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Musharraf’s trial in absentia: Govt’s move seen as an election stunt

Published Oct 21, 2012 09:09pm


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Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf speaks at a news conference. — Photo by AP/File

ISLAMABAD, Oct 21: As the government and military were part of the deal that led to the resignation of former President Pervez Musharraf and his subsequent departure from Pakistan, Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) move to seek his trial in absentia in Benazir murder case is being seen as a political gimmick.

Critics point out that since the international powers had facilitated the deal, the Interpol is not issuing the red warrants, causing the delay in his trial.

Besides, some people are also not ready to believe that the FIA officials had fulfilled all the formalities to get the red warrants for Musharraf issued.

According to the sources, under Sub-section 10 of Section 19 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997, the prosecution agency can request the court to try a fugitive in his absence.

Chaudhry Mohammad Aslam advocate, a former protocol officer of Benazir Bhutto, claimed that being party in the deal the government was also reluctant to bring Musharraf back to the country.

He also claimed that they had prepared a weak case against the former president in which he could easily be acquitted.

Mr Aslam had also got a second FIR in this case registered against Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Senator Babar Awan and others.

The aide of the slain PPP leader said the government wanted to use the trial of Gen Musharraf in absentia as an election stunt, since it could not justify Benazir’s murderers being still at large.

Ms Bhutto and 23 other people were killed in a bomb attack outside Liaquat Bagh on December 27, 2007.

The FIA in February 2, 2012, had sent a request to the Interpol through its secretary general based at Lyon (France), seeking issuance of the red warrants for Mr Musharraf.

The Interpol, however, in September, 2012 rejected the FIA request. It claimed that Mr Musharraf was a political personality and asked the FIA to provide more tangible proofs as the available evidence was not sufficient to process the case against Musharraf.

FIA special prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali, when contacted, said that this was the first time in the history of the Interpol that it was asking for what it called “tangible evidence” from a prosecution agency for issuing the red warrants.

This is a matter of clear discrimination by the Interpol because in other cases, it never sought evidence from the Pakistani investigation agencies, he said.

The examination of the evidence is the job of a court, he said adding the ATC, which was the court of competent jurisdiction, had declared Musharraf proclaimed offender in the case.

He said that the FIA was considering to conduct his trial in his absence and a petition in this regard would be filed in the ATC next month.

Barrister Syed Ali Zafar, an international law expert, told Dawn that since former president was living in the UK, his repatriation would not be an easy job for the FIA as Pakistan had not signed any extradition treaty with the UK.

According to him, repatriation in the criminal cases was an easy matter but the requests for repatriation of political personality depended on the consent of the country where the required person lived.

As far as the matter of his trial in absentia is concerned, Barrister Ali said, the court in such cases decided the matter in accordance with the statute and the merits of the case, and the accused person, even after his conviction, could request the court for re-trial after surrendering before it.

Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif, spokesman for Pervez Musharraf, when contacted said that an accused could not be tried in absentia anywhere in the world because it deprived him of his right to fair trial.

The Supreme Court also in its several judgments had declared the trial illegal, he added.

Interpol examined all aspects of FIA request and then declared that the case against Musharraf was based on insufficient evidence, he added.

Replying to a question he said Musharraf had already announced his decision to return to the country before next general elections. “We have also made arrangements for obtaining his bail before arrests from the courts,” he concluded.


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Comments (12) Closed

khanm Oct 22, 2012 02:00pm
No one can touch Musharraf you are absolutely right. After all he represents military and they are untouchable....
Mehmood H. Bhanji Oct 22, 2012 05:33pm
let the people deside let him come back , is that not Ms. bhutto,nawaz shariff anf whole lot of others.For the simple fact I am sure we can find better things to do for the nation with our limited resources.ALLAH HAFIIZ
Asif Oct 22, 2012 07:38pm
InshAllah. Hope to see him take part in Pakistani politics soon.
alileo12 Oct 22, 2012 12:31pm
He had already retired. What could he possibly achieve from murdering Ms Bhutto? Ms Bhutto says in her book 'Reconciliation' that Mursharraf wanted her to come to Pakistan. Maybe he wanted to be in partnership with her.He knew that if he was to leave then Ms Bhutto would act as an important balance in the politics of right and left. He being a moderate leader would never imagine to leave the country to PML-N and JUI alone.
Asad Oct 22, 2012 06:47am
Jiye Musharraf - no one can touch him. He will come back and he will get back into politics. Causing a big swing! you will see.
azhar Oct 22, 2012 07:58pm
i agree with u asad,,,
Shankar Oct 22, 2012 07:59am
Stop this meaningless witch-hunt! Don't play into PML-N's hands!
nayyar51 Oct 22, 2012 08:21am
This news item has two aspects as following: Firstly, if the Interpol is demanding evidence against Musharraf, FIA can provide them the UN investigation report along with all other relevant documents to substantiate its case for arrest of Musharraf by the Interpol. Secondly, the PPP leadership and the government, must come clear on the issue that, why the then Pakistani ambassador in China, Masood Khan accorded full protocol and gave official dinner in the honour of Pervaiz Musharraf, when he visited Beijing, two months after FIA requested the Interpol to arrest Musharraf? Moreover, why government later on, decorated Masood Khan with a high civil award and posted him to the most lucrative position in the world i.e. as permanent representative of Pakistan at UNO, New York? Does this means that the government is playing double game with the public; and in fact, grossly insulting the grave of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto: by rewarding the person who gave all the protocol and respect to accused person, who is being sought by the court, in connection with the murder of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. This makes the role of the high PPP government functionaries, very suspicious, for which the trial court must take due cognizance.
Guest62 Oct 22, 2012 03:39pm
You scratch my back I will scratch yours . Musharaf did it with BB under the guarranty by intl powers and the Current COAS Gen Kiyani ) so AAZ being a very best friend of freinds as he pronounce himself , is paying back the gratitude by scratching the Mushy's back ( the protocol and dinner by the Embassador in China , was a series of the same and AAZ being a very good friend of friends who look after him , decorated the same embassador and then gave him the most lucative and do nothing job at UN )
Fawad Khan Oct 22, 2012 02:11pm
We shall welcome Musharraf if he chooses to come back to the country he worked hard for, and took brave and bold decisions that will sure mark him, if not now, one of the greatest leaders Pakistan has ever seen... Remember, he gave us the slogan "Sab sy pahlay Pakistan"...
Zafar Malik Oct 23, 2012 01:33am
people want Musharraf back to pull the country out of this mess it is in now. He provided Good Governance and introduced many positive changes, like District Governments, Freedom of Press, remarkable progress in higher education, a stable economy, freedom from IMF and the list goes on. The person who was responsible for BB's protection is now our Interior Minister, Mr. Rehman Malik. Has any one ever asked him what kind of security arrangements he had made for her? Being her chief security adviser how could he allow her to face such a huge crowd with such a childish protection plan? who allowed her to have a roof window on her bullet proof car? who allowed or advised her to stick her head out of car roof? Where was Mr. Malik and other Jialas when she was attacked? Even a child can see that BB was killed because of horribly sloppy security arrangements by the incompetent people of her party assigned to protect her, and her own carelessness. If you view the footage, you can find dozens of occasions when any one could approach her and easily kill her.
Qasim Oct 23, 2012 12:57am
Well i Can only say Musharraf is a great leader and he can build up Pakistan again. Just to get a Power of Seat.