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Former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf.—Photo by AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court summoned on Monday former president Pervez Musharraf to appear before it on Tuesday to face charges of high treason and barred him from leaving the country.

On Monday the apex court began hearing five identical petitions against the former military ruler seeking his trial under article 6 of the constitution for imposing the state of emergency in 2007.

It is the first time in the country’s history that the Supreme Court has summoned a former military ruler over allegations of misconduct.

A bench comprising Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain directed the federation and all its functionaries to ensure that the respondent did not move out of the jurisdiction of Pakistan until “this order is varied/modified”.

The court said the “interior secretary shall also make sure that if the name of Mr Musharraf is not already on the exit control list (ECL), this shall be done forthwith and a compliance report of this order shall be submitted in court during the course of the day”.

The petitioners also sought trial of retired lieutenant generals Mehmood Ahmed and Muzaffar Usmani as well as retired major generals Aziz Ahmed, Shahid Aziz and Ghulam Mohammad for high treason because, accor-ding to them, they had abetted Gen Musharraf in subverting the constitution.

The court issued notices to Gen Musharraf and the federal government before adjourning the hearing to Tuesday.

Justice Khawaja remarked that the court would pass an appropriate order after hearing all stakeholders. “For us, this case is like any other case pending before this court.”

He said: “It is mandatory for us to complete all legal formalities and instead of deciding the case on the basis of sentiments and emotions, the court will thoroughly examine the matter in question in accordance with constitutional provisions and the law.”

When the petitioners pointed out that Gen Musharraf held the constitution in abeyance twice — in October 1999 and November 2007 — Justice Khilji Arif Hussain pointed out that article 6 was amended in 2010 under the 18th Amendment and the words “held in abeyance” were added to the article after 2007.

Petitioner Sheikh Ahsanuddin, a former president of the Lahore High Court Bar Association’s Rawalpindi division, informed the court that article 6 was amended after the Supreme Court observed in its judgment in the 1972 Asma Jilani case that a usurper might be punished at an appropriate time at a later stage if found guilty of subverting and abrogating the constitution.

He said Gen Ziaul Haq, instead of abrogating the constitution, held it in abeyance to avoid high treason charges and Gen Musharraf did the same in Oct 1999 and then again in Nov 2007.

A. K. Dogar, counsel for petitioner Maulvi Iqbal Haider, told the court that the Sindh High Court (SHC), in its judgment of Oct 14, 2010, observed that Gen Musharraf had abrogated the constitution, but advised the petitioner to approach the Supreme Court to seek directions for the federal government to invoke article 6 against him.

Hamid Khan, a senior lawyer, argued that the punishment for high treason was death sentence or life imprisonment. He requested the court to direct law enforcement agencies to take Gen Musharraf into custody and place his name on the ECL.

Hamid Khan pointed out that while granting protective bail to the former president the SHC had also barred him from leaving the country. Mr Khan said Gen Musharraf would not be able to go abroad through airports, but he might leave the country via different airstrips like Shamsi airbase or sea, he added.

He requested the bench to ask the government to confine the retired general within jurisdiction of the apex court.

Ikram Chaudhry, counsel for petitioner Abdul Hakeem Khan, read out a resolution moved by Senator Mian Raza Rabbani in the upper house of parliament on January 23 last year for trying Gen Musharraf under article 6.

He said the resolution, which was adopted unanimously by the Senate, had called for immediate arrest of Gen Musharraf upon his arrival in Pakistan because he was an accused and a proclaimed offender in cases of murder of Benazir Bhutto and Akbar Bugti, but the government gave him the protocol of a VIP.

Sources in the interior ministry told Dawn that the name of Gen Musharraf was already on the ECL after the SHC, while granting protective bail on March 29, had restrained him from leaving the country without permission.

According to the sources, the interior secretary will submit a report before the court on Tuesday.

The sources claimed that Gen Musharraf would not be able to go abroad through any exit route, including airports, seaports or roads. Under the ECL Ordinance of 1981, if Gen Musharraf tried to leave the country through, he would face legal consequences.

Lawyers: Musharraf won’t attend hearing

Gen Musharraf would not appear personally in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, his lawyers said late on Monday.

“I have directed my panel of eminent lawyers to forcefully represent me in the Supreme Court of Pakistan tomorrow... These cases do not frighten me and I will fight all the cases in the court of law!” Gen Musharraf’s Facebook account quoted him as saying.

His lawyer, Syed Afshan Adil, told AFP that there would be a “security issue”.

The Pakistani Taliban threatened to assassinate Gen Musharraf on the eve of his March 24 return to Pakistan.

