ZAB case: Bhutto was hanged in haste, says AG

Published: June 29, 2011
AG Anwarul Haq said the PPP founder was hanged in haste and that SC needs to re-examine his murder trial. PHOTO: PID.GOV.PK

AG Anwarul Haq said the PPP founder was hanged in haste and that SC needs to re-examine his murder trial. PHOTO: PID.GOV.PK


The Attorney General of Pakistan Maulvi Anwarul Haq said on Wednesday that the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged in haste and that the Supreme Court needs to re-examine his murder trial.

An eleven-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry is hearing the Bhutto reference case, where this request was made.

The attorney general said that Bhutto was hanged within 12 hours of the issuance of a black warrant against him. However, he said, the high court rules state that no sentence can be implemented within seven days of the issuance of a black warrant.

The chief justice observed that the case was not presented clearly in court and that the AG’s arguments were in the same line as that of PPP lawyer Babar Awan.

The court also told the AG to mention which laws had been violated in Bhutto’s murder trial.

The hearing has been adjourned till July and the date will be announced later after considering the availability of the bench.

Updated from print edition (below)

SC asks Awan to present proof of judges’ bias

The Supreme Court may refer the high-profile reference filed by President Zardari to revisit the death penalty awarded to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto for the murder of a political opponent to a trial court for review if the counsel succeeds in convincing the bench that the judges were biased.

Concluding his arguments, the president’s counsel Dr Babar Awan contended that he only wants to prove three points before the court. First, legal requirements were not fulfilled in Bhutto’s case, second, the judges were biased and finally, fundamental rights of citizens guaranteed in the Constitution were violated. The apex court awarded the wrong sentence to Bhutto which was a ratification of the high court’s decision. Presiding over an 11-member bench, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary asked Awan to present concrete arguments instead of just maligning the judges who had pronounced the verdict.

The court asked the counsel to point out instances of bias in the judgment. Awan said former chief justice Anwarul Haq gave benefit of doubt to the Lahore High Court, whereas in principle if there was an iota of doubt, it should have gone in favour of the convict. Maulvi Mushtaq had submitted an application to the police in which he had stated that Bhutto was to be held responsible in the event of his death, he added. Awan questioned how a judge who was a complainant against an under-trial prisoner could have been neutral. He said Justice Durab Patel, one of three dissenting judges, had said that there was no case against Bhutto.

The bench observed the case would be referred to a trial court for a review because the counsel has failed to present new evidence before the court. It is the trial court’s jurisdiction to review evidence. State approvers will also have to appear before the court. Awan said the government would like to restrict itself to the reference since the president has raised questions of law under Article 186 which authorises him to solicit the Supreme Court for its opinion on a case. He referred to cases in various countries where the judiciary, the parliament and the executive pardoned convicts after their execution. “The cases you are referring to were reopened on the basis of new evidence whereas that is not true in this instance,” remarked Justice Javed Iqbal. “It is not appropriate to seek ‘pardon’ for ZA Bhutto,” the chief justice observed. “Neither Bhutto nor his family had asked for pardon when he was on death row,” said Awan and clarified he was reading from the record.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (42)

  • SK
    Jun 28, 2011 - 1:48PM

    CJ should also ask Awan about his allegiance when Bhutto was killed and the fact that he distributed sweets. Has Awan asked for forgiveness from masses or it is just another stunt he wants to pull.Recommend

  • waqar akhtar
    Jun 28, 2011 - 2:28PM

    ZAB and BB fought against religious fanaticism but the current ppp has set on a policy of appeasement of the islamic fascists.the present govt. has surrendered before the religious fanatics and are doing all they can to convince the islamic terrorists to not blow them up.This policy of raising your hands up before the beard brigade won’t save the government as the religious extremists have smelled blood,they’ve seen how the present govt. bows down before religious terrorism and they will continue to exert pressure.

    the ppp has got to come out publicly in press conferences and on talk shows against islamic fascism and take it head on.opening old cases is of no use today,don’t hand over this country to the islamic terrorists.Recommend

  • Jun 28, 2011 - 2:47PM

    What is the point of wasting time on a case of past, while there are hundreds of pending cases in our courts waiting for decisions.
    I think CJ should instead, focus on providing fast and transparent judiciary to all citizens of Pakistan.Recommend

