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The Supreme Court adjourned on Tuesday hearing a presidential reference seeking to revisit the 1979 controversial death sentence given to former prime minister and PPP leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto till January 2024.

A nine-member larger bench headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa took up the reference. The case proceedings were broadcast live.

The bench consisted of Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Amin-ud-Din Khan, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Musarrat Hilali.

Ahead of the hearing, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and former president Asif Ali Zardari arrived before the court.

During the hearing, the judge directed Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan to read out loud the presidential reference.

Zardari had filed the reference on the advice of the federal cabinet, Awan told the bench, adding that the reference had not been withdrawn by any president to date.

“I must regret on behalf of the SC that it was not listed earlier because we have a policy now of first in first out unless there is some urgency in a particular case,” Justice Isa remarked.

Meanwhile, speaking to the media outside the court, PPP’s Sherry Rehman said, “Everyone knows today how important day is for PPP and after many years this day has come.”

Following the hearing today, Bilawal spoke to the media, saying that they were grateful to the judges for taking up the case. He demanded that the nation should be told that Bhutto was innocent.

“We surely want justice for Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, surely we want answers to the questions raised by the president in the reference, surely we want the stain on the judiciary to be removed.”


On Monday, Bilawal had moved the SC for live streaming of proceedings, saying that his grandfather Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was charged, convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, sentenced and executed on the testimony of an approver “in the greatest miscarriage of justice that was ever to befall this country”.

“It is in order to remove this stain and correct the wrong in history that the applicant has preferred the instant reference to bring on record the reality of the life of his grandfather, hence, the applicant wants that the hearing of this case, should be live/on Air, so that the whole Pakistan can hear it and this would be transparent for everyone,” the application said.

The PPP government on April 2, 2011, had filed a reference in the apex court to reopen the case of former prime minister and founder of the party Zulfikar Bhutto, who was hanged on April 4, 1979, in Rawalpindi.

Zardari forwarded the reference to the SC under clause 1 and 2 of Article 186 of the Constitution for revisiting the case.

Babar Awan had argued the reference on behalf of the PPP government.

Then in 2018, Bilawal had filed an application to implead party in the presidential reference, but it was not fixed in the last five years.


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Anila Qadri Dec 12, 2023 04:25pm
What is the point of all this? Is it just to provide narrative to PpP because Bhutto cannot return. Now so many issues pending in supreme court and they are doing drama around a dead leader. What about leaders who are currently in jail's for no reason
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Parvez Dec 12, 2023 10:28pm
This situation is reminiscent of the much quoted saying......Nero decided to play the harp while Rome burnt.
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