“It has been decided that his lawyers will represent him. However when the court considers it necessary he will appear in person,” Mr Adil said.—AFP

Comments (12) Closed

iqbal Hadi Zaidi Apr 09, 2013 02:12am
How come SC is charging my Bhaijan whereas former President Gen Yahya not only broke off Pakistani losing its eastern wing but thousands of Pakistan army people were made POWs but none dared to even question Yahya whereas Bhaijan came back at his own and this is how we treat him. Shouldn't we be ashamed of ourselves for behaving alike? My prayers for my Bhaijan and my curses to those pat traitors like Yahaya. Iqbal Hadi Zaidi / Kuwait /
ahmed Apr 09, 2013 02:22am
Musharraf people of Pakistan have lost complete confidence in you, specially after Lal Masjid incident. You are incompetent. Just go somewhere and spend your old age in dignity, or you will loose all dignity what's little left of. We only salute you for the service you have given to the arm forces in pakistan. Rest assured, people of pakistan have honour and shaoor. YAY HAI NAYA PAKISTAN
farid Apr 09, 2013 02:40am
It is great to see a Pakistani general had to do explaining.I am delighted.
Fazil Apr 09, 2013 02:52am
What a drama. The man has served the country for 30 years and as a COAS and President. He did everything during 9 plus years of his tenure for the betterment of Pakistan. He returned to the country when the civilian Government has virtually destroyed Pakistan in the last five years to safe this country. How could he be a traitor?. We all agree that he made a few mistakes but look at the Governing history of Pakistan who has'nt made mistakes and what about the present Government and the President. Where is justice?? This is purely victamisation and a personal Vandetta on a former President and retired Chief of Army Staff. I urge Pak. Army to come out and show strong protest against this fabricated accusation.
Shahid Latif Apr 09, 2013 03:00am
I think Musharraf should exercise his birth right to wrap up the Apex Court third time. How come he is being tried in a court when he is above the law? Questioning other generals who staged the coup when Musharraf was in the air is the correct thing to do. All abettors who proudly dislodged a civilian government must now face the music. In the past all the focus was always on the top man. Let the other comrades taste some lesson about their constitutional duties.
Mirza Imran Ahsan Apr 09, 2013 04:01am
Supreme Court provided him 2 years when he took over in 1999 ignoring article 6 and legitimsing his government. The rest is history. Emergency rule is sitting government's prerogative. I don't see any reason for this trial.
Dilawer Apr 09, 2013 04:11am
The game is on
Zia Apr 09, 2013 04:20am
Clearly this is beating by the bush - nothing will come out even if Nawaz Sharif becomes Prime Minister or anyone else. It is simple case of wise understanding that Musharraf could not have taken the risk of coming to Pakistan unless he was given assurance of safety and help. So Judges are wasting time as they have been doing since SC has been re-instated. First and foremost is to resolve the cases of anti-state element the TTP who have been murdering people since long. Why the mouth of judiciary is shut. What about the killer of the Governor of Punjab - who were the lawyers who showered petals on this murderer? Pakistan has multiple problems which are mostly its own wrong doings. The whole system is a bunch of confusions, the country is direction less and there is no future vision. None of the leader has wisdom and intelligence to lead the nation - some talk of silly tsunamis, of Arab Spring etc. but they do not see what is at their door step - poverty, disease, illiteracy. This is a land of corruption and deceit - kills their own leaders through intrigues. What nation we are in the making does anybody think not even the wise Chief Justice, a demoralizing, disappointing figure who has his own junta of juveniles.
KhanChangezKhan Apr 09, 2013 05:49am
Mr. Musharraf will never get justice in the presence of Justice Iftikhar Chowdhury and his law agencies opponents. Keeping out himself from this case Justice Iftikhar has given full hand to his favorites and favored Justices to apply his own wishes against Mr. Musharraf. Therefore, we cannot expect a fair justice for Musharraf with the present courts of law. This is his love with the country and its people that having all his life threats and warnings from his opponents, he came to Pakistan otherwise he might could do the same as Nawaz Shariff brothers and Benazir Bhutto did. Mr. Musharraf has to give full access of justice providing his own choice either inside or outside of the advocates. Justice Iftikhar and other his favored Justices as well as advocates and Nawaz Shariff brothers have enmity with Mr. Pervea Musharraf, therefore, it is impossible to justify by the Lower or Higher Courts of Pakistan.
Mushtaq Ahmad Apr 09, 2013 07:55am
Exile Musharaf as punishment
mahmud ahmad Apr 09, 2013 10:13am
What a waste of time and money, poor people die with hunger who care about tham.
Agha Pervaiz Apr 09, 2013 05:51pm
Times have changed for military dictators all over the world. All previous generals starting from Ayub Khan should be tried in absentia. Pakistan