Presidential reference on ZAB case – Supreme Court and PPP on the same side … for once


ISLAMABAD – Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) lawyers and ministers were pleasantly surprised on Wednesday when the Supreme Court (SC) admitted a presidential reference to reopen the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto case, a petition most legal experts had said would be dismissed as “not maintainable”. The level of respect that Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s showed for Bhutto came as a complete surprise. “I am getting emotional today,” said the chief justice, referring to the reopening of the late PPP founder’s case.
As soon as the hearing was adjourned, Awan, accompanied by other PPP leaders, came out of the courtroom making victory signs with their hands. Clad in the traditional lawyer’s attire – black suit and tie – Awan said he told the court that he had resigned as law minister to represent the government in the case as its counsel.
“Though the apex court had allowed some past ministers to appear in court on behalf of the federation, I told the court that I have decided to uphold the norms and assist the court as a senior lawyer of the apex court in getting history cleared of the injustice done to Bhutto 32 years ago.
I have approached the Pakistan Bar Council to get my license restored by sacrificing my ministerial position,” said Awan. Awan thanked God for being chosen for such a “prestigious job” and said he was indebted to the president and prime minister for selecting him to “wipe off the bloodstains from the judicial system”. “I have told the Supreme Court that Bhutto himself, and not Babar Awan, will speak in this case … Bhutto, throughout the legal battle, looked towards the judiciary, seeking justice,” he said.
He said his party did not believe in revenge but just wanted to do away with injustice so that nobody was given a prejudiced treatment in future. Awan said the rest of the leaders of the PPP, including chief ministers, would also come to future hearings of the case. Awan refused to comment on assertions that he had “distributed sweets at Bhutto’s hanging” and now he was only trying to make up for a mistake done in the past.
Awan said the presidential reference would uphold the supremacy of the constitution and strengthen the federation. He said for his party, all dictators were the same and his party had removed all tyrants. He said the PPP would also strive to remove any autocrats in future as well. PPP National Assembly Member (MNA) Nadeem Afzal Gondal told Pakistan Today that his party was trying to right the historic wrong of ZA Bhutto’s hanging by reopening the case.
He said the presidency had taken a step in the right direction by sending the reference and now the people of Pakistan were looking towards the judiciary to do its part in setting the record straight. PPP MNA from Karachi Abdul Qadir Patel told Pakistan Today that the reference reflected the will and aspirations of the people of Pakistan and they hoped that the superior judiciary would repair the damage done to its image by Bhutto’s hanging. He said party leaders and workers would be present at the apex court for the hearing of the case.