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KARACHI: The Pakistan Peoples Party has decided to file three appeals against the recent court decision in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case. The appeals will be filed by Latif Khosa on behalf of PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari.

The party has also decided that in the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto reference, the executed former prime minister’s grandson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, to be represented by Senator Farooq Naek, would seek to become a party.

These decisions were made at a party meeting held at Bilawal House and presided over by PPP’s chairman Mr Bhutto-Zardari and co-chairman Zardari.

During the meeting, the PPP’s legal team briefed the party high command on different legal aspects of the Benazir murder case verdict.

Prominent among those who attended the meeting were Faryal Talpur, Syed Khursheed Shah, Yusuf Raza Gilani, Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Nayyar Bukhari, Latif Khosa, Senator Naek, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Aitzaz Ahsan, Farhatullah Babar and Sherry Rehman.

Speaking at a press conference after the meeting, Mr Khosa said the PPP leadership had certain reservations on the judgement in the Benazir murder case and, therefore, it had decided to file three appeals against the decision.

Mr Khosa said that one of the appeals would be filed against the acquittal of the accused by Rawalpindi’s antiterrorism court, the second against former military ruler president Pervez Musharraf and the third appeal would challenge the conviction of the two senior police officials.

About the appeal to be filed against retired Gen Musharraf, Mr Khosa said, he was an absconder in the Benazir murder case and the court was not bound to wait for an absconder (to reach a decision). The court could arrange a lawyer for Gen Musharraf on government expense although Barrister Farogh Naseem was his attorney.

Mr Khosa said: “We have grievances against former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan for allowing Pervez Musharraf to escape from the country.

“Nawaz Sharif and Chaudhry Nisar tried to put the blame for his escape on the Supreme Court which was totally wrong because the powers of placing somebody’s name on Exit Control List lie with the federal government.”

In reply to a question, he said that as the Benazir murder case trial had been completed, “we demand that in this case Pervez Musharraf should also be convicted”.

He said that security not was provided to Benazir Bhutto’s public meeting in Rawalpindi and for this Gen Musharraf — and not Saud Aziz — was responsible.

The order to wash the site of the crime was also given by higher authorities, said Mr Khosa.

Soon after the former prime minister’s assassination, he said, the interior ministry held Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsood responsible for the attack, on the instructions given by Gen Musharraf in a high-level meeting.

Mr Khosa said that the PPP would not let the blood of Ms Bhutto go to waste.

About the exonerated accused, he said Bilal and Ikramullah were would-be suicide bombers and they were facilitated by Shafqat Hussain and his colleague. The record of all these was available on the phone and the accused, after their arrest, had recorded their confessional statements before the court.

“We have also reservations over acquittal of three important accused and we would also file appeals against their acquittal.”

He said the conviction of police officials Saud Aziz and Khurram Shahzad was beyond comprehension and that was why they would also file an appeal against their conviction to meet the demand of justice.

Mr Khosa said all these clues led to “Pervez Musharraf’s neck”.

In reply to a question, Mr Khosa said that Z.A. Bhutto, who gave the country the Constitution and nuclear bomb, was implicated in a false case. This was conceded by two of the judges conducting his trial, which proved that Mr Bhutto’s execution was a ‘judicial murder’.

He said during the tenure of the last PPP government, Mr Zardari had filed the reference in the Supreme Court and now, being his heir, his son would seek to become intervener in the case.

In this case, Senator Naek would pursue the matter on behalf of Mr Bhutto-Zardari whileSenator Ahsan would represent Mr Zardari in the reference.

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2017