‘Civilian doctors should see Musharraf’

Published January 18, 2014
— File photo
— File photo

ISLAMABAD: Mohammad Akram Sheikh, head of the prosecution team in treason trial of retired Gen Pervez Musharraf, objected on Friday to the composition of a medical board ordered to be set up by the special court and suggested that instead of military doctors, eminent civilian cardiologists should have been asked to assess the condition of the former president.

On Thursday, the court directed the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) to constitute the medical board to ascertain the condition of the former army chief and to submit a report by Jan 24.

Gen Musharraf was rushed to the AFIC when he complained of heart problems while going to the special court on Jan 2.

“Top five cardiologists could have been appointed for medical examination of the accused (Musharraf),” Advocate Akram suggested to the three-judge court headed by Justice Faisal Arab of the Sindh High Court.

He said the court had summoned Gen Musharraf four times but he deliberately defied its orders. He requested the court to issue an order for taking Gen Musharraf into custody because there was a possibility that he might escape abroad.

But the court dispelled the impression and said: “We have already been told that his name is on the exit control list (ECL).” The court said it could issue such an order on Jan 24 after the receipt of the medical board’s report.

Anwar Mansoor Khan, counsel for Gen Musharraf, alleged that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had certain malice against his client and the notification appointing judges of the special court was issued in consonance with them.

He said the imposition of Nov 2007 emergency was “a composite decision by a group of people”, but only Gen Musharraf was being victimised.

The counsel contended that Gen Musharraf had imposed the emergency “in pursuance of the deliberations and decisions” of a meeting which was attended by the then “prime minister and governors of the four provinces and with the chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, chiefs of the armed forces, vice chief of the army staff and corps commanders of the Pakistan Army”.

He claimed that former prime minister Shaukat Aziz had advised Gen Musharraf to impose emergency. He read out a letter sent by Mr Aziz to Gen Musharraf in this regard and said the letter had also been incorporated in the Supreme Court’s July 31, 2009, judgment which declared the emergency and actions taken by Gen Musharraf after it as unconstitutional and illegal.

In the letter Mr Aziz criticised the suo motu power of the superior judiciary and termed it an adversarial system of justice which, according to him, demoralised law-enforcement agencies.

“There is widespread perception of overstepping the limits of judicial authority and taking over of executive functions. Privatisation is at standstill and domestic and foreign investors are being compelled to reconsider investment plans, thus adversely affecting the economy,” it said.

The letter alleged that a large number of “hardcore militants, extremists, terrorists and suicide bombers who were arrested and being investigated have been released” (by courts). “The executive measures taken against extremist elements to contain militancy and terrorist activities have, on a number of occasions, been called into question by some members of the judiciary making effective action impossible,” the letter said.

Advocate Mansoor said the emergency had been imposed against ‘some members’ of the judiciary and the government also referred the matter relating to establishment of the special court to the same ‘members’ of the judiciary.

He said that under judicial norms a judge kept himself at a distance in a matter related to him, but in the instant case former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry had played a key role in the establishment of the special court and appointment of its judges. The counsel had to stop the arguments after he was not feeling well and the court adjourned the hearing to Jan 20.

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