ISLAMABAD - A three-judge Special Court, comprising Justice Faisal Arab of the Sindh High Court, Justice Mohammad Yawar Ali Khan of the Lahore High Court and Justice Tahira Safdar of the Balochistan High Court, will resume former president Pervez Musharraf’s treason trial amid tight security in the auditorium of National Library, Islamabad today (Wednesday).
The high treason charges have to be framed against Musharraf in his presence, but after the recovery of five packets of explosives on Monday from outside his farm in Chak Shahzad where he has been detained since in arrival in Pakistan, the ex-COAS is unlikely to appear before the special court.
In the last hearing, Musharraf didn’t appear and his lawyers informed the court that he had threats to his life. Musharraf, in an interview with BBC, feared he had serious threats from Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Fazalullah, Lal Masjid activists, al-Qaeda and Baloch Liberation Army.
Sources told The Nation that in case the federal government failed to produce Musharraf, the prosecutors’ team would request the court to issue arrest warrants for the former military dictator, but his counsels would urge the court to first decide their applications submitted during the last hearing.
Naseerud Din Nayyar, leading prosecutor, contended last time, “This is a criminal trial and the offence is non-bailable as described in the Schedule II of the Criminal Procedure Code, so one-time exemption (only for December 24) can be granted for security reasons.”
Anwar Mansoor had filed two applications, challenging jurisdiction of the special court, composition of the bench and nomination of the Special Court judges. Justice Faisal Arab who is heading the bench had stated in the last hearing that the applications would be heard on next hearing.
The federation has sought Musharraf’s trial and punishment as envisaged in Article 6 of the Constitution and has prayed if the former dictator is found guilty of the charges mentioned in the complaint, he be awarded punishment under Section 2(2) of High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973, which says; “A person who is found guilty of high treason, as defined in Article 6 of Constitution, shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life.”
At least five acts of high treason against Pervez Musharraf have been mentioned in the complaint. On November 3, 2007, in his capacity as chief of army staff (COAS), he issued a proclamation in his own name to hold the Constitution in abeyance.
Secondly, Musharraf, in his capacity as commander-in-chief of Pakistan Army, adopted unconstitutional means and abrogated, subverted/suspended/held in abeyance the Constitution by issuing the proclamation. Thus he committed the offence of high treason as defined in Article 6 of the Constitution.
Thirdly, Musharraf, as self-appointed COAS vide notification September 2, 2007-Min-I on Nov 3, 2007, also issued Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) No 1 of 2007. By issuing PCO No.1 of 2007, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part VII, Part XI and Part XII of the Constitution were abrogated, subverted and suspended. Musharraf, by issuing Oath of Office (Judges) Order 2007, grossly abrogated and subverted Part I, Part II and Part VII of the Constitution. Through issuing Oath of Office of (Judges), Musharraf also committed the third act of high treason.
Fourthly, Provisional Constitution (Amendment) Order 2007, issued by the former military dictator, also spoiled the spirit of various provisions of the Constitution, including Part I and Part XI.
Fifthly, Musharraf, who occupied the office of the president in June 2001 by issuing Constitution (Second Amendment) Order, 2007, further amended articles 41, 44, 193, 194, 208 and 270-C of the Constitution, which removed from articles 44 and 63 the constitutional bars to his third-term election in uniform during the pendency of his case in the Supreme Court. He committed this fifth act of high treason in furtherance of his self-serving objectives.