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Musharraf’s speeches to be reviewed by JIT

Former President General (retd) Pervez Musharraf.—File Photo
Former President General (retd) Pervez Musharraf.—File Photo

ISLAMABAD: A joint investigation team (JIT) constituted by the district administration and police to investigate the role of former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf in the judges’ detention case started its work on Sunday.

It decided to seek record of the statements and speeches made by the former president after imposing emergency in the country on Nov 3, 2007.

Sources said the JIT, headed by SP, City, Capt (retd) Mohammad Ilyas, was reviewing the statement Gen Musharraf had recorded before a police team at his farmhouse after rejection of his bail plea by the Islamabad High Court last week.

The JIT plans to obtain the record from the Ministry of Interior and Cabinet Secretariat regarding the arrest of the judges of the superior courts.

The ex-army chief is under detention at his luxurious farmhouse on the orders of an anti-terrorism court that granted his 14-day judicial remand on Saturday with the directive that the accused be presented before it on May 4.

The sources said that in his initial statement the former president had defended his act of imposing emergency, saying he had made all decisions at that time after detailed discussion with “relevant departments”. The former military ruler, the sources said, had stood by his speech which he had made while announcing imposition of emergency, which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court on July 31, 2009.

In his statement, Gen Musharraf said that at that time there was a democratic government headed by an elected prime minister. Having no regret for his act, the former president said all his steps had been in the best interest of the country.

When contacted, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Islamabad, Bani Amin Khan, confirmed that the JIT had been constituted in accordance with the Anti-Terrorism Act and it had started investigation. “I have instructed the team to give me a report on a weekly basis.”

The head of the JIT is a former army officer, who has been a member of the Islamabad police team for the past three years. The JIT also comprises representatives of the ISI, IB and police officers.

Meanwhile, the security personnel deployed at the farmhouse of the former president which has been declared a sub-jail did not allow any visitor to meet Gen Musharraf.

His dream of contesting the May 11 polls has already been shattered by rejection of his nomination papers from all the four constituencies in Karachi, Islamabad, Kasur and Chitral from where he wanted to contest for National Assembly seats. Gen Musharraf, who had ruled the country till August 2008 as an absolute ruler after dismissing Nawaz Sharif’s government in 1999, had earlier announced that he was ready to face the charges against him in courts.

Besides the judges’ detention case, he is also facing charges of abetment in the murders of Benazir Bhutto and Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti.

Talking to reporters outside the farmhouse, the secretary general of the All Pakistan Muslim League, Dr Mohammad Amjad, alleged that the leader of his party was being subjected to the worst treatment in his own house.

“He has been kept in two rooms of his house and even his wife and family members are not allowed to meet him,” he alleged.

He said Mr Musharraf had also not been allowed to use telephone and internet facilities and had been living in a situation which could be described as worse than a jail.

Another APML leader and Musharraf’s lawyer, Ahmed Raza Kasuri, claimed at a news conference that military officials were concerned about the way the former head of state was being treated.

Terming the army as one ‘Biradri (community)’, he said: “If lawyers are the Biradri of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry then we can call army a family of Gen Musharraf.”

He claimed to have met a number of serving and retired generals over the past few days and said they had criticised the treatment being meted out to Mr Musharraf.

He criticised the judiciary and said the APML chief was being kept out of the May 11 elections. He said Chief Justice Chaudhry had taken oath thrice under Provisional Constitution Orders. He claimed to have a list of over 150 judges who had taken oath of office under the controversial PCOs.

Mr Kasuri said more than 500 people had violated Article 6 of the constitution in the past, but only Gen Musharraf was being tried for it. “The cut-off date of the treason act is March 23, 1956, and many rulers of the past, like Gen Ayub Khan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Gen Ziaul Haq and Nawaz Sharif should be tried for violating Article 6,” he said.

“A person who abets (a dictator) is also a violator of Article 6 and Nawaz Sharif too acted as an abettor when he served as chief minister of Punjab under the patronage of Gen Zia.”

He said Gen Musharraf had established himself as a “real democrat” by obeying the law and surrendering himself before the courts.

The APML leader said Gen Musharraf had passed the test by surrendering voluntarily and now the test of the judiciary had started.