Investigators from the Federal Investigation Agency probing the Benazir Bhutto assassination case have formally arrested former president Pervez Musharraf for interrogation after obtaining permission from a trial court on Thursday.
The FIA investigation team, headed by Additional Director Khalid Rasool, arrested Musharraf at his Chak Shahzad farmhouse, where he was being kept in judicial remand in the judges’ detention case after it was declared a sub-jail.
“Pervez Musharraf was formally taken into custody by the FIA after being read his detention orders,” an FIA official told The Express Tribune. The investigation team has also recorded the former president’s initial statement following his arrest. Musharraf has denied all charges levelled against him in the Benazir murder case, they added.
Earlier on Thursday, Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) Rawalpindi Number 1 Special Judge Chaudhry Habibur Rehman permitted FIA investigators to include Musharraf in the Benazir murder probe. Accepting the plea filed by FIA Special Public Prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali, Additional Director Khalid Rasool and Inspector Tariq seeking Musharraf’s arrest, the judge allowed the agency to formally arrest the former president ‘if deemed necessary’. The ATC also directed FIA to complete its investigation and submit a complete challan of the case on May 3, 2013, the next date of hearing.
Speaking to reporters following the hearing, FIA prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali said FIA made the request to include Musharraf in the probe after the cancellation of his interim bail.
“The investigators have solid evidence about Mushararf aiding and abetting the incident. Pervez Musharraf will be produced before the ATC on April 26 and FIA will pray to the court for his physical remand,” he maintained.
Musharraf hires new six-member legal team
Pervez Musharraf has changed the team of lawyers representing him in the proceeding of the Benazir Bhutto assassination case.
The new six-member legal team is headed by senior lawyer Salman Safdar and comprises Syed Munawwar Abid, Barrister Dr Muhammad Ali Saif, Ghufran Khursheed Imtiazi, Barrister SJ Durrani and Afshan Adil Advocate.
Doctrine of necessity still valid: Musharraf’s lawyer
Pervez Musharraf’s lawyer on Thursday argued before the Supreme Court that the ‘doctrine of necessity’ was still valid and had not been quashed by judgments of the superior courts.
Representing Musharraf before the three-judge bench hearing identical petitions for the initiation of treason proceedings against the former president, Advocate Raja Muhammad Ibrahim Satti maintained that the July 31, 2009 judgment of the 14-judge SC bench against the 2007 emergency proclamation did not touch upon the doctrine, which had been upheld by the court in earlier cases.
“In the judgment, the bench while declaring the November 3, 2007 steps as unconstitutional held that they were taken by Pervez Musharraf for personal benefits. The bench did not discuss the doctrine of necessity, an idea that helped the SC validate earlier constitutional deviations,” contended Satti.
In response to Satti’s arguments, however, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain questioned whether he was implying the SC had left a window open for ‘adventurers’ in its 2009 judgment. He observed that the court, in the aforementioned judgment, ruled that even the Parliament could not validate unconstitutional acts and no superior court judge could take oath under any provisional constitutional order.
Meanwhile, carrying on with his arguments, Satti maintained that Musharraf had not been heard by the court before it gave the 2009 judgment and added that the then attorney general did not defend the 2007 emergency either under the federal government’s instructions.
Upon this, the bench asked incumbent Attorney General Irfan Qadir as to what his stance on the 2007 emergency was.
Qadir replied that although he been questioned without being given time to prepare a response, he considered the 2007 emergency as unnecessary when viewed against the backdrop of the SC judgment which validated the October 1999 martial law based on the doctrine of necessity. The attorney general, however, maintained he did not have any clear instructions from the federal government on the subject.
Musharraf’s counsel, meanwhile, requested the bench to refrain from making any remarks against him that could adversely influence any subsequent treason proceedings.
The bench put off the hearing till April 29.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2013.