The Special Court hearing the treason case against Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf has directed the government to clarify why the former president was allowed to leave the country without its permission.
On Thursday, the visibly displeased judges sought written explanation from the interior secretary regarding the departure of Musharraf to Dubai on March 18.
The former army chief had flown out of the country hours after his name was removed from the no-fly list with the government, citing a ruling by the apex court for the decision.
The three-judge special court resumed the hearing of the high treason case, asking both the defence and complainant counsel why the accused was allowed to travel abroad.
The court headed by Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel observed that prima facie the government had failed to fulfil its responsibility.
On March 8, the court had summoned Musharraf on March 31 (Thursday) for recording his statement under Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Chief prosecutor Akram Sheikh told the court the accused left Pakistan last week but the government expected he would come back and record his statement.
He said the court now had three options: to forfeit the surety, cancel the bail or to issue order for the forced appearance of the accused by issuing a red warrant.
He appealed the court to decide the case at the earliest, requesting the judges not to mix up the Exit Control List controversy with this case. The hearings started in December 2013. The court, however, did not accept the prosecutor’s plea to record Musharraf’s statement through video link or Skype.
Sheikh argued the defence counsel submitted a plea for court exemption of the accused on March 30 while Musharraf had left the country on March 18. He also said the prosecution had completed its case in September 2014. Justice Alam asked Chaudhry Faisal Hussain, one of the defence lawyers, why did he not inform the authorities the Special Court had summoned Musharraf on March 31. Faisal has been actively involved in the case since the beginning and also appeared before the top court. He argued under no law he had the authority to regulate the custody of his client, adding he could only advise him. The lawyer said he performed his duty according to the law and conveyed the order to Musharraf verbally. The defence also submitted an application for his exemption and for adjourning the case. When the court directed Ahmed Raza Kasuri to ensure Musharraf appeared on the next date, the lawyer replied when husband and wife had no problem, what would the judges do? Talking to the media later, Kasuri said in this case Musharraf was the husband and the federation his wife.
He added he would convey the order to Musharraf but he had no authority to direct him except giving advice.
The court also sought comments from Maj Gen (retd) Rashid Qureshi on why the surety bond was not forfeited when the accused did not appear in the court.
Qureshi had submitted a surety bond of Rs2 million for Musharraf’s bail while giving an undertaking that the retired general would appear in the Special Court on each hearing date.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 1st, 2016.
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