QUETTA: An anti-terrorism court acquitted on Monday former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf in a case relating to the murder of veteran Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti in 2006.
The court also acquitted Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, interior minister in the Musharraf government and President of the Qaumi Watan Party, and Balochistan’s then home minister Mir Mohammad Shoaib Nusherwani.
ATC Quetta Judge Jan Mohammad Gohar announced a short order in the presence of Mr Sherpao, Mr Nusherwani and lawyers of Gen Musharraf and Nawabzada Jamil Bugti, a son of the late Akbar Bugti. The court accepted the applications of the three accused seeking acquittal under Section 265-K of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
It rejected three applications filed by the lawyer of Jamil Akbar Bugti. In one application, he sought exhumation of the body of his father to ascertain whether the body buried in Dera Bugti was that of his father. In another application, he requested the court to summon members of a parliamentary committee, including Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Mushahid Hussain Syed, and some senior TV anchors who met Akbar Bugti after a clash with security forces in Dera Bugti on March 17, 2005, in which over 70 people had been killed.
The court issued permanent arrest warrants for former prime minister Shaukat Aziz, former Balochistan governor Owais Ahmed Ghani and former Dera Bugti DCO Abdul Samad Lasi for not appearing before it, despite various notices having been issued to them.
After the verdict, Jamil Bugti’s lawyer Sohail Rajput said the ATC decision would be challenged in the Balochistan High Court.
In the third application, Jamil Bugti had pleaded that the BHC order for hearing of the murder case without delay should be implemented.
He had nominated Gen Musharraf, Shaukat Aziz, Aftab Sherpao, Owais Ghani, Balochistan’s former chief minister Jam Mohammad Yousaf, Shoaib Nusherwani and Abdul Samad Lasi in the FIR registered in 2009 on the order of the Balochistan High Court after the murder of his father.
Jam Mohammad Yousaf died two years ago and, therefore, his name was removed from the case by the court.
Gen Musharraf was not present in the court when the verdict was announced.
He had obtained from the court exemption from appearance several times on health grounds. He was indicted in the case in January last year in his absence.
Aftab Sherpao expressed satisfaction over the ATC decision and said he was confident from the beginning that the court would “do justice with us”. “I have sympathy with the family of late Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti,” he said.
Talking to journalists on phone from Karachi, Jamil Bugti said: “I was expecting such a verdict from the very beginning because what happened in the case was in front of everyone.”
He said the slogan of independent judiciary was just an eyewash, adding that he would soon challenge the verdict in the Balochistan High Court after consulting his lawyers.
His lawyer Sohail Rajput said: “The verdict is against the spirit of justice. My client was denied justice in the murder case of his father.”
He said the verdict had disturbed him for the time being, but the joy of the accused would prove temporary because the high court would “do justice with us”.
Akbar Bugti was killed on Aug 26, 2006, in a military operation in the mountainous area of Tartani in Kohlu district. At least 20 security personnel, including six army officers, were also killed.
Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2016