Former strongman unlikely to defend his acts

ISLAMABAD - Former president Pervez Musharraf is weighing his options to fight legal battle ahead but his close aides claim that he or any counsel on his behalf may not appear before the court to defend the actions taken on November 3, 2007 and afterwards. The sources close to the former president told TheNation that Musharraf would neither appear before the court on July 29, the next hearing date, nor send his counsel to defend his November 3 acts. According to a private television channel, the former President has refused to comment on SC decision. Musharraf said he would not comment on this whole scenario immediately. It is worth mentioning here that the apex court while hearing a petition of Sindh High Court Bar Association seeking regularisation of services of two SHC judges on Wednesday issued notice to the former president to defend his actions including imposition of emergency rule and promulgation of Provisional Constitution Order (PCO). This case has a direct link with Tikka Iqbal case, as these judges were denied confirmation of services on its base. The Supreme Court judgement in Tikka Iqbal case had also validated the imposition of emergency and promulgation of PCO on November 3, 2007. Musharraf has consulted senior lawyers, Syed Sharif-ud-Din Pirzada and Justice (Retd) Malik Abdul Qayyum, to draw his future course of action. The sources said that both the legal experts advised him to pursue the case in the apex court and defend himself through his counsel. However, Musharraf is inclined to stay away from the proceedings of the case, said his aides. The defiant mood of the former president became visible on Wednesday night when his personal staff, present at his residence, declined to accept apex courts notice delivered by the court officials. Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif, a close confidant of Musharraf, talking to TheNation said that the issue of appearance of Musharraf or his counsel before the apex court on July 29 would be decided when the Supreme Court notice would be received by the former president. Notice has not been received by Musharraf yet, therefore, it would be before time to say whether or not he or his counsel appears before the apex court, he added. He said that legally Musharraf had not been summoned, rather it was at his disposal to appear before the apex court personally or through his counsel to defend his acts of November 3, 2007. He said that the Parliament should have taken the issue of November 3 PCO instead of the Supreme Court. Now, when a special parliamentary committee on constitutional reforms is working on 17th Amendment, CoD and November 3 PCO, the apex courts decision has further complicated things, Saif observed. Talking to TheNation, former minister for parliamentary affairs, Sher Afgan Khan Niazi, said that the issuance of notice by the Supreme Court to Musharraf was based on personal vendetta and was mala fide. The move is meant to ridicule Musharraf and divert masses attention from the issues of energy crisis, law and order, inflation and unemployment, etc, he stated. He said that the decision had no constitutional value as 270-AAA, 270-B and 270-C were the part of the Constitution and the whole existing civilian set-up had taken oath on it. He said that 2008 general elections had also been conducted under Article 270-B of the Constitution, which was the part of the PCO. He said that the Supreme Court instead of concentrating upon national issues was opening a new Pandoras box. The decision can also cause negative impacts on the ongoing operations Rah-e-Rast and Rah-e-Nijat against militants in Swat and South Waziristan as well as countrys sovereignty. There was no room in Constitution to summon a former president and Chief of the Army Staff, he claimed.

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