LAHORE: Former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf has approached the Lahore High Court against the verdict reserved by a special court in the high treason case against him and sought suspension of his trial in absentia.

“The impugned order of the learned Special Court be declared unconstitutional and void in the instant trial and a direction be issued to uphold the fundamental rights of the petitioner,” states the petition of the former military ruler filed through senior lawyer Khwaja Tariq Rahim.

The special court had on Nov 19 concluded the trial proceedings in the high treason case against Mr Musharraf for declaring a state of emergency on Nov 3, 2007. The special court ruled that a verdict would be announced on Nov 28 on the basis of available record.

The petition says Mr Musharraf was unable to return to Pakistan due to his medical condition while the special court declared him proclaimed offender on June 19, 2016 and also seized his family property.

Wants special court’s yet-to-be-announced verdict in treason case declared unconstitutional

It states that the trial did not continue for two years till Sept 10, 2018 when the special court reconvened the proceedings on a day-to-day basis in the absence of the accused (Musharraf).

The petition asks the high court to grant an injunctive relief to Mr Musharraf and suspend the special court’s decision besides staying the trial in absentia until his physical appearance before it.

It refers to a 2016 judgement “Mustafa Impex” by the Supreme Court and argues that the rights of the petitioner be enforced and trial be re-initiated on the basis of the proper procedure contained in the judgement.

Mr Musharraf, in his petition, further asks the court to direct the interior secretary and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to conduct a proper and unbiased investigation implicating all alleged aiders and abettors for the appropriate appreciation of facts and evidence at the trial.

He seeks permission to lead evidence in his defence and to provide answers to the questions already prepared for him by the special court. He also seeks a direction for the special court to decide a pending application under Section 265-K of the Code of Criminal Procedure for his acquittal at the earliest.

He pleads that an independent medical board be constituted to determine his present health condition.

Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi will take up the petition on Monday as an “objection case” as the registrar office questioned its maintainability.

Mr Musharraf left the country in March 2016 after interior ministry removed his name from Exit Control List letting him to travel abroad on medical grounds. However, he failed to return to face the process of law and the trial court finally declared him a proclaimed offender.

On Oct 24 last, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government denotified the prosecution team in the high treason case against Mr Musharraf. Incumbent federal law minister Dr Farogh Nasim and attorney general Anwar Mansoor Khan have been counsel for the former military ruler in the high treason case.

Lastly, Barrister Salman Safdar appeared on behalf of Mr Musharraf before the special court. However, the court stopped him from representing a proclaimed offender. The special court had observed that a fugitive could not defend himself through a lawyer unless he surrendered before the law.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2019