ZAB 'judicially murdered: ex-AG

LAHORE - The execution of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was the result of a conspiracy wherein the Chief Martial Law Administration, General Ziaul Haq was the key character, alleged Maqbool Elahi Malik, then Punjab Advocate General, while taking to The Nation here Monday. Malik, who joined as Advocate General, Punjab, on July 13, 1977 and resigned the office almost one year after, during the early period of the 11-year long military rule of Ziaul Haq, has also offered to appear before the Supreme Court if be called in the hearing of the Presidential reference recently moved to seek advice on reopening of the Bhutto trial, which the PPP government believes was a judicial murder. Maqbool Elahi Malik said as a matter of principle, him being the principal law officer of the province, was required to prosecute the Bhutto trial, but instead other prosecutors were engaged with the case after he remained associated with the proceedings at some length. He said he resigned when he found the case against Bhutto was a 'fabrication by the prosecution and that then chief justice Maulvi Mushtaq was acting under prejudice and bias against Bhutto and was also wanted him punished as per the desire of Ziaul Haq. He said Ziaul Haq was afraid of Bhutto and had expressed this fear while stating on an occasion that of one grave has been dug out; wherein either him or Bhutto has to lay low. He said he knew the conspiracy behind Bhuttos hanging and would disclose it to the Court provided called for it. He said he also knew the characters who played role in the conspiracy. Asked why he was mum for so many years if he knew it was a conspiracy and that some ill-will was involved through the martial law government at the relevant time, the ex-AG said no occasions had come when he could make all these revelations, not even during the time of Benazir Bhutto, the two-time prime minister of the country from 1988 to 1990 and 1993 to 1996. He said neither Ghulam Ishaq Khan nor Farooq Ahmad Leghari as presidents were to move a reference to the SC to get the case reopened. He said Benazir Bhutto as such lacked the capacity to initiate the retrial of the case since Ghulam Ishaq Khan had been very close to Ziaul Haq and Leghari was not at good terms with her. Now is the time to make the revelations, he added. He said Maulvi Mushtaq was an enemy of Bhutto for he harboured the thought that Bhutto bypassed him for the appointment of Chief Justice LHC despite his seniority. And on the Bhutto trial, he said he and Zia were on the opposite poles as such he was not allowed to prosecute the case, which he added, was held at the level of the Lahore High Court at the first step, which in itself was unprecedented and unusual in the judiciary history of the country and showed ill intentions. Maqbool said Bhutto was a true patriot and felt for the poor, but fell victim to the conspiracy of internal elements. To a question whether he was satisfied with the way the defence team led by Yahya Bakhtiar contested the case for Bhutto, he opined that a more capable defence lawyer might have come to plead for Bhutto, but even it were of no use, when a pre-decision had been made about the fate of Bhutto.

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