ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) did not permit the counsel for former military dictator, retired Gen Pervez Musharraf, to argue a petition seeking directions to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to probe the alleged “wrongdoings” of the former military ruler.

After hearing brief arguments of the petitioner on Thursday, the two-member IHC bench reserved order on the maintainability of the petition.

The petition was filed by an ex-serviceman, retired Lt Col Inamur Rahim in Jan 2014 and was pending for adjudication since.

The petitioner had in Dec 2017 written to the chief justice and requested him to appoint a supervisory judge, as had been appointed to monitor the progress on the trial against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, for the swift disposal of the cases in which Mr Musharraf is nominated as an accused.

Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb heard the petition on Thursday. The bench refused to hear the arguments of Mr Musharraf’s lawyer, retired Maj Akhtar Shah, saying that his client is an absconder and fugitive of the law and that the counsel may therefore not be given the right of audience till the surrender of the former military ruler.

The petitioner alleged that as the chief of army staff as well as the president of Pakistan, Mr Musharraf violated his oath according to which he was duty bound to defend the country and protect its citizens. Referring to Musharraf’s book, ‘In the Line of Fire’, page 237 and a chapter titled ‘Man Hunt’, the petitioner said the former military ruler has admitted to handing over a large number of people to the US in order to make money.

In his book, Mr Musharraf has written: “We have caught many others, some are known to the world, some are not known; we have captured 689 and handed over 369 to the United States. We have earned bounties by taking millions of dollars”.

The petitioner also alleged that Mr Musharraf “injected corruption into the senior hierarchy of the armed forces by allotting them plots over and above their entitlements”.

According to the petitioner, when he approached NAB against the alleged corruption, the bureau did not entertain his application with the observation that these allegations pertain to the tenure of retired General Pervez Musharraf as chief of army staff and president of Pakistan which do not fall under the ambit of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999.

In 2014, Mr Musharraf’s counsel Akhtar Shah submitted a reply on behalf of former military ruler saying that NAB Ordinance 1999 does not cover the acts of corruption of any army officer during his tenure of service therefore the complaint was rightly returned by NAB.

During Thursday’s hearing, the petitioner requested the court to direct NAB to initiate proceeding against Mr Musharraf.

The bench asked how the court could pass such directions to NAB as under NAO 1999, there is a certain procedure for dealing with complaints.

In response, the petitioner’s counsel Laeeq Swati said that in a July 28, 2017 verdict of the Supreme Court, there is precedent that directions may be given to NAB for preparing and filing of a reference.

He said he is not asking directions for filing a reference but the matter may be referred to the anti-corruption body for a just and transparent inquiry.

The bench reserved the order on the maintainability of the petition which was not announced till the filing of this report.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Musharraf’s counsel said he is confident the court will dismiss the petition since it is frivolous. He said the former military dictator is considering filing a defamation suit against the petitioner for filing a derogatory petition.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2018