SC verdict on Army Officers appeal in case of conspiracy to overthrow Benazir Bhutto government

SC verdict on Army Officers appeal in case of conspiracy to overthrow Benazir Bhutto government

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court rendered a decision that dealt with the appeals of two former army officers convicted in connection with a conspiracy to overthrow the government of Benazir Bhutto in 1995. The highest judicial authority in the land, represented by Justice Munib Akhtar, upheld the prison sentences that had been previously imposed on Colonel (retd) Azad Minhas and Colonel (retd) Inayatullah Khan.

The verdict, delivered on February 15, 2022, marked the culmination of a legal battle that had persisted for several years.

The origins of this case trace back to 2016 when both officers turned to the Supreme Court for recourse after the Lahore High Court had dismissed their pleas challenging the Field Court Martial's decision.

This military tribunal had sentenced Colonel Minhas to a two-year prison term and Colonel Inayatullah to four years, in addition to their removal from service. After careful deliberation, the three-judge Supreme Court bench, comprising Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Munib Akhtar, and Justice Sayyed Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi, ultimately reached a consensus in February 2022, concluding this chapter of the legal saga.

The events that led to the arrests of these two army officers, along with retired Maj-Gen Zaheerul Islam Abbasi and Brig Mustansir Billah, date back to September 26, 1995. The charges against them revolved around an alleged plot to disrupt a scheduled meeting of corps commanders at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi on September 30 of that year.

Their purported objectives included assassinating Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Army Chief Gen Abdul Waheed Kakar, senior cabinet ministers, and military leaders. Furthermore, they aimed to proclaim the establishment of an Islamic Khilafat system, with Maj-Gen Abbasi as its leader