ISLAMABAD - Former president Pervez Musharraf proclaimed another emergency, this time a medical one, while he was on the way to appear before the Special Court for his treason trial on Thursday.
In view of his sudden sickness, the court decided not to issue arrest warrants, besides granting the ex-strongman exemption from appearance for now. The hearing was adjourned until January 6.
Reportedly the former military dictator complained of pain in the chest while he was being taken to the court for hearing of treason case and his convoy was redirected to Rawalpindi’s Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC). Hospital sources said Musharraf was stable but undergoing different tests.
Musharraf is being tried for imposing a state of emergency in the country in 2007 while also suspending the Constitution.
A 7-member board of senior army cardiologists headed by Surgeon General Imran Majid examined Musharraf and later admitted him in a VVIP Cardiology Ward on the third floor of AFIC. The sources said that the former president might have to undergo angiography and the doctors would decide if he would be treated in the country or abroad.
The ‘Commando’, who used to say ‘I am not afraid of anyone’, is the third army general who has apparently taken refuge in the AFIC in the recent past to avoid appearance in the court.
When the Supreme Court in November last issued notice to Defence Secretary Lt-Gen (r) Yasin Malik regarding framing of charges in contempt matter for not fulfilling his commitments to hold local bodies elections in the cantonments, he too was admitted in the AFIC.
Similarly, Balochistan Frontier Constabulary (FC) Inspector General Ijaz Shahid got admitted in AFIC due to ‘heart problem’ when contempt notice was issued to him for his non-appearance before the court in missing persons’ case despite repeated summoning.
Since the start of the hearing, the court waited for Musharraf’s appearance in pursuance of its order, and twice it had to adjourn the proceeding for the purpose. At around 12:15am, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Security Jan Muhammad informed the court that the former COAS was on his way to the court but “due to cardiac arrest, his convoy had been redirected” to the AFIC.
Akram Sheikh, lead prosecutor, on the statement of the DIG demanded the court issue non-bailable arrest warrant of Pervez Musharraf, as despite the clear orders he had not appeared, adding if there is genuine ground of his sickness then it should be treated in accordance with law. Mr Sheikh said that Islamabad Police Inspector General (IG) told him that he had been waiting for Musharraf outside his farm since 8 o’clock.
Khalid Ranjha, a counsel for Musharraf, pleaded they also wanted the implementation of court order in the sensu stricto (strict sense), and repeated that his client has great respect of the judiciary and honours its orders but due to heart attack he could not appear before the court.
Earlier, during the proceeding when the court inquired from defence counsel Sharifuddin Pirzada whether his client was coming to the court today. He replied: “Probably yes, but (he) would leave the house with (some) delay.”
Like yesterday (Wednesday) the court environment remained tense as the counsels of both the sides exchanged harsh remarks with each other. At one stage the Musharraf counsels, except Pirzada, boycotted the proceeding and went out of the courtroom.
After ending the boycott, Anwar Mansoor told the court that he could not proceed when the situation is so tense. He said: “Calling of the ex-president (in the court) is not in the best in the interest of the country.” The court reminded him that defence lead counsel Mr Pirzada had stated that the accused would appear before the court today.
Justice Arab asked Anwar Mansoor if he was not in the good frame of mind then the first the requirement of the case be fulfilled and they would hear him on his application later on. The honourable judge also reminded him that he had completed the arguments and now he only has to provide the citations.
The court also asked the defence counsel that his client has to appear before the court, adding; “We will ensure that proper security arrangements are made for his safe journey from his farm to this court.” Anwar argued it was not a simple case, but the case of life and death of a former president. The court again told him that defendant has to come today (Thursday) and again adjourned the hearing until 11: 30. The court however said they are not in hurry but they also did not want the case to linger on.
After the interval, Akram Sheikh complained that prosecutors were not given time to speak and the court should not have maintained the defence applications without hearing them. The court however assured defence counsels that the evidences would be recorded after the order on their applications, through which they have challenged court jurisdiction, its constitution and judges’ appointment, the appointment of lead Prosecutor Akram Sheikh, and for trying Musharraf under Army Act 1956.
At the outset of the hearing, Anwar Mansoor said: “I am totally under threat and embarrassment as last night from 1pm to 5pm somebody kept on banging the door and ringing the door bell of my flat (in Islamabad)... I could not sleep whole night and therefore (I am) not in a frame of mind to proceed.” He asked the court to adjourn the hearing until Monday. The court said they would provide him security, but Anwar refused the offer saying; “I don’t want the security from this government.”
Pirzada informed the court that today (Thursday) Akram Sheikh had passed on threats to him through his colleague Ibrahim Satti. Satti said that before the hearing, Sheikh took him in the corner and said Pirzada was leading the Musharraf counsels so he would be his main target. “I will create 18 monsters to laugh at Sharifuddin Pirzada,” Satti quoted Sheikh as saying.
Sheikh accepted that he talked to Satti but said he had been threatened by the defence counsel and to maintain the cordial atmosphere he asked Satti that he should not be targeted. “Yesterday, they (defence counsels) even pushed me... I have been targeted by 18 defence counsels on behest of Pirzada,” he added. Justice Faisal Arab remarked such things happen in schools and colleges and asked them to be cool in the court. He said they would write in their order that both sides will not interact with each other directly in the court.