- Musharraf’s counsel says he plans to return, has ‘medical and security’ issues
- CJP says Musharraf must record statement in treason case
- Says Musharraf, Ishaq Dar are hiding abroad
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar said on Tuesday that former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf who has been indicted in National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) case must return and record statement otherwise the court will keep on issuing red warrants for his arrest.
On March 31, 2014, the former dictator was indicted for suspending the Constitution on Nov 3, 2007. He left in March 2016 for Dubai to “seek medical treatment” and hasn’t returned to the country since.
As a three-judge bench headed by the CJP heard the case on Tuesday, the former president’s counsel Akhtar Shah informed the court that he had talked to his client on September 27.
CJP asked the defence counsel why the “courageous commando” was not returning to the country. The court was informed that Musharraf “respects the court” but is unwilling to return due to security concerns.
“Musharraf has medical and security issues but he has promised that he will return,” Shah said.
Responding to the former president’s defence, CJP said: “I had earlier told you that nobody will arrest Musharraf. He should record his statement in the treason case before a special court.”
“What are the charges against my client?” Shah asked.
Further, the defence counsel contended that his client was not accused in the Lal Masjid case. “Musharraf has not been indicted,” Shah said.
The chief justice said that though it is possible there are no charges against Musharraf in the Lal Masjid case as the Army was called in under Article 245 of the Constitution, but he has been charged with treason”.
The top judge further remarked that the courts could not allow Musharraf to reject their authority.
“If he doesn’t return, we shall keep on issuing red warrants for his arrest.”
Musharraf’s lawyer said that his client had been declared an absconder in a case.
“The verdict of the cases against Musharraf will be strictly according to law,” Justice Nisar said emphatically.
During the hearing, Shah informed the bench that his client was suffering from an ailment of a serious nature. To this, Justice Nisar responded that Musharraf should get his ailment treated.
“I too am suffering from a painful backache. We have arrangements for top-of-the-line treatment for Musharraf’s ailment here,” he said.
“Musharraf must avoid any situation where he may have to return to Pakistan in a way that will cause embarrassment,” the judge remarked adding that the former president and Ishaq Dar are both hiding in foreign countries.
Moreover, CJP added Musharraf will be provided with security no matter where he lands in Pakistan. “We are granting him a protective bail,” he added.
The hearing was adjourned till October 11.
SUPREME COURT ACCEPTS MUSHARRAF’S CONDITIONS FOR RETURN:
On September 25, the Supreme Court (SC) had accepted a slew of conditions put forth by the former president for returning back to the country as it resumed hearing in the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) case on Tuesday.
During the hearing of the case, Musharraf’s counsel Akhter Shah had appeared before a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar and submitted the assets details of the former president.
According to his lawyer, Musharraf owns nothing in the country, whereas he has a flat worth 5.4 million dirhams in Dubai. A farmhouse in Chak Shahzad, worth Rs43.6m, has been leased in Musharraf’s wife’s name, lawyer Athar Shah told the court.
The counsel argued that the former president desired the fulfilment of a few conditions for returning back to Pakistan, including the unfreezing of assets.
To this, the top judge had remarked that Musharraf should return to Pakistan as he would be provided with pocket money and foolproof security under the supervision of the Rangers director general (DG).
“A military brigade would be deputed to safeguard Musharraf if he desires so,” observed the chief justice.
CJP Nisar remarked that the Chak Shehzad residence of the former military general would also be opened and cleaned while a doctor would also be arranged for a medical check-up.
Upon this, Musharraf’s counsel replied that he had talked to his client who seeks seven days to make a decision in this regard. He highlighted that Musharraf faces issues pertaining to accommodation and health.
Upon this, the chief justice remarked that the bench was devising a permanent solution, saying that the embassy would be directed to issue relevant documents to Musharraf.
“We (court) will not inquire the former president about his assets in case he returns,” remarked the top judge.
On the occasion, the top judge quipped in Punjabi: Hor Dasso Ki Chahyda Ae (What else do you want from us), asking renowned lawyer Naeem Bukhari to ensure cleanliness at the residence of the former president.
“Pervez Musharraf holds judiciary in high esteem,” argued Akhter Shah to which the top judge remarked that the conduct reflects whether someone is respecting the judiciary or not.
“The name of the former president was not put on the Exit Control List by the government,” remarked the chief justice and added that neither the judiciary was behind the inclusion and exclusion of his name from ECL.
“Pervez Musharraf is not a coward, he wants to turn up before the courts so he should be permitted to return back to Pakistan,” contended Akhter Shah.
CJP Nisar told Musharraf’s counsel that his client travels across the world for delivering lectures, pressing him for an early return of the former military dictator.
When the bench kept pressing Akhter Shah about seeking the time-frame of Musharraf’s return, the counsel replied that he would consult the former president and would inform the bench later.
The bench had adjourned the hearing for a week.
Feroz Shah Gillani had filed a petition in the court in April to recover ‘huge amounts of public money’ misappropriated by Musharaff and former president Asif Ali Zardari.
Gillani had argued that with the declaration of emergency and passing of the NRO, the constitution was subverted and all criminal and corruption cases against politicians were “arbitrarily withdrawn”.
The NRO was promulgated in Oct 2007 by the government of then-president Musharraf. Under the ordinance, cases against politicians were removed, paving the way for many to their return to the country.