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ISLAMABAD: The special court seized with the high treason case against former dictator retired General Pervez Musharraf has decided to conduct day-to-day proceedings from Oct 9.

The three-judge special court — comprising Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Yawar Ali, Justice Nazar Akbar of the Sindh High Court and Chief Justice of Balochistan High Court Tahira Safdar (who was not in attendance on Monday) — resumed the proceeding of the case which has been pending since December 2013.

Though the court decided for daily proceedings in the case, there would be limited time for Justice Ali to complete the trial as he is due to retire on Oct 22.

The judge remarked that despite evidence against the accused person, there had been no progress in the trial proceedings for the last several months.

Special court asks interior secretary for ways to repatriate former army chief

The prosecutor, Naseeruddin Nayyar, on behalf of the interior ministry sought adjournment since the head of prosecution, Mohammad Akram Sheikh, had already tendered resignation and the federal government was yet to appoint the lead prosecutor. However, the court disallowed the adjournment request and Justice Ali suggested to the lawyer to proceed since he was also a senior prosecutor.

Mr Nayyar replied that since the federal government had sought time to appoint a lead prosecutor and did not issue instructions to him, he could not proceed. He added that since the court had directed him to lead the case, he had no option.

The court, however, granted prosecution time till Oct 9 when it would initiate day-to-day proceedings.

The special court further directed the secretary interior to apprise the court whether there was any other way to repatriate Mr Musharraf since Interpol was reluctant to hand over his custody to Pakistan.

The trial against Mr Musharraf has been at standstill since March 2016 when the former dictator left the country following removal of his name from the Exit Control List (ECL).

The previous government of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had lodged a complaint against Mr Musharraf in December 2013 for his extra-constitutional steps and holding the Constitution in abeyance on Nov 3, 2007.

The special court indicted Mr Musharraf for high treason in March 2014. The prosecution laid its evidence by September same year. However, thereafter, the special court could not proceed against the former dictator as the Islamabad High Court had issued a stay order and then after the superior courts removed his name from the ECL, Mr Musharraf flew abroad.

The special court then declared the accused as proclaimed offender and ordered confiscation of his properties which could not be attached due to litigation in the courts of law.

Earlier this year, the special court resumed proceedings in the treason case and ordered to block Mr Musharraf’s computerised national identity card and passport. The previous government in May executed the court orders and blocked his CNIC and passport. However, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar during hearing of a case related to disqualification of Mr Musharraf allowed him to return and restore his travel documents.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2018