Trying former army chief Pervez Musharraf for treason will open up a Pandora’s box, revealing ‘big names’ and previously undisclosed events, warned Ahmad Raza Kasuri, Musharraf’s counsel before the Supreme Court.
“If the case about the imposition of emergency in 2007 is heard against Musharraf he will also make some revelations; the names of different judges and generals will come under discussion,” said Kasuri, while seeking time to submit a response from the two-member bench.
“Let the [Pandora’s] box open then and the names of whosoever you want come under discussion in the courtroom. The case will be decided in accordance with the Constitution and law,” responded Justice Jawad S Khawaja, who is heading the bench which is hearing five identical petitions seeking a trial of the former president on charges of treason.
Kasuri asked for the hearing to be adjourned until May 20, as Musharraf wants to concentrate on the upcoming elections. The lawyer also asked why ‘unholy haste’ was being shown by the court in the case.
“The matter has been pending since 2009, after the November 2007 emergency was declared unconstitutional and the matter was pending due to Musharraf’s absence,” replied Justice Khawaja as the bench refused to adjourn the case.
“The court has neither ordered the arrest of Musharraf nor has his personal attendance been requested. He may partake in election activities,” continued Justice Khawaja, before putting off the hearing until April 15. Justice Khawaja did not entertain arguments that efforts were being made to stop Musharraf from contesting elections.
The bench, also comprising Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, said in its order that the cases were very simple in nature. However, Kasuri argued that there were questions of a ‘very sensitive’ nature involved in the case.
The atmosphere in the overcrowded courtroom grew charged when the petitioners reacted to Kasuri’s argument that these petitions only came up after Musharraf stepped down. He contended that no one dared to challenge the former president when he was at the helm of affairs.
“There is no senior or junior before the court and Kasuri should keep his arguments in accordance with the Constitution and law,” said one of the petitioners, advocate Taufiq Asif, who is the president of the Rawalpindi chapter of Lahore High Court Bar Association.
No one appeared to represent the federation, and a section officer of the interior ministry informed the bench that Musharraf’s name has been placed on the Exit Control List, meaning he is not allowed to leave the country.
The bench directed Kasuri to acquire copies of the five petitions and submit a detailed response to the court within six days of the next hearing.
Speaking to the media outside the SC after the hearing, Kasuri said the case would reveal the names of others involved in the imposition of emergency, adding that it was only declared after consultation with the four provincial governors, the armed forces’ chiefs and corps commanders.
At the time of the 2007 emergency declaration, General (retd) Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed was the chief of air staff, while Admiral (retd) Afzal Tahir was the Pakistan Navy chief. Dr Ishratul Ebad was governor Sindh, while Owais Ahmed Ghani, Lt Gen (retd) Ali Jan Orakzai and Khalid Maqbool were the governors of Balochistan, K-P (then NWFP) and Punjab, respectively.
“Musharraf is a man of international importance as even Interpol had refused to arrest him after his warrants were issued by an anti-terrorism court, it will not be easy to prosecute him for treason,” said Kasuri.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 10th, 2013.