ISLAMABAD: Former military dictator retired Gen Pervez Musharraf has requested the special court to postpone the hearing of a treason trial against him scheduled for Thursday (today) until the end of Ramazan due to his precarious health.
In line with the earlier directive of the Supreme Court, the trial court is scheduled to record Gen Musharraf’s statement under Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code to complete the treason trial.
On April 1, the Supreme Court had directed the special court to proceed with the trial on the next date of hearing (May 2) and in case the former president surrendered and appeared before it, he would be entitled to record his statement.
But if he failed to appear, being a PO (proclaimed offender), the special court is empowered to proceed against him even in his absence under Section 9 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973, the Supreme Court had held.
Ex-dictator says life-threatening ailments have forced him not to return to Pakistan
Gen Musharraf is facing treason trial under Article 6 of the Constitution as well as Section 2 of the High Treason Act on a complaint moved by the federal government.
But an application furnished by Barrister Salman Safdar on behalf of Gen Musharraf stated that despite strong willingness and eagerness to return to Pakistan, the life-threatening ailments and medical complications had forced him not to appear before the special court due to circumstances simply beyond his control.
The application pleaded that in view of Gen Musharraf’s serious condition which was also supported by a medical certificate, he rendered his sincere apology for not appearing before the court.
The application recalled that the former president came to Pakistan on March 24, 2013, on his own free will to face the Benazir Bhutto assassination case, judges’ detention case and Akbar Bugti case and that the high treason case was initiated subsequent to his arrival in the country.
Acknowledging and recognising Gen Musharraf’s multiple ailments and cardiac-related issues with the permission of the interior ministry and its approval, his name was removed from the Econtrol List and he was allowed to proceed abroad for medical treatment. Subsequently, he left Pakistan on March 18, 2016.
The application highlighted that the absence of Gen Musharraf from the trial court was not deliberate, wilful or an excuse to avoid the ongoing criminal proceedings. In the light of genuine life-threatening illness and permission by the government to travel abroad for the treatment, he should not be treated as a fugitive from law or PO as was declared through the special court’s interim order of June 19, 2016.
The application pleaded that Gen Musharraf was most eager to return to his roots and homeland and wished to lead defence evidence and answer the prosecution’s case which had been filed with ulterior motive and mala fide intention.
According to the latest assessment of April 29, 2019, undertaken by Dr Faraz Khan at the American Hospital, Dubai, Gen Musharraf’s health had been termed unsafe in case he discontinued treatment and travelled, the application argued.
Moreover, the permission to undertake exertion and travel had plainly been refused by the medical practitioner, the application said, adding that the former president was suffering from cardiac amyloidosis (congestive heart failure), chronic kidney disease (high creatinine in renal system), excessive somnolence (hypersomnia), spinal injury and fracture.
According to the doctor’s assessment, it is not safe for Gen Musharraf rather in his best interest not to travel.
The application pleaded that the former president was extremely apologetic for the inconvenience caused to the special court due to his absence.
Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2019