  • MAD
    Jun 28, 2011 - 2:54PM

    The CJ has only asked him to present true facts. everyone knows that ZAB was sentenced to death on charges which were for lack of better word “flimsy”. however the SC did give a decision and just mere statements and emotional arguments with no substance wont work. He should represent the evidence and point out discrepencies and there are several discrepencies. This appears to be just another time wasting exercise to decieve the public and take up some more time.Recommend

  • Public
    Jun 28, 2011 - 3:04PM

    Well done Mr CJRecommend

  • Saira
    Jun 28, 2011 - 3:19PM

    @SK Zabardast, bravoRecommend

  • Word Life
    Jun 28, 2011 - 3:20PM

    Babar Awan should get own loyalties straight …

    Was he wrong when he distributed sweets on ZAB’s death
    Was he wrong when he acted as Stage Secretary for Zia-ul-Haq’s son (Ejaz-ul-Haq)
    Was he wrong when he tried his best to get in good books of Nawaz Sharif?

    Who is this guy and who is he loyal to?Recommend

  • Imran
    Jun 28, 2011 - 3:52PM

    How can one deliver justice, if he is biased against someone? This is against the basic idea of justice. CJ’s comments make no sense, and show his own grudge.Recommend

  • Ba Ha
    Jun 28, 2011 - 5:37PM

    sensible man.. I like non-emotional judgesRecommend

  • Imran
    Jun 28, 2011 - 6:29PM

    To all those who are bringing the question of loyalties of Babar Awan!
    This is totally irrelevant, and you make no sense. An innocent man lost his life through conspiracies hatched by a military dictator, and his cronies, which was then executed by grudging and morally bankrupt judges. Even though he won’t get his life back, an acknowledgement of the miscarriage of justice is the least he deserves.
    If this were some non-Muslim Western country, no one would be asking these questions, but alas, we live in a Muslim country with an “independent judiciary”.Recommend

  • Imran
    Jun 28, 2011 - 6:32PM

    Our struggle was for independent judiciary; all we got is independent, but unjust, biased, and self-righteous judiciary. Now what? Recommend

  • Amer
    Jun 28, 2011 - 6:44PM

    Babar Awan could not stop saying: “Mard-e-momin Mard-e-Haq Zia-ul-Haq Zia-ul-Haq” at rallies. Says alot about the man doesn’t it! Recommend

  • Jun 28, 2011 - 7:21PM

    Mr. Zardari and his cronies have been tasked to destroy the essence and soul of the PPP. Late Bhutto or likes of him are rare in history. He will not recognize the party today which is made of shady individuals. This is a party with no vision. It is a party serving as a B team of the establishment. They have beaten the Chaudhrys at this art.

    ZAB will live for ever regardless of what Zia’s kangroo court did. Let us try that the names of these minions are not linked to the visionary leader. Recommend

  • khauf.
    Jun 28, 2011 - 7:59PM

    @waqar akhtar:
    what is your point here… who are islamic terrorist.. fighting american idealogy is fanaticism… there is no islamic fascism kind of thing… DO NOT use the Word ISLAM with fascism… People like you have done unjutice to the religion of islam by making such statements.Recommend

  • Salman
    Jun 28, 2011 - 8:16PM

    @SK: CJ has already stated a few days ago that it is one’s own choice to change his opinion, i.e: Awan can change his opinion now that distributing sweets when Bhutto was martyred was wrong.

    To apologize for one’s own mistakes though, is the domain of people with a modicum of shame and “ghairat,” therefore do not hold your breath for Awan to apologize.

    Forget about Awan, think about the man who has hired Awan to serve in important positions, what does it say about him????

    Or, was it BB who had already decided to put Awan in her good books?????? Awan was one of the three persons who were responsible for safety and security of BB during her last chapter of life. When you entrust your life and limb to people of such repute, you pay a very high price indeed.

    Regardless of BB’s judgement about people she was a very brave woman.Recommend

  • Salman
    Jun 28, 2011 - 8:32PM

    @Imran: You make a good point but consider the fact that even a little child in Pakistan considers Bhutto a martyr and looks upon his hanging as a shameful act of those who sat in judgement of him, and who were determined to execute him regardless of any evidence.

