Former President Pervez Musharraf.—File Photo
ISLAMABAD: All eyes will be on Attorney General Munir A. Malik rather than judges of the Supreme Court on Monday (today) when the apex court will take up various petitions seeking trial of former military ruler retired General Pervez Musharraf under treason charges.
The Monday’s hearing has acquired significance as the new attorney general is expected to inform the court of the stance of the PML-N government about the court proceedings against the former military ruler who had overthrown the previous government of the party in October 1999.
Mr Malik, who was a frontline leader in the movement for the reinstatement of judges in 2007, is also appearing before the apex court for the first time in this sensitive and unprecedented case in which a former military ruler is being tried under treason charges for the first time in the country’s chequered history.
During the last hearing on June 6, advocate Ahmad Raza Kasuri who represents Gen Musharraf had requested the court to adjourn further proceedings till the time the attorney general made a statement before the bench suggesting the stance of the PML-N government. The request was made by Mr Kasuri against the backdrop of an earlier position taken by the caretaker government of Mir Hazar Khan Khoso. Former attorney general Irfan Qadir in a written statement had stated before the Supreme Court on April 22 that the issue of prosecuting Gen Musharraf should be best left for the elected government since any decision by the caretakers would become a controversial exercise in the long term for both political parties and institutions of the state.
Sources in the government told Dawn that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had convened a meeting of the federal cabinet on Monday (today) and the issue of Gen Musharraf’s trial under Article 6 was expected to be discussed in it.
Information Minister Pervez Rashid confirmed the cabinet meeting, but denied that the Musharraf case was on the agenda.
The cabinet meeting will be held without a law minister as the prime minister has already withdrawn law ministry’s portfolio from Zahid Hamid in an apparent move to save the government from any possible embarrassment after filing of a petition by a lawyer seeking Mr Hamid’s trial along with Gen Musharraf for ‘high treason’ since he was also the law minister in the cabinet of former dictator.
The petitioner also requested the court to direct the concerned office to take all steps and measures to keep intact the record of that period without any manipulation, tampering, change or misplacing it.
Information Minister Rashid said the new law minister would soon be appointed and the party had many choices. “Please wait. The attorney general is about to appear before the court, only after a few hours,” he said when he was asked about the government’s stance in the case.
Gen Musharraf, who returned to the country in March after three-year exile, is presently under house arrest at his luxurious and high-security farmhouse in Islamabad due to cancellation of his bail in the murder case of Nawab Akbar Bugti. Besides treason charges and Bugti case, he is being tried in the judges’ detention case and Benazir Bhutto’s assassination case.
Sources in the PML-N told Dawn that Riaz Pirzada and retired Justice Iftikhar Cheema were among the probable candidates to become the new law minister.