ISLAMABAD: A special court on Tuesday concluded proceedings in the high treason case against former military ruler Pervez Musharraf for declaring a state of emergency on Nov 3, 2007 that lasted till the mid of December during which the Constitution remained suspended.

The three-judge court, headed by Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth, held that a verdict based upon available record would be pronounced on Nov 28.

The court observed that the prosecution team before being sacked had submitted detailed arguments which were sufficient to understand their point of view. The incumbent Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government had denotified the entire prosecution team in the high treason case on Oct 24.

Ex-senior prosecutor Dr Tariq Hassan had earlier submitted written arguments for perusal of the court and said the entire evidence had already been placed on record in September 2014.

Mr Musharraf was indicted in the high treason case on March 31, 2014, a few months after the then Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government filed a complaint against him under Article 6.

Former president was indicted in the case in March 2014

The former military ruler was initially represented by the incumbent attorney general, Anwar Mansoor Khan, before he engaged the incumbent law minister, Dr Farogh Nasim, as his defence counsel in the high treason case. The retired general was declared absconder in 2016 as he failed to appear before the court despite repeated summons and the court directive issued to the Federal Investigation Agency to arrest him.

When Dr Nasim assumed the portfolio of law ministry, Barrister Salman Safdar appeared on behalf of Gen Musharraf, but he was barred from arguing the treason case as the court noted that a ‘fugitive’ could not be represented through an attorney unless he surrendered before the court.

Gen Musharraf had left the country in March 2016 with the nod of superior courts as well as the interior ministry but failed to return despite being summoned by courts in different cases multiple times.

When the court resumed hearing on Tuesday, the bench was informed that Reza Bashir, the counsel for Mr Musharraf, had proceeded to Saudi Arabia to perform Umra. Justice Seth observed it was a third time that Musharraf’s lawyer did not appear to assist the court.

However, additional attorney general Sajid Ilyas Bhatti appeared before the court and sought permission to advance arguments. The court reminded him that the federation was not party in this case, as the complaint had been filed by the interior secretary.

The interior secretary then appeared before the court to explain the process for the appointment of a new prosecution team.

Later, the additional AG told the media that the lead prosecutor in the high treason case had tendered his resignation following the change of regime. He said the reason the prosecutor had provided was that he had been engaged by the previous regime for this case and the PTI regime might like to appoint the lawyer of its own choice in this case. Subsequently, the additional AG claimed, the government had to denotify the prosecution team in order to replace them with the new prosecution team.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2019