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LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Wednesday gave another opportunity to former military dictator retired Gen Pervez Musharraf to appear before the Supreme Court at 2pm on Thursday (today), warning that otherwise a decision would be made on his nomination papers (as a candidate for elections) as per law.

“The court has already assured him of protection from the airport to the court, but it is not bound to give a written undertaking to anyone,” the chief justice told the counsel for Mr Musharraf during the hearing of a petition challenging the Peshawar High Court’s 2013 verdict on his disqualification.

“What kind of protection does he want? Why is he so afraid?” the chief justice wondered and said that if Mr Musharraf was a commando, he should come back instead of repeating political rhetoric.

Special court for his treason trial reconstituted

“How can a brave commando be so scared? Was he not afraid when he took over a country?” Chief Justice Nisar asked and recalled that Mr Musharraf used to say that he had escaped death many times but had never been scared.

Qamar Fazal, Mr Musharraf’s counsel, stated that his client was ready to face the treason trial but he had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease and a medical board had to be formed for his medical check-up.

Chief Justice Nisar said Mr Musharraf should return on an air ambulance and the court would constitute a medical board for him. “How would he wave his fist during the coming election if he is suffering from Parkinson’s disease?” asked the chief justice.

He warned that if Mr Musharraf failed to avail this concession, the court would decide the matter in accordance with law. “The Supreme Court is not bound to follow Musharraf’s conditions,” he added.

The chief justice dispelled an impression that it was the court that had allowed the former president to go abroad. The government had removed his name from the Exit Control List, the chief justice said, adding that the court decision had been misinterpreted.

“If he does not come, scrutiny of his nomination papers would not be held,” the chief justice told the counsel for Mr Musharraf.

Earlier, the chief justice had conditionally allowed Mr Musharraf to file his nomination papers to contest July 25 general elections, directing him to appear before the court on June 13.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the All Pakistan Muslim League, Shahzad Satti, told Dawn that Mr Musharraf had not booked a seat on any flight so far as he was not expecting that the apex court would give him such a short time to travel back to the country.

“We were expecting that the court would allow him to return after Eid. We will be approaching the court tomorrow (Thursday) to seek time if Mr Musharraf is not able to return by the deadline set by the court,” Mr Satti said.

In Islamabad, the chief justice reconstituted a three-judge special court Mr Musharraf’s high treason trial.

As per a notification issued by the ministry of law and justice, CJP Nisar has appointed Justice Yawar Ali, chief justice of the Lahore High Court, president of the special court. Besides Chief Justice Ali, the court comprises of Justice Tahira Safdar, senior puisne judge of the Balochistan High Court and Justice Nazar Akbar of the Sindh High Court, new induction in the special court.

In March, the special court stood dissolved after Justice Yahya Afridi recused himself from hearing the case. Mr Musharraf’s counsel had raised objections over Justice Yahya heading the court, arguing that the judge had been part of the lawyers’ movement.

The special court, however, maintained its March 8 order to suspend Mr Musharraf’s national identity card and passport. The Supreme Court recently restored the documents with the expectation that the former president would return to the country to face the cases pending against him.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2018