    When a court of law gives a judgement it also prescribes relief through providing equity, which there is none available now. Therefore to seek justice now is a moot act and merely a ruse to avoid working on important matters of life and death which the oppressed masses of Pakistan are facing in 2011.

    Bhutto does not need vindication by a court of law, the people have already given their judgement that he was wrongly executed and those who dispensed that unjust judgement will forever live in shame and infamy. Please respect the Court of People which is superior to any any other court.Recommend

  • freeha
    Jun 28, 2011 - 8:32PM

    Mr. Awan is on a mission of making an ass of himself. (if is not one already)Recommend

  • Waseem
    Jun 28, 2011 - 8:46PM

    This cheif justice is an idiot. I hate to call him cheif justice. Not that babar awan is any smart they both should not be what they are. Cheif justice is nawaz shairfs and talibans right hand. These are the two parties that helped him get his seat back. And that is the reaason he frees all the terrorist when they are caughtRecommend

  • Salman
    Jun 28, 2011 - 8:46PM

    @ Imran: In addition to my comments above, in my opinion, that is what the CJ is saying to Awan in between the lines. Meaning “do not ask for pardon of ZAB,” because you cannot ask for “pardon” of somebody who was not guilty to begin with. CJ is also, again in between the lines, commenting on the lawyering skills of Awan by asking him to give arguments and do not indulge in villifying the judges whose impartiality was suspect from day one.Recommend

  • Badshah
    Jun 28, 2011 - 10:51PM

    When Pakistan has got a Chief Justice, Mr. Iftikhar Chahudhry, who is incapable of understanding the intricacies of law you cannot have justice for Bhutto. He will never understand how Bhutto was executed and how it was a judicial murder! Instead of asking Babar Awan to bring sound arguments, another nincompoop like Iftikhar Chaudhry, the Supreme Court of Pakistan should tender an unqualified apology to the nation for hanging Bhutto. Only one point is sufficient for this apology that the Supreme Court that awarded capital punishment in 1979 is that it was constituted by General Ziaul Haq who after suspending the 1973 Constitution amended it to remove the then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Mr Justice Yaqub Ali Khan, and brought in his place a spineless judge, Justice Anwarul Haq. It wasn’t the Supreme Court of Pakistan constituted under the 1973 Constitution which heard the appeal of Z. A. Bhutto, rather it was the Supreme Court of Pakistan which was constituted by general Ziaul Haq that awarded capital punishment. Does Mr. Iftikhar Chaduhry need any other reason to declare Bhutto’s execution as a judicial murder!Recommend

  • Romm
    Jun 29, 2011 - 12:30AM

    Honorable CJ’s often visits ”Midget Judge” who was involved in Judicial Murder of ZA Bhutto. So, CJ’s reaction is the Instantaneous outcome of Espirite-De-corp.
    In police, this notion is called ”Peti Bandh/Bhai”.Recommend

