A trial court on Monday granted bail to former President Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf in the murder case of fiery cleric Ghazi Abdul Rasheed and his mother during the Lal Masjid operation in 2007.
Additional District and Sessions Judge Wajid Ali accepted the bail application of Musharraf against surety bonds worth Rs0.1 million in connection with the Lal Masjid case.
Musharraf was arrested on October 10 after Aabpara police had registered a first information report (FIR) against him on the direction of the Islamabad High Court (IHC). The police had already declared him innocent after Musharraf’s name was placed in section 2 of the FIR due to lack of strong evidence against him.
The ruling means the former military ruler is now on bail in all cases brought against him since his return to Pakistan from self-imposed exile. Musharraf had earlier obtained bail in the Benazir Bhutto murder case, the Akbar Bugti murder case and the judges’ detention case.
Advocate Wajiullah Khan, counsel for the complainant, accused the police of destroying all evidence against Musharraf after declaring him innocent.
Khan claimed that the post-mortem report of those who died in the Lal Masjid operation was left out of the investigation report out of mala fide intention of the prosecution. “The accused is not entitled for bail as police is still needs further investigation’ he unsuccessfully argued before the court.
However, counsel for the defense, Advocate Ilyas Siddiqui, requested the court to accept the bail application. Siddiqui reminded the court that as per judicial policy the courts were bound to give bail in five days and his client was on judicial remand for two weeks.
Out of 19 listed witnesses, only five have recorded their statements against Musharraf. However, key witnesses, including former prime minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, former religious minister Ejazul Haq, former interior minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, and information minister Tariq Azeem did not record their statements.
On October 30, court had reserved its judgment after counsel from both the side had concluded their arguments. However, the court had deferred the matter till November 4 after the complainant sought more time to submit further evidence in this case. The main trial case is still pending and is expected to begin on November 11.
APML welcomes decision
Musharraf’s political party, the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML), welcomed the decision. In a statement issued by Chaudhry Sarfraz Anjum Kahloon, political adviser to the former president, he said that the court’s decision to grant bail merely ratified “what had already been decided in the hearts and minds of the people of Pakistan; which is that there is no legal merit in any of the politically motivated cases leveled against Musharraf.”
The statement said that the verdict “was a blow to extremists who wished to create a legal precedent which would permanently damage the ability of the government to defend the writ of the state.”
According to the statement, there was no deal concerning the granting of bail and Musharraf has no plans to leave the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 5th, 2013.