Islamabad - A lawyer representing Pervez Musharraf says the former military ruler is ill and he will not appear today in the special court, hearing high treason case against him.
“We just have to make an oral request in the court that since he (Musharraf) is not well, his presence should be dispensed with,” Ahmed Raza Kasuri, a lawyer representing Musharraf said in a media statement on Sunday.
The three-member court will resume hearing today amid deep confusion as to how the judges and the prosecution would respond to the likely non-appurtenance of the ex-president, who is under treatment after a reported heart stroke.
The ex-dictator spent his fourth day in the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in Rawalpindi on Sunday. The court had asked him to appear in person on January 6 and face treason charges under Article 6 for suspending, subverting and abrogating the constitution, imposing an emergency in the country in Nov 2007 and detaining the judges of the superior courts.
The court had adjourned its proceedings Thursday and ordered Musharraf to appear on Monday, but Kasuri said he hoped the court would now “exempt his personal presence”. “Everyone is aware of his sickness. The whole world knows that he is in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and the court also knows that,” he said.
“The court is not making a special concession to Musharraf. It is according to the law. Human life is over and above justice,” Kasuri said. Doctors treating Musharraf had sent his medical reports to experts in Britain, Kasuri had said on Saturday, to determine his further treatment at home or abroad.
The 70-year-old former military chief was rushed to the hospital on January 2 after apparently developing a heart problem while being taken to the court hearing the treason case in Islamabad. However, his sudden health scare met with scepticism from some observers and feverish media speculation that his departure from Pakistan on medical grounds, possibly to either Saudi Arabia or the UAE, could be imminent.
Some analysts believe such a move is necessary to head off a potentially destabilising clash between the government and the all-powerful military. Musharraf’s wife, Begum Sehba Musharraf, had requested the government to remove his name from the Exit Control List (ECL) as his medics and aides consider shifting him abroad for treatment. But her plea was rejected by the ministry on the ground that it tantamount to contempt of court.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has categorically stated on Saturday that it is a court matter and only court can decide about it. Sources in the PML-N are also rejecting the notions that another NRO-like deal was in the offing and said that the government would follow the court’s ruling.
Siddiqul Farooq, a spokesman for the ruling PML-N told a foreign news agency, “We neither wish to settle scores nor give any undue concession... No foreign pressure will be entertained; let the law take its course.” However, he added, “If the court allows Musharraf to travel abroad for medical reasons then we will not try to stop it.”
Musharraf’s team says the treason allegations, which relate to his imposition of emergency rule in Nov 2007, are politically motivated and his lawyers have challenged the authority of the three-judge tribunal. Aside from the treason allegations, Musharraf also faces trial over the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, the death of a rebel leader, a deadly raid on a radical mosque and the detention of judges.