JUN 14, 2018: Former president Pervez Musharraf has submitted nomination papers from three constituencies to contest elections on July 25 for a National Assembly seat. However, the former military ruler has decided not to appear before the Supreme Court, a private news channel reported citing sources.
The apex court has made his physical appearance in court to defend himself against treason charges condition precedent for filing nomination papers. The former military ruler’s papers were submitted on Monday for NA-1 (Chitral), NA-188 (Layyah) and NA-247 (Karachi), according to an All Pakistan Muslim League statement.
The apex court yesterday ordered Musharraf to return to Pakistan and appear before it on Thursday by 2:00PM, warning that if the former president does not show up, the court will decide his plea against his 2013 disqualification ‘in accordance with law’. He was earlier ordered to show up in court on Wednesday June 13.
The Supreme Court’s three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar is hearing Musharraf’s appeal against the Peshawar High Court (PHC) order which imposed a lifetime restriction on him from taking part in elections for subverting the Constitution in 2007.
“If Musharraf does not show up in the court by 2pm tomorrow [Thursday], a decision will be taken in absentia on his eligibility to contest elections in accordance with law,” the CJP noted.
“We are giving him one more chance to come back. The scrutiny of Musharraf’s nomination papers for the upcoming general elections will not be allowed if he fails to return to Pakistan and appear before the court,” the top judge added.
The CJP said Musharraf should return to face the law, public and judiciary. He made it clear that Supreme Court did not allow Musharraf to go abroad and the permission in this regard was given by the former government of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
Two days back, the apex court had ordered the National Database Registration Authority (Nadra) to unblock Musharraf’s CNIC and passport which were blocked on the order of a special court holding the military ruler’s high treason trial for promulgating emergency on Nov 3, 2007.
The SC this week had said Musharraf’s CNIC and passport should be unblocked so that he had no excuse for not returning from Dubai, where he had been living for over two years after leaving Pakistan on the pretext of ill health.
On Wednesday, Musharraf’s counsel Malik Qamar Afzal told the court his client was ready to return to Pakistan to face a high treason case but he should be provided guarantee of protection. He said the federal government had created an ‘atmosphere of terror’ by blocking his CNIC and passport.
Afzal contended that there was need to constitute a medical board for his client as “he is suffering from Parkinson’s disease, which is also stopping him from returning to Pakistan”.
The CJP, however, remarked that the court would constitute a medical board if Musharraf returned in an air ambulance. “How will he wave his fist in the election if he suffers from Parkinson’s?” the CJP quipped.
The top judge said the Supreme Court was not bound to work under Musharraf’s conditions.
“The court has already ordered protection for Musharraf if he comes to Pakistan but we are not bound to give any guarantee in black and white,” he said.
Several observers say the former president has been placed in a Catch-22 situation, that is, if he really wants to contest. Some say that may not be true, as in the worst case scenario if he’s disqualified for life and or sentenced, he could still end up running his party APML as Nawaz Sharif is doing with PML-N. “It’s the new normal”, one said.
Meanwhile, the caretaker government headed by former Chief Justice Nasir ul Mulk as Prime Minister, has reconstituted the special court holding high treason trial of the former president. A formal notification for the formation of the special court has been issued by the ministry of law and justice after approval of the cabinet on Wednesday.
The former PML-N led government did not reconstitute the bench despite having ordered to do so by the Supreme Court. On March 30, former head of the special court, Justice Yahya Afridi, had recused himself from hearing the case. After his recusal, it took two and a half months to reconstitute the bench.