  • Mirza
    Jun 29, 2011 - 2:01AM

    Gentlemen, I agree with your opinion whole heartedly. I did not want to get involved in this debate because it is not taking the facts of ZAB’s case but maligning his lawyers. Hating a lawyer has nothing to do with the merit of ZAB case and questions that have been raised. Nobody can say or expects a lawyer to be an angle. It is like saying if a lawyer did not like a political party 30 years ago then he can never be their attorney.
    Perhaps a couple of examples would amplify my point. During the initial days of Islam, Muslims were tortured by the enemies of Islam and were scared of practicing their faith freely. Our prophet (PBUH) prayed that one of the two worst enemies of Islam Abu Jehal or Umar, become Muslim. Umar who was according to our prophet (PBUH) was no better than Abu Jehal, used to beat up the Muslims. In fact he went to beat his own sister and brother-in-law, because they have become Muslims. The same Umar after changing his loyalties became a sacred name and second caliph. Nobody can or talk about his wrongdoings like Abu Jehal after that.
    In Karbala, Yazid army killed almost the family of our prophet (PBUH). However, after all the killing a Yazidi general had a change of heart and he joined Hazrat Imam Hussain. This general is called Hazrat Hur. I can keep quoting such examples when after even one minute of changing the sides people become hero. I intentionally chose the religious and known examples so even the common Muslims can understand the point. At no place did I compare a typical Pakistani lawyer with any of these holy figures in Islam; these are just examples of how people can change in an instant. In fact according to Islamic teachings “do not badmouth even a non believer, he may become a believer anytime”.
    After more than 30 long years, dictator Zia’s political offspring and right-hand man Nawaz Sharif has become the strong opponent of army dictators and not many people are writing about that. It was only his own party leader Hashmi who demanded that Sharif brothers should apologize the nation for supporting the dictatorship of Zia. However, the Sharifs never made any mistake so why should they apologize? On the other hand despite Babar Awan apologizing and taking up the cause of the first elected PM is still maligned and cannot be forgiven. The amazing thing is when it comes to criticizing Awan it is not the supporters of ZAB but his blood enemies who are pretending to be on his side just to malign the whole case. Here is the summary of what Nawaz Sharif was doing during Zia’s days:
    “He principally rose to public and political prominence as a staunch proponent of the military government of Chief Martial Law Administrator (designated himself as President) and Chief of Army Staff General Zia-ul-Haq during the 1980s. He maintained an alliance with General Rahimuddin Khan, who was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. During his political career, Sharif also had close ties with ISI Director-Lieutenant-General (retired) Hamid Gul, who played a substantial role in the formation of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad- a conservative political alliance that supported Sharif.”Recommend

  • Ammar
    Jun 29, 2011 - 10:01AM

    Let’s ask the CJ to summon Naseem Hassan Shah. He might have some answers. If Justice Dogar can be summoned then why not Naseem Hassan Shah? What surprises me is that CJ, after all what happened doesn’t know that there was a bias on the part of Punjabi Judges. Don’t take my words for that, watch (video) and read (letter) Justice Durab Patel saying (between the lines) that there was a bias. There is no doubt about it. How can Justice Ch. deny this? Assertive tones of our judges won’t help, they must deliver justice. “Let justice be done though the heavens fall.”Recommend

  • Ammar
    Jun 29, 2011 - 10:09AM


    Mirza Sb. Nawaz Sharif is opposing the establishment when he failed to get its attention, remember Shahbaz holding secret meetings with COAS :) So comparing Sharifs and CJ with Hazrat Hur obsolutely ridiculous! :) :) :)Recommend

  • Ammar
    Jun 29, 2011 - 10:24AM

    May I also suggest that CJ should take oath under 1973 Constitution, since he is a PCO judge.Recommend

  • Jun 29, 2011 - 11:55AM

    Imran and Salman!

    I beg to differ with you!… Court order is over and above the people court. People are majorly illiterate. They believe what they are told. Particularly the jiyalas in interior sindh would never ever know the exact details or both sides of picture!.

    For instance, they would never know about the actual social lives of their leaders and how they spent their times in their educational institutes abroad. They just conveniently say its conspiracy theories. I can not agree that such illiterate and un-educated people can be worthy of passing any judgements or reaching conclusions.

    May i ask you if either of you are competent enough in Law to pass the remarks on CJ?Recommend

  • Mirza
    Jun 29, 2011 - 12:28PM

    Dear Ammar, I may not have been clear. I would not support the CJ and Sharifs in this case. I was only talking about Muslim’s belief that a person can change in an instant. I was talking about Babar Awan who has been maligned for changing his loyalties. People do grow out of their mistakes and evolve into something better. Only two days ago President Obama said that he is evolving on gay marriage issue. Al Gore’s father, senator Al Gore Sr. was a known racist. However, he changed his position and lost elections, later he won the same seat again. Babar Awan can grow out of his silly mistake after more than 3 decades.
    Thanks and regards,

  • Ammar
    Jun 29, 2011 - 1:31PM


    Point taken. thx!Recommend

  • Shafique
    Jun 29, 2011 - 1:39PM

    wastage of time and public resources, for God sake he is dead… a dead issue…. got nothing to do with the problems we face today…….. Recommend

