There is no end to the surprises that the government throws at us through its repeated demonstrations of lack of competence and proper planning. The latest such episode was the announcement by the Federal Minister for Information Firdous Ashiq Awan that the federal cabinet had approved five questions of law to be placed before the Supreme Court in the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto case presidential reference under Article 186. The reported details of these questions have appeared in some sections of the media, although Ms Awan had announced that the questions of law as framed could only be revealed after they had been presented in the Supreme Court. These questions as reported are: 1) Whether the trial of Mr Bhutto was a violation of fundamental human rights? 2) Whether awarding a death sentence on the evidence of an approver is not a violation of Islamic laws? 3) The case record has revealed that the judges and the judgement both were biased. Whether such a trial could be upheld? 4) Whether the sentence was correct under the circumstances, incidents and the case framed? 5) Whether Bhutto’s trial was in contrast to the fundamental rights and concerned articles?
If accurate, the reported questions revolve around the major contention of the PPP seeking to redress a historic wrong committed in the form of the judicial murder of its founder leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, which forms the essence of the presidential reference. The Supreme Court earlier had expressed its inability to proceed with the reference unless it raised specific questions of law. On the directives of the Supreme Court, the PPP framed these questions and got their approval from the cabinet. The Supreme Court has appointed 10 amici curiae to assist it, amongst whom are such legal luminaries as Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan, Ali Ahmed Kurd and Abdul Hafeez Pirzada.
Now that the PPP has finally got its act belatedly together, the question arises: was this not what the party was supposed to do before sending the reference? If the government is operating in this manner on the issues close to its heart, perhaps it not even imaginable how they are dealing with issues they perceive to be of lesser importance and hidden from the media glare. These gaffes are the tip of the iceberg. We are witnessing a process of crumbling of the entire governance structure before our very eyes. It is unfortunate that instead of arresting it, the political government is catalysing the further weakening of the state through its lack of vision and competence. – Dailytimes