ISLAMABAD: The sudden dash of former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf to the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) on Thursday caught unawares the legal team defending the former army chief against treason charges.
“The news about the diversion of Gen Musharraf’s entourage to AFIC was as shocking to the legal team as to the nation,” commented a senior member of Gen Musharraf’s legal team while talking to Dawn.
Even a veteran lawyer like Sharifuddin Pirzada, who is leading the panel defending Gen Musharraf, was upset when he was told during the proceedings that the former president had developed chest pains and had been taken to the AFIC in Rawalpindi.
“It is sad that Gen Musharraf is suffering from heart ailment,” he said. But if someone had contrived the episode to help the former president avoid a court appearance, he had not done any good to Pervez Musharraf, Pirzada claimed.
“It means that he is still under the control of Rawalpindi,” he added.
“I believe he still listens more to his advisers who mainly comprise members of the armed forces than adhering to what his legal team is suggesting,” he said, going on to state that Gen Musharraf’s lawyers had no contact with him from the day he was taken to hospital.
The senior member of the legal team said that before Thursday’s hearing that his lawyers’ team had persuaded Gen Musharraf to appear before the three-judge special court, although earlier it was a part of the lawyers’ strategy to avoid his appearance before the court on Dec 24, then on Jan 1 and even beyond if it could get an adjourtnment.
Advocate Akram Sheikh, the head of the prosecution team, appeared in agreement with Musharraf’s lawyers when he claimed that the admission of Gen Musharraf to the AFIC did not happen on the spur of the moment.
“It looked pre-planned as the forces, including the Rangers and the elite force, had already been posted at a point near the hospital,” the prosecutor told Dawn.
“Anyway, the prosecution team is looking forward to examining the medical report on Jan 6 when the special court will resume hearing,” he said, adding that it was no secret why Musharraf’s appearance in court was being avoided.
He went on to claim that it would result in Gen Musharraf’s indictment for violating the constitution on Nov 3, 2007.
“The people who do not want to see him indicted do not want him to come to the court,” Akram Sheikh explained.
On Saturday, TV channels quoted Advocate Sheikh as saying that members of his family were receiving threats allegedly from intelligence agencies.
Meanwhile, another lawyer of the Supreme Court brushed aside an impression that Sharifuddin Pirzada was representing Gen Musharraf at the behest of some centre of power.
He said that Mr Pirzada was a professional and one of those who had honoured his friendship with Gen Musharraf in testing times.
Mr Pirzada is alleged to be the architect of every provisional constitution order (PCO) after a military coup.
The SC lawyer said he was not surprised by the inclusion of Anwar Mansoor in Gen Musharraf’s legal team.
Mr Mansoor had taken a strong stance against the PPP government when he resigned on April 2, 2010, after developing differences with the then law minister, Babar Awan, over the issue of reopening of graft cases in Swiss courts involving former president Asif Ali Zardari.
He said Mr Mansoor’s father was a close friend of Mr Pirzada and that is why he joined the team of lawyers representing Gen Musharraf on the request of Mr Pirzada.