  • Ammar
    Jun 29, 2011 - 1:39PM

    @M. Uzair Sukhera:

    Competent people have passed and still are passing comments on the competence and impartiality of CJ. His (CJ’s) remarks are louder than his judgments much can be said about it :)Recommend

  • Maher
    Jun 29, 2011 - 1:49PM

    Bhotto is dead. Why the hell CJ and PM and others are digging the case. Plz address law n order situation, load shading, corruption, rising prices… shame on u guys, u so called leaders Recommend

  • Suresh
    Jun 29, 2011 - 1:52PM


    You could have said just one sentence, that “Bhutto was murdered by a kangaroo court!”Recommend

  • Mahesh Patil
    Jun 29, 2011 - 1:52PM

    Hope sanity prevails upon your own countrymen.I am not only appreciating you about your comment on this article but every comment you write.We need people like you in every walk of life.Recommend

  • Javad
    Jun 29, 2011 - 2:39PM

    There are more burning issues than ZAB´s case. Its not right time to reopen this case when tens of million pakistanis are struggling each day to survive. All the energy they are using on this case should rather be applied to solve the comman man’s issues. Recommend

  • Ishtiaq Ahmed
    Jun 29, 2011 - 4:22PM

    A gross miscarriage of justice was done 32 years ago. The soul of justice was buried with the remains of ZAB. It is time to resurrect the justice. All other arguements are frivolous.Recommend

  • Concerned
    Jun 29, 2011 - 4:46PM

    What a stupid question. The judges involved in the ZAB’s verdict have gone public regarding the judgement made under pressure.Recommend

  • Safir afkhan.
    Jun 29, 2011 - 6:30PM

    we allways do this to our heros look it now what we doing with national hero a.q khan.Recommend

  • Romm
    Jun 29, 2011 - 9:41PM

    Its 100 times more important than 100s of politically motivated SUO MOTO notices taken by CJ.Recommend

  • R
    Jun 30, 2011 - 4:46AM

    ….so he should have been hanged slow?
    He should NEVER have been deposed much less hanged. He was elected by the people and murdered by the Khaki. Recommend

  • Mirza
    Jun 30, 2011 - 5:41AM

    @Mahesh Patil:
    Please do not make me feel more humbled. I am an ordinary Pakistani who is doing his best to empower them with education, freedom from the suppression and to a good free life, just like people of many other nations. I have always preached equality and independence from a colonial system where only the color of master’s has changed. Pakistanis are still ruled by the same cantonments that British have.
    I have been called names, foreign agent and traitor. It is difficult for some Pakistanis to understand and believe that a Pakistani Muslim can spread the message of love, equality and fairness and not hate.

  • Mirza
    Jun 30, 2011 - 8:46AM

    Very honest remarks by the CJ, I could not believe it. Please read the following para from today’s Dawn:

    Many professionals around the world had criticised the verdict, he said. Pointing towards Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq, the chief justice remarked: “We are really thankful to the president for sending the reference under the laws which give him the right (to do so).”

  • molvi_whisky
    Jul 27, 2011 - 6:58PM

    Zia and Maudoodi while prefessing to bring about Nizam e Mustafa refused to try Bhutto under Shariah, because under Sharia only someone proven guilty of taking a life is executed not as in the case of ZAB where he was allegedly not the direct killer. Secondly the evidence against him was weak and based on hearsay upon hearsy – Mehmud Masood ordering A who orders B who subsequently organizes the plot. In any case the target Kasuri wasn’t hit rather his father, so it wasn’t even a case of murder as the target wasn’t murdered. The charge should have have been attempted murder. In a split verdict where 3 out of 7 judges found Bhutto to be not guilty, the majority, i.e. the 4 judges who confirmed the LHC’s sentence of death should have been changed to life in prison. That trial was full of discrepencies, the defence wasn’t allowed to cross examine prosecution witnesses. The prosecution’s case was all over the media, but when it came to ZAB’s turn, the media was thrown out, and it was recorded on camera. Bhutto’s personal servant at Ghari Khuda Baksh confirmed Bhutto’s body didn’t bear signs of hanging by the neck, and that he had seen faces of people hanged and Bhutto’s face didn’t display any such signs. He was murdered.Recommend

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