ISLAMABAD: Former military ruler retired General Pervez Musharraf on Monday challenged the order of the special court, seized with the high treason trial, for recording of his testimony through a commission.
Gen Musharraf, through his counsel Barrister Salman Safdar, filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court against the constitution of the commission.
An IHC bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani will take up the petition on Tuesday (today).
The petition said that Gen Musharraf was ready to testify before the court, but due to his deteriorating health he was unable to record his statement either through the commission or in person.
Former president says he is unable to record statement because of deteriorating health
Giving a brief background of the case, the petition said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government had constituted the special court on Nov 20, 2013 to try Gen Musharraf on high treason charge.
A complaint was filed against Gen Musharraf under Article 6 for subverting the Constitution on Dec 13, 2013.
In January 2014, the petitioner’s old age combined with the innumerable stresses and anxieties bearing on his mind resulted in his worsening health. On account of a family medical history leaning towards heart problems, the petitioner began suffering discomfort in his arm and chronic chest pain.
On Jan 2, 2014, when the petitioner was en route to the special court, he experienced acute chest pain. He was immediately rushed to the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC), Rawalpindi, for a medical check-up.
The special court constituted a medical board of senior doctors and asked it to submit a report on the petitioner’s medical condition. On March 31, the medical board confirmed that the petitioner suffered “coronary artery disease”. It further stated that the serious and unpredictable nature of the disease necessitated close and constant supervision.
Later, as the petitioner’s cardiac problems showed no signs of improvement, his medical condition became too precarious to risk ordinary medical treatment. The healthcare facilities available in Pakistan were not adequately equipped even to diagnose the disease. The petitioner was advised to seek healthcare abroad as it became necessary to seek the advice of international experts.
On March 16, 2016, the Supreme Court upheld the Sindh High Court’s June 12, 2014 order of removing the petitioner’s name from the ECL. Subsequently, the petitioner went abroad for a medical check-up.
However, the court declared him a proclaimed offender and his family property in Pakistan was seized by the government. As a result, the proceedings in the treason trial remained suspended from July 2016 to March 2018.
Since the prosecution evidence had been closed and the trial was at the stage of recording statement under Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), it was necessary to first procure the petitioner’s physical attendance before the special court and then, subsequently, resume the trial.
On Sept 10 this year, the special court decided that the trial proceedings would resume and the case would be taken up on a daily basis. This step was taken without granting due consideration to the circumstances in which Gen Musharraf left Pakistan and the strong medical reasons for which his stay abroad had been prolonged, the petition said.
The court also asked the defence counsel to contact Gen Musharraf and determine whether the petitioner would like to have his statement under Section 342 of the CrPC recorded through Skype/video link.
The petition said Gen Musharraf was “severely ill”.
Citing the medical report submitted to the special court, the petition said: “The report indicates a rare form of cardiac disease causing the freezing of the heart muscles, resulting in the reduced capacity of the petitioner’s heart to pump blood. The disease is in its late stages and requires consistent medical intervention.”
The petition requested the high court to set aside the order of the special court.
Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2018