Musharraf seeks security as he plans return to Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Jan 13: Former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf has expressed intent to return to Pakistan after requesting an anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Friday to direct concerned authorities to provide foolproof security for his appearance in court in the judges’ detention case.

Accepting Musharraf’s application, ATC-II judge Sohail Ikram ordered the Inspector General of Police and the interior ministry secretary to make security arrangements for the former president to ensure his presence in court on the next hearing set for February 9.

On December 8, 2016, the ATC had directed police to initiate proclamation proceedings against Musharraf in the judges’ detention case over his continuous non-appearance before the court. Non-bailable arrest warrants have already been issued for Musharraf in the case and failure in making an appearance might lead to him being declared a proclaimed offender.

The details of Musharraf’s possible return surfaced when his counsel, Akhtar Shah, submitted an application seeking security for his appearance before the ATC. The application also sought exemption from personal appearance till security arrangements are made.

In the application, Shah said that without prejudice to other remedies and relief available to the petitioner under the law, he intends to appear before the court if the authorities provide adequate security.

Expressing concerns over the current security situation in the country, Shah stated that serious security threats have increased. Referring to a terrorist attack at the district court of Islamabad in March 2014 and another terrorist attack in August 2016 in Quetta, he stated “security conditions in the courts and otherwise have not yet improved.”

Shah said that under the prevailing circumstances and due to security and medical reasons, “it is neither safe nor advisable for General (retd) Pervez Musharraf to appear in person” in court. He added that Musharraf is under constant watch and he has been “advised to not travel till his health improves.”

In March 2016, Musharraf’s name was removed from Exit Control List after almost three years of being banned from international travel. He is facing a number of cases, including Abdul Rasheed Ghazi murder case, Benazir Bhutto murder case and a high treason case.

On December 8, the court had granted 30-days to the former president to surrender when his counsel had informed the court that his client was ready to appear before court.

The Special Public Prosecutor Aamir Nadeem Tabish had previously informed the court that the Ministry of Interior had submitted in 2013 that security would be provided to Musharraf if he was ready to appear before the court. However, he added that Musharraf submits a new application at almost every hearing and he has not been appearing before the court for one reason or another.

Being a fugitive of law, Tabish had maintained that Musharraf could neither seek any relief nor any lawyer could represent him unless the accused surrenders before the court. Subsequently, the court had ruled that the counsel cannot seek relief for Gen Musharraf unless the latter put up presence before the court.

The judges’ detention case was registered by the Secretariat Police Station on Aug 11, 2009, seeking legal proceedings against the former military ruler for confining 60 judges of the superior courts for over five months at their homes and restraining them from administering justice. The judges, including former chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, were detained after proclamation of a state of emergency in the country.

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