A special court on Thursday ordered Pervez Musharraf to appear before it on May 2 in a case pertaining to charges of high treason against the former president.
A special court had indicted Musharraf for high treason in March 2014. Musharraf left for Dubai in 2016 to "seek medical treatment" and hasn't returned since. Earlier this month, he was admitted to a hospital in Dubai after suffering a reaction from a rare disease for which he is already under treatment.
Defending lawyer Salman Safdar said that the former president wished to appear in court on May 13. Upon hearing this, the three-member bench headed by Justice Tahira Safdar directed Musharraf to appear in court before Ramazan.
"If he can come to court on May 13, Musharraf can also appear before the court on May 2. If he doesn't, the court will pass an appropriate order regarding recording his statement," Justice Tahira said.
The defence lawyer was also handed a questionnaire that the former president is expected to answer under Section 342 of the Code of Criminal Procedures (CrPC).
Earlier in the hearing, Safdar had submitted an application in court asking for the case to be discarded on the basis of CrPC Section 265 (Language of record and judgment).
The lawyer argued that Musharraf's case should be treated like any other case. "You cannot record a statement under Section 342 in Musharraf's absence. If the suspect is to be punished, his presence in court is necessary."
Justice Tahira said that the court would hear the new request later. "First, tell us whether your arguments regarding Musharraf's appearance in court have been completed."
Returning to the original question of Musharraf's appearance in court, Justice Tahira asked the prosecution lawyer what options the court had if a suspect does not appear in court in such a case.
The prosecution's lawyer replied that in the absence of the suspect, his lawyer's appearance could be counted as his appearance in court.
"If the lawyer is also declining to appear before the court then what happens?" Justice Tahira asked.
"In such a case, under Section 9 of special court rules, the court itself can appoint a lawyer," the prosecutor responded.
Musharraf's lawyer requested the complete record of treason case, to which the court said that a formal written application needs to be submitted for the procurement of those documents.
Once again touching upon Musharraf's health issues, the lawyer said that the former president is suffering from heart issues and is also undergoing chemo therapy, which requires him to remain at the hospital for eight hours every day. The lawyer also said that he had recently taken a fall and hurt his back.