected invitation extended by Premier Singh, Gilani could not take leaders of other political parties on board about the visit, she explained. The prime minister is due to leave for Mohali on Wednesday morning.
The president and the prime minister want to avail the opportunity in national interest provided by Indian Premier Manmohan Singh who has invited them to witness the World Cup semi-final between their cricket teams, Awan said. “It is time for the two democratic governments to resolve all outstanding issues,” she said.
The federal cabinet condemned the US drone attacks which are seen to be promoting terrorism. She also informed reporters that the cabinet condemned the desecration of the Holy Quran by an American pastor. “Muslim countries should come up with a joint strategy to create interreligious harmony, especially in light of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC)’s recommendation to prevent such crimes,” she said.
The cabinet approved agreements recently signed between Tajikistan and Pakistan on economic cooperation as well as MoUs signed with Sri Lanka on agricultural cooperation.
The prime minister gave the approval for dissolving five other ministries to the provinces, namely ministry of education, culture, special education, livestock and dairy development and tourism. However, some departments of these ministries will be attached with federal ministries. The cabinet had dissolved five ministries in light of the 18th amendment last month.
The prime minister also discussed the agenda for the implementation of a finance agreement in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and endorsed the decision of the Economic Coordination Committee for economic reforms.
A cabinet meeting is to be summoned to discuss economic reforms, especially the implementation of Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan, the minister said. However, she did not give a time frame for the meeting.
Source: The Express Tribune