ISLAMABAD, Aug 11: Eight bar associations across the country had passed resolutions advocating the right of appeal for Adnan Rashid in a case regarding the attempt on the life of retired Gen Pervez Musharraf in 2003.
Adnan Rashid, an Al Qaeda-linked former employee of the air force, is the alleged mastermind of the jailbreak in Dera Ismail Khan on July 30.
The associations passed the resolutions for granting the right of appeal to Rashid and other convicts in the case after the Supreme Court had dismissed appeals against their conviction by a military court.
Rashid, a former PAF junior technician, was among 12 people convicted in 2005 by the military court for attacking the convoy of Gen Musharraf in December 2003.
The other convicts were PAF chief technicians Nawazish Ali and Khalid Mehmood, Naik Arshad, Niaz Mehmood, Zubair Ahmed, Rashid Qureshi, Ikhlas Ahmed, Rana Naveed and civilians Mushtaq Ahmed, Ghulam Sarwar Bhatti and Amir Sohail.
They had been arrested for their alleged role in suicide attacks on Gen Musharraf on Dec 14, 2003, at Jhanda Chichi bridge in Rawalpindi and on Dec 25, 2003, in front of a petrol pump near the same place.
After in-camera hearing, the Field General Court Martial (FGCM) awarded death sentences in July 2005 to Rashid and other accused under the Army Act, 1952, which were later confirmed by the vice chief of the army staff.
In 2006, through counsel retired Col Mohammad Akram, Hashmat Ali Habib and Ikram Chaudhry, the convicts filed appeals in the Supreme Court against the FGCM sentence.
The convicts informed the court that they had been condemned unheard and there was no evidence against them.
They requested the apex court to review the FGCM sentence and to hear them through their counsel.
Earlier, the Lahore High Court (LHC) had rejected the plea of the convicts citing Clause 3 of Article 199 of the constitution which bars the courts from hearing cases related to armed forces personnel.
The Supreme Court upheld the LHC order and dismissed the appeals on Sept 25, 2006.
The convicts filed applications for review of the judgment but they were also dismissed in March 2011.
The bar associations of Rawalpindi, Abbottabad, Chakwal, Bahawalpur, Kahror Pakka, Kahuta, Kot Addu and Kotli (Azad Kashmir) passed the resolutions between June and August 2011 urging the federal government to file a review against the conviction.
The resolutions said “Article 199(3) of the constitution which places bar on the jurisdiction of high court in the matters relating to armed forces and the persons subject to the Army Act need to be scrapped”.
They demanded that “right of appeal, being a fundamental right, should be provided to all the members/employees of defence forces against the unilateral judicial and administrative decisions of military authorities before the concerned high courts as it has been provided in all the democratic countries”.
Before that, the Ex-Servicemen’s Society of Pakistan, an association of over 500,000 ex-military employees, had also adopted a resolution against the constitutional bar of Article 199(3) which restrained the high courts from hearing military related cases and 184(3) which barred the Supreme Court from undertaking cases related to the service of army personnel.
In April last year, Rashid and 380 other prisoners escaped from the Bannu Central Jail after the Taliban carried out an attack primarily to free him. A resident of Chhota Lahor area of Swabi, Rashid is fluent in English, Pashto and Urdu. He joined the PAF in 1997 and was around 24 when he was arrested in early 2004.
In an interview published in the March issue of an English language Jihadi magazine, Azan, Rashid alleged that “the Article 199(3) of the constitution of Pakistan provides immunity to the verdicts of military courts, as was done to us in our in-camera trial. The military were the judges, the plaintiffs, and the advocates; so how can one expect any justice from them? So what they did, nobody could touch or alter it.”
However, contrary to his stance before the courts that he was in Quetta at the time when convoy of Gen Musharraf was attacked and had nothing to do with it, Rashid in the interview not only admitted that he was part of the plan for the attack but also tried to justify it, saying the former ruler had made Pakistan a frontline state in the war against ‘Jihad’.
“The operation against Musharraf was not planned like this earlier; in the beginning we wanted to kill him in the Ideas (defence) exhibition in Karachi but we couldn’t succeed. The second time, we wanted to hit his aircraft with an RPG from Shah Sultan area outside the Chaklala base but we failed. The third time we planted explosives of about 150kg under the Jhanda Chichi bridge in Rawalpindi but that just missed his car.”
In the interview, Rashid also apparently hinted at the recent jailbreak to release terrorists. “I want to give them (prisoners) glad tiding that soon our brothers will strike on their cages to free them,” he said.