LAHORE/ISLAMABAD - JAWAD R AWAN, KASWAR KLASRA and TERENCE J SIGAMONY - Sunday was a turbulent day for Musharraf family and the people concerned with Pervez Musharraf’s high reason case. After the chain of certain events, it was once again unclear if the former military ruler would appear to hear his indictment today in a Special Court – which had even issued his arrest warrants.
Just as the sword of indictment in high treason case hung right over the head of Musharraf, he was served with arrest warrants. And earlier, the former general-president had learnt that his mother’s condition was critical at a Dubai hospital.
The bad news made the ex-commando himself land in the intensive care unit of AIFC (Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology), where he has been for quite some time now for his heart-related issues. His close aides and lawyers say that the ex-COAS may not be able to appear before the court today due to deterioration of his condition after hearing that her mother was fighting for life at the Sharjah hospital ICU.
Aasia Ishaq, central spokesperson for Musharraf’s faction of Muslim League and his close aide, told The Nation that doctors reports on his health condition matters the most regarding the physical movement of the former president. Rana Ijaz advocate, a member of Musharraf’s legal team, confirmed shifting of his client to the ICU due to high blood pressure and mental stress because of the news about her mother.
Close circles of former strongman claimed that Musharraf was not in good health when he met with his legal team, led by Sharifuddin Pirzada, at AFIC. He seemed uneasy, quite possibly due to the rising blood pressure. They said they don’t see any chance of Musharraf’s physical movement until his condition improves. They maintained that his counsels would most likely present medical certificate showing his inability to appear in the court.
However, Faisal Chaudhary, another member of Musharraf’s legal team, when contacted said, “A decision (to appear) that is to be made tomorrow, cannot be made today.” An unconfirmed media report claimed that legal team of Musharraf has decided to boycott the proceedings of the court. Some sources told The Nation that defence counsels would try to convince police that non-bailable arrest warrant could not be executed because Musharraf is patient and hospitalised.
“Musharraf’s mother has been admitted to ICU of a hospital in Dubai. A detailed statement would be issued regarding her condition soon,” said Zahaib Nabeel, an office bearer of APML Dubai chapter, when contacted.
Later in the day, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Police passed on the arrest warrant to Pervez Musharraf. The administration of AFIC received the warrants with the promise to hand it over to the ailing general. A senior ICT Police officer told The Nation, “Pervez Musharraf received the arrest warrant on Sunday. He will be produced by the Special court on Monday at any cost.”
Pervez Musharraf had appeared on February 18 but the court did not frame charges as Anwar Mansoor and Khalid Ranjha wanted the decision on court’s jurisdiction and judges bias first, which the court announced last week. The court during last hearing directed ICT Police chief to produce the ex-president at any cost on March 31. An ICT Police spokesperson told The Nation that a team, led by SP Mustansar Feroze, would arrest Musharraf if he refused to appear. “Police team has been assured cooperation by AFIC administration.”
Escorting Musharraf to the special court is a daunting task in itself for the police, which in the past have failed to ensure complete security to the federal capital that is also home to country’s ruling elite and a good number of foreigners. Banned militant organisations have targeted Pervez Musharraf a number of times in the past. His lawyers have expressed fears the retired general could be attacked again.
The ICT police however claimed on Sunday of making goof-proof security arrangements for Musharraf’s court appearance. “As many as 2,500 policemen have been deployed on the rout of his convoy. A large number of police commandoes would guard the (court) building,” the police spokesperson said.
If Musharraf’s condition stabilises then his bringing to the court would show if law enforcement agencies are capable of upholding the law and the federal government was serious in Musharraf’s indictment. During the March 14 hearing, prosecutor Akram Sheikh had said that Musharraf could not be produced because he is not in the custody of police and he prayed to the court to give his custody to the police.
There are reports that Musharraf’s party workers would gather outside AIFC to resist police’s taking him into custody. Sardar Ishaq, a senior criminal lawyer, said if someone creates hurdle in performance of police duty then one could be arrested and punished under sections 186 and 353 Pakistan Penal Code. Sardar Ishaq, however believes that the Army would not create any hurdle in the arrest of Musharraf because his credibility has already been badly damaged. He said if his party workers tried to block the road then the police should arrest them so the law takes its course.
Sardar Muhammad Aslam, former chief justice of Islamabad High Court, told The Nation there was no law that prevents execution of non-bailable warrants to a patient admitted to a hospital. He said if an accused has no serious ailment and his condition is stable, he or she could be arrested.