ISLAMABAD: PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Friday presided over a meeting to review the presidential reference seeking to revisit the 1979 controversial death sentence awarded to the party’s founding father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

The meeting was attended by central and provincial leaders and legal experts part of the Peoples Lawyers Forum (PLF), PPP’s legal wing.

A statement by the party’s media wing stated that PLF officials briefed Mr Bhutto-Zardari on the presidential reference.

Zardari says PPP ready to serve people ‘with new zeal and sense of duty’

Farooq H. Naik and Shahadat Awan participated in the meeting through a video link. Syed Nayyar Hussain Bokhari, Faisal Karim Kundi, Raza Rabbani and Amna Paracha, Qazi Bashir, Bahram Khan Tareen, Raheel Kamran Cheema, Sajid Tanoli, Gohar Rehman Khattak, Ghiyasul Haque and Asrar Abbasi were present in the meeting.

The presidential reference, pending for the past 12 years, has finally been fixed for hearing on Tuesday before a nine-member larger bench of the Supreme Court.

The reference was filed by former president Asif Ali Zardari on April 2, 2011, seeking the court’s opinion — under its advisory jurisdiction — on revisiting the conviction.

The ex-president has moved the court under Article 186 (1) and (2) of the Constitution, which empowers the president to refer any question of public importance to the Supreme Court for its opinion.

Headed by then chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, an 11-judge bench held the reference’s last hearing in Jan 2012.

In March 1978, a four-member bench of Lahore High Court awarded the death sentence to the former prime minister, which was later challenged in the Supreme Court.

In a four to three split verdict, a seven-judge Supreme Court bench upheld the sentence during the military regime of the then army chief Gen Ziaul Haq in March 1979.

Meeting with civil society members Separately, a delegation of civil society representatives met the PPP chairman at Zardari House and discussed domestic and foreign affairs.

The meeting discussed challenges faced by the citizens and deliberated upon their solutions.

The civil society members gave suggestions and opinions regarding the country’s problems as Mr Bhutto Zardari appreciated their services in their respective fields.

‘Countless sacrifices’ Separately, PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari has said that in modern history, no party has made more sacrifices than the PPP.

In a statement on Friday, the former president said his party has always strived to solve the common man’s problems.

Since PPP’s inception, the motto ‘Roti, Kapra Aur Makaan’ of its founding leader, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, has been integral to the party’s core values and ethics.

The party made countless sacrifices to materialise this motto.

PPP has continuously moved forward and learned from its experiences, Mr Zardari said, adding his party was “ready to serve the people of Pakistan with a renewed zeal and sense of duty”.

He added that some important areas have been highlighted for economic recovery in the coming years.

The complete digitalisation of important departments such as food, education and health was essential to ensure transparency and effective governance.

This is because these departments provide essential services for the common person’s welfare, he added.

Mr Zardari also called for strengthening and implementing anti-harassment laws so that the women in our society are given the opportunity to work without any fear or prejudice.

PPP has always been the flagbearer of women’s rights and Benazir Bhutto was the first woman prime minister of the Islamic world.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2023

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