In a significant development in Pakistan's legal and political history, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has scheduled a hearing on the Presidential Reference regarding the case of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's execution. Bhutto, who was the 9th Prime Minister of Pakistan and the founder of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), was executed in 1979 on charges of conspiracy to murder. His trial and subsequent execution have been subjects of controversy and debate for decades, with many raising questions about the fairness of the trial and the political motivations behind his death sentence.
Renewed Examination of Bhutto's Execution
A nine-member Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa will hear the Presidential Reference on December 12. This legal instrument allows the President to seek the Supreme Court's opinion on a question of law considered to be of public importance. The move indicates a renewed effort to examine the legal and historical aspects of Bhutto's execution, potentially to posthumously clear his name or address concerns about the legal process leading to his death.
Controversial Death Sentence Under Review
The Supreme Court is expected to review the controversial death sentence awarded to Bhutto in 1979. The last time a hearing on this subject took place was in January 2012, when the court temporarily suspended the license of former law minister Advocate Babar Awan and requested the appointment of another counsel to represent then-President Zardari.
Revisiting A 'Judicial Murder'
The Supreme Court is set to hear a Presidential Reference seeking a declaration by the court that Bhutto's hanging was a 'judicial murder.' This reference was brought during the tenure of the PPP-led former government in 2011. Bhutto's execution has long been considered an ugly and unforgettable blot on Pakistan's judiciary, particularly as it occurred during the martial law imposed by General Ziaul Haq.