Sixteen years after the Muslim world’s first prime minister Benazir Bhotto’s murder, her assassins are yet to be brought to justice with crucial appeals related to this significant national matter pending before the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi Bench for the last six years.
Recent political developments have hinted at a potential change in legal representation for former President Asif Ali Zardari in the Benazir Bhutto murder case, with Sardar Lateef Khosa, the current lawyer, expected to be replaced.
Former President Asif Zardari’s plea for the trial of former President General (retd) Pervez Musharraf is anticipated to be dismissed, as it is no longer considered effective. Benazir Bhutto, the woman who fought against the brutal dictatorship of Ziaul Haq, was tragically assassinated on December 27, 2007, as she was returning from a public gathering at Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi. The special Anti-Terrorism Court pronounced its verdict in this case on August 31, 2017, after a decade-long trial.
In the court’s judgment, five arrested individuals, named Rifaqat, Hasnain, Rasheed, Aetezaz Shah, and Sher Zaman, were acquitted, while two police officers, SP Khurram Shahzad, and CPO Saud Aziz, were convicted and sentenced to seventeen years in prison, along with fines of Rs1 million each.
These sentences were challenged in the LHC’s Pindi Bench, and all appeals have remained pending for the past six years. The mystery surrounding the murder of the former prime minister remains unsolved.
According to judicial sources, these appeals may be scheduled for a hearing in the second quarter of October. Both convicted police officers are currently out on bail, while the two accused, Aitezaz Shah and Sher Zaman, have been released. One accused, Abdul Rasheed, remains in detention, and Rifaqat and Hasnain are reported as missing.
The lawyer representing the convicted police officers is former Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tararr. Sardar Lateef Khosa, the current lawyer for former President Asif Zardari, is expected to be replaced in the upcoming hearings.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 25th2023.