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ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly here Wednesday passed a resolution, demanding to overturn the death sentence given to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto – former prime minister and the founding chairman of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

The resolution comes days after the top court of the country admitted – almost 44 years after he was hanged in a murder case – that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was not given the right to a fair trial.

All three provincial assemblies, except the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa where the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is in power, and the Senate have passed resolutions declaring Bhutto a ‘national hero and martyr’.

The resolution, moved by Shazia Marri of PPP, was adopted by the National Assembly, recognised the trial and subsequent conviction of Bhutto as a gross miscarriage of justice.

“Salutes the struggles of Nusrat Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto, and the PPP workers who sacrificed their lives to establish this truth,” said the resolution.

The house also lauded the determination of President Asif Ali Zardari who filed the presidential reference to reopen the case 12 years ago and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who “single-mindedly pursued it”.

The resolution lauded the Supreme Court of Pakistan 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.

It demanded that in light of this historic judgment by the apex court, the unjust verdict given in the Bhutto case must be overturned.

It also demanded the federal government to officially declare Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as a “martyr” and “National Democratic Hero” and establish “Nishan-e-Zulfikar Ali Bhutto” award for workers and activists who have fought and sacrificed their lives for true democracy in Pakistan.

However, the national assembly demanded to immediately withdraw ‘controversial’ Irsa Act – brought in by the previous caretaker setup through an ordinance.

The ruling coalition came under severe criticism for appointing chairman Indus River System Authority (Irsa) without correcting the “illegal and unconstitutional” restructuring of Irsa. Speaking on a point of order, Naveed Qamar of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) said that the Irsa Act, must be withdrawn which was done by previous caretaker setup despite the fact it had no such mandate.

“On the very first day, if we start encroaching upon the rights of the provinces then how do we function as a federation? It was the first illegal act of the present government to appoint the chairman hurriedly without bringing the law to the floor of the house,” he lamented.

Qamar said that part 2 of the federal legislative is governed by the Council of Common Interests (CCI) so that the viewpoint of all the four provinces is taken into account before any policy is decided; however, during the interim government, an ordinance was promulgated which took away the powers given under Irsa Act which stipulated the chairman-ship would rotate among the provinces, adding all the powers were given to the prime minister which is tantamount to usurping the rights of the provinces.

“A major policy shift was not authority or prerogative of the interim government. The caretaker setup was only mandated to carry out the day-to-day affairs of the country. This departure without the CCI approval was a blatant violation,” he added.

He also lambasted the new government for “hurriedly” appointing the Irsa chairman without discussing placing the ordinance on the floor of the house.

However, at the onset of the session, Omar Ayub Khan of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-backed Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) member demanded the removal of Inspector General Islamabad Police Dr Akber Nasir Khan after an official of Islamabad police barred PTI lawmakers from entering the premises of the parliament house.

According to Khan, an inspector of ICT Police named Mushtaq ordered the Rangers, Frontier Constabulary (FC), and police personnel deployed at the gate of the parliament house to baton charge the PTI lawmakers when they were coming to attend the session by foot to register their protest against banning the visitation of Adiala jail where Imran Khan is incarcerated.

“How dare an inspector even think of barring the lawmakers from entering the parliament house? Who has given the orders to him? This is an insult to the parliament and its elected representatives. I want immediate removal of the IG police,” he added.

He also requested the chair to notify his appointment as the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly as the party has proposed his name after the party founding chairman recommended his name for the slot.

He also strongly condemned the attitude of the Adiala jail superintendent, Asad Warraich, for barring the PTI lawmakers from meeting Imran Khan under the pretext of security threats.

He regretted that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is being used as a “Gestapo tool” against political opponents which he said is evident from the notice issued to PTI MNA Shandana Gulzar for speaking against Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Safdar.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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