ISLAMABAD: Former president Pervez Musharraf’s treason trial has hit another snag, as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has yet to approve the appointment of the new head of the three-judge special court conducting the proceedings.
The special court is dysfunctional for the time being, confirmed the federal law secretary. After the elevation of Justice Faisal Arab to the apex court in November 2015, the special court could not convene due to a legal hitch: the composition of the court is incomplete.
The federal government has yet to give approval for the head of the special court, said Justice (retd) Sardar Raza.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Anwar Zaheer Jamali had notified Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Mazhar Mian Alam Khel as the new head of the special court. The federal law ministry has sent its summary to the Prime Minister’s Office for the final nod.
The special court had indicted Musharraf in 2014 for treason because he had declared a state of emergency in 2007. He had also suspended the country’s Constitution and parliament before sacking top judges, including the chief justice of the Supreme Court.
This development had come shortly before the top court was due to issue a verdict on the legality of his re-election as president.
Musharraf denies all charges against him and instead claims these are politically motivated. The government, however, refutes any personal vendetta against him.
According to Article 6 of the Constitution, he could be sentenced to death or life in prison if he is convicted of treason.
A senior law ministry official told The Express Tribune that the premier had not been apprised by the relevant quarters on the new nominee, due to which it took some time to verify Justice Mazhar’s credentials.
In response to a query, the official said the law ministry could not send a reminder to the PM’s Office, the President’s Office and the Supreme Court.
On December 17, 2015, the government had approached the top judge of the country and sought a candidate among high court chief justices to restore the special court by filling the vacancy.
However, an official at the PM’s Office claimed that Nawaz had taken time only to verify if the new head was capable of pursuing this rare case in the country’s history.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2016.