LAHORE: The apex court on Wednesday ordered former military ruler Pervez Musharraf to return to Pakistan and appear before it by today (Thursday), warning that if Musharraf does not show up, the court will decide his plea against his 2013 disqualification ‘in accordance with law’.
The Supreme Court’s three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar was hearing Musharraf’s appeal against the Peshawar High Court (PHC) order which imposed a lifetime restriction on him from taking part in election for subverting the Constitution in 2007.
“If Musharraf does not show up in the court by 2pm tomorrow [Thursday], a decision will be taken in absentia on his eligibility to contest elections in accordance with law,” the CJP noted.
Two days back, the apex court had ordered the National Database Registration Authority (Nadra) to unblock Musharraf’s CNIC and passport which were blocked on the order of a special court holding the military ruler’s high treason trial for promulgating emergency on Nov 3, 2007.
The SC had noted that Musharraf’s CNIC and passport should be unblocked so that he had no excuse for not returning from Dubai, where he had been living for over two years after leaving Pakistan on the pretext of ill health.
On Wednesday, Musharraf’s counsel Malik Qamar Afzal told the court his client was ready to return to Pakistan to face a high treason case but he should be provided guarantee of protection. He said the federal government had created an ‘atmosphere of terror’ by blocking his CNIC and passport.
Afzal contended that there was need to constitute a medical board for his client as “he is suffering from Parkinson’s disease, which is also stopping him from returning to Pakistan”.
The CJP, however, remarked that the court would constitute a medical board if Musharraf returned in an air ambulance. “How will he wave his fist in the election if he suffers from Parkinson’s?” the CJP quipped.
The top judge said the Supreme Court was not bound to work under Musharraf’s conditions.
“The court has already ordered protection for Musharraf if he comes to Pakistan but we are not bound to give any guarantee in black and white,” he said.
“How come such a fabulous commander is fearful? Did he not feel a shred of fear while he was talking over the country? If Musharraf is a commando he should come back and stop making statements of his return like politicians,” he remarked.
The CJP said Musharraf should return to face the law, public and judiciary. He made it clear that Supreme Court did not allow Musharraf to go abroad and the permission in this regard was given by the former government of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
“We are giving him one more chance to come back. The scrutiny of Musharraf’s nomination papers for the upcoming general elections will not be allowed if he fails to return to Pakistan and appear before the court,” he added.
Channel claims Musharraf not returning
Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has decided not to appear before the apex court, a private news channel reported citing sources. However, the report could not be confirmed from other sources.
Special court reconstituted
Meanwhile, the caretaker government has reconstituted the special court holding high treason trial of the former president. A formal notification for the formation of the special court has been issued by the ministry of law and justice after approval of the cabinet on Wednesday.
According to the notification, the Lahore High Court Chief Justice Yawar Ali will head the special court while Justice Nazar Akbar and Justice Tahira Safdar will be its members.
On March 30, former head of the special court, Justice Yahya Afridi, had recused himself from hearing the case. After his recusal, it took two and a half months to reconstitute the bench.