ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is actively pursuing the reopening of the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto execution trial to “expose the killers of the great leader”, a senior party leader said.

“Asif Ali Zardari has recently filed another appeal in the Supreme Court to reopen the trial. We want to expose the killers”, senior PPP leader Maula Bux Chandio said while talking to The Nation.

“Although the former Chief Justice (Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry) made a remark that Bhutto did not get a fair trial, we still want an official verdict,” the former law minister said.

“After Babar Awan’s licence was cancelled by the Supreme Court, the case went into the deep freezer. However, we have not given up and Asif Ali Zardari has filed a plea in the Supreme Court to reopen the trialm” he added.

The PPP leader said the party will not go-slow regarding the reopening of the trial. “We want to clean the history as soon as possible. We want justice for Bhutto,” he remarked.

Thirty-eight years back on July 5, 1977, the military regime of General Ziaul Haq overthrew the democratically-elected government of PPP founder Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

In a message to mark the day, PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that dictatorial forces continue to hound Pakistan in different garbs and crush the dreams of the founding fathers.

The young Bhutto said, “Dictator’s eggs have grown into full monsters of terrorism, extremism, dictatorial mindset, intolerance and poverty. This is what tin-pot dictator Zia had inflicted on the country and Pakistan is continuously reeling under miseries”.

Former President Asif Ali Zardari had on April 2, 2011 approached the Supreme Court through a presidential reference under Article 186 of the constitution to seek its opinion on revisiting the Bhutto’s murder trial but the reference remains undecided for the past four years.

“The PPP had never intended to seek revenge but it wanted to put right a historic wrong and thereby vindicate the position of the founding chairman of the party”, Zardari’s office had said in a statement after he signed a request for the Supreme Court to revisit the trial.

Bhutto’s political career began as a member of President Iskander Mirza’s cabinet, before being assigned several ministries during the presidency of Field Marshal Ayub Khan from 1958.

Later Bhutto fell out with Ayub Khan and was dismissed from the government. After uniting the left-wing mass, Bhutto founded the PPP in 1967 and contested 1970 general election held by President Yahya Khan- Ayub Khan’s successor.

Following the Fall of Dhaka, Bhutto set about rebuilding Pakistan and he stated his intention to ‘rebuild confidence and rebuild hope for the future’. By July 1972, President Bhutto had recovered around 93,000 prisoners of war and 5,000 square miles of Indian-held territory after signing the Simla Agreement with Indian premier Indra Gandhi.

In foreign affairs, he strengthened ties with Soviet Union, China and Saudi Arabia, and recognised the sovereignty of Bangladesh. Domestically, Bhutto’s reign saw parliament unanimously approve a new constitution in 1973, after which he endorsed Fazal Ilahi’s bid for president, and assumed instead the newly empowered office of prime minister.

He also played an integral role in initiating the atomic-bomb programme of the country. His economic programme was based on the nationalisation of much of Pakistan’s fledgling industries, healthcare, and educational institutions.

The PPP won the 1977 parliamentary elections easily. However, a conservative alliance alleged widespread rigging, and violence escalated across the country.

Finally on 5 July 1977, then chief of army staff General Ziaul Haq deposed Bhutto in a coup, and had the former prime minister controversially tried by the Supreme Court for authorising the murder of a political opponent. He was convicted and executed in 1979.

Bhutto’s hanging by the military ruler General Ziaul Haq was one of the shocking events of Pakistan’s turbulent political history.

Despite all his weaknesses, many Pakistanis, even Bhutto’s critics, believe that the murder trial held under the dictatorial regime was seriously flawed and it should be reopened.

Legal expert Tariq Mehmood said the incumbent President Mamnoon Hussain can withdraw the presidential reference seeking reopening of the Bhutto trial. “He has the right to do so but I don’t think he will go for it because it will be very difficult for the government to take such a decision”, he said.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz had opposed the idea of seeking reopening of the Bhutto trial in 2011 but did not give any statement after forming the deferral government. In 2011, the PML-N ruled the Punjab province while the PPP led the government in the centre.

“We think the retrial should have been done during Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s tenure (as the chief justice). There were so many suo moto actions at that time and so much activity, so we could have gone through this (Bhutto reference) as well. We still believe we will be able to vindicate our point of view regarding Bhutto’s judicial murder”, remarked Maula Bux Chandio.