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Bilawal Bhutto Zardari asks SC to apologise

Islamabad: Launching a scathing attack on the Supreme Court, Pakistan`s ruling PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has asked it to apologise for the "role it played in the judicial murder" of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and to ensure there are no "double standards" in the contempt case against Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani.

23-year-old Bilawal, the nominal Chairman of PPP, made the remarks during a strongly-worded speech he delivered at an event at the Bhutto family`s stronghold of Naudero in Sindh province late last night to mark the death anniversary of former President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. He said the time had come for the PPP to "finally get the justice we deserve in the eyes of history."

Referring to a case filed by the PPP seeking a review of the death sentence given to the late President, he said: "I am confident the Supreme Court will not stand in the way… I expect the Supreme Court to finally provide us justice…Justice in the eyes of the people, the PPP and Shaheed Bhutto`s family, we expect the Supreme Court to apologise for the role it played in the judicial murder of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto."

Bilawal referred to the contempt case initiated by the Supreme Court against Premier Gilani for failing to act on its orders to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari, and said he hoped there would "not be double standards" in the handling of such matters by the apex court.

He backed the Premier`s decision not to approach Swiss authorities to revive cases of alleged money laundering against Zardari on the grounds that it would violate the constitutional immunity enjoyed by the President. "Mr Prime Minister you will not violate Vienna Convention, you will not violate the Constitution of Pakistan, you will not desecrate the graves of our martyrs. You may lose your office. You may lose your government but you must do what is right. There is not only the Supreme Court, there is also the court of the people and the court of history," Bilawal said in his speech in English.

"They can threaten to send Yousuf Raza Gilani… to prison but he is a follower of Bhutto Shaheed. We do not fear prison cells," he added. Gilani could face a six-month prison term and disqualification if he is convicted of contempt.

Bilawal took a swipe at other controversial judgements of the courts, such as a verdict that freed the men accused of raping Mukhtar Mai, and the poor record of prosecution of terrorists by the judiciary. "More than 50 per cent of terrorists presented before our courts have been freed. I am told there is a lack of evidence and the fault lies with the prosecution. The rapists of our sister Mukhtar Mai have been freed by the courts. Presumably for the same reasons," he said.

"How can there be enough evidence to hang Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto but not enough evidence to keep terrorists and rapists in prison?" he asked. Bilawal also referred to the widespread perception that the Supreme Court was soft on the leadership of the PML-N, which played a key role in the movement to restore the judges who were sacked by the former military regime, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Cahudhry.

The PPP has often claimed that the apex court`s verdicts have favoured PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and his brother, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. "The Sharifs of Lahore have had their trumped up charges squashed by the courts. I do not believe there will be double standards. I do not believe that Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Larkana is hanged but he does not get justice from these courts while the Sharifs of Lahore are vindicated," Bilawal said.

Referring to the attack on the Supreme Court in 1997 by PML-N workers during the hearing of a contempt case against the then Premier Nawaz Sharif, Bilawal contended that "a Prime Minister who ransacked the Supreme Court is given better treatment over our… Prime Minister who obeys the Constitution and presents himself before the court."

Bilawal`s remarks came against the backdrop of a dragging standoff between the government and the judiciary over several matters, including the reopening of corruption cases against Zardari and a mysterious memo that sought US help to stave off a military coup after the killing of Osama bin Laden last year.

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