Pakistan's Supreme Court has given former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, permission to appear personally at the appeal against a death sentence imposed on him fro ordering a political assassination.
MV INTERIOR Pakistan Minister for Information and broadcasting, Mr. Mahmood Azam Farooqui, speaking in English.
TRANSCRIPT: DARBY: "There have been accusations that the Supreme Court, in dealing with Mr. Bhutto's appeal, will do exactly what General Zia tells them to do."
SEQ. 1: FAROOQUI: "No, this is absolutely and completely untrue, because in our country courts are completely free and at liberty to take whatever action they like and the executive does not have any effect on them. Neither it desires to, nor does it have nay effect on them. The judiciary in our county is totally independent and they are free to decide what they like, and the judges who are trying the case of Mr. Bhutto are not going to be appointed by this government. They are the same judges who are appointed by Mr. Bhutto."
DARBY: "You do not feel they will be affected by political pressure?"
FAROOQUI: "No I don't think so. I think our judges have got the integrity to withstand any pressure or to be influenced by any outside pressure."
DARBY: "Surely, though, whatever in your government's view Mr. Bhutto has done, his prison conditions must be a cause for concern?"
FAROOQUI: "In what respect?"
DARBY: "In that in fact it has been reported in the western press that Mr. Bhutto's cell and his conditions generally are quite appalling."
FAROOQUI: "Allow me to say that my personal thinking and the thinking of the people generally in Pakistan, has been that the western press have not been giving proper coverage to the developing country and particularly to my county. And in this prior matter and the matter of Mr. Bhutto the disparities in the news appearing in the newspapers have not reflected the true state of affairs. For example Mr. Bhutto has been given the facilities in the jail which no-one in the past in this sub-continent would have been given in jail, in the position in which he is at the present. He has been given three rooms to live in. He has been provided with servants. He has been given proper food, proper medical treatment and medical treatment of his own choice of doctors - his first class doctors. He has been given all the facilities which no prisoner has ever wanted. We have been in jail, we have been in jail in Pakistan. We would have never though of this facility. Although we were political prisoners-we were not criminal prisoners."
DARBY:"Do you see Mr. Bhutto as a political prisoner?"
FAROOQUI: "No, I see him as a criminal prisoner. And he is a criminal until the Supreme Court takes a view other than the view taken by the High Court, because he stands to be a criminal prisoner who has been sentenced to a punishment on a criminal charge."
REPORTER: JOHN DARBY
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Pakistan's Supreme Court has given former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, permission to appear personally at the appeal against a death sentence imposed on him fro ordering a political assassination. Pakistan's Minister for Information and Broadcasting Mahmood Azam Farooqui, is currently in Britain and on Monday (11 December), Visnews' John Darby asked him about the fate of the former Pakistan leader.