Taunting former military ruler Pervez Musharraf that how can a commando be so afraid to return to his country, the Pakistan Supreme Court gave him a deadline until Thursday afternoon to present himself in court in the lifetime disqualification case against him.
A three-judge bench, hearing Musharraf’s appeal against his 2013 disqualification by the Peshawar High Court, has warned that a decision would be taken in the case according to law if the former president does not show up in court by 2 pm tomorrow. The bench was headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar.
74-year-old Musharraf was allowed by the apex court to file nomination papers to contest the July 25 general elections on the condition that he would appear in person before the court today in Lahore to attend the hearing in the case.
However, the former dictator did not appear in court today despite SC orders that his national identity card (CNIC) and passport were unblocked in order to facilitate his travel. Moreover, Musharraf’s nomination papers for Chitral’s NA-1 seat were submitted earlier this week.
Justice Nisar expressed strong displeasure when Musharraf did not turn up and said, “The Supreme Court is not bound to Musharraf’s terms.” Musharraf had told the court through a lawyer that he needed guarantees for security.
“We’ve already said that if Musharraf returns, he will be provided with security. We are not bound to provide a written guarantee.” “If Pervez Musharraf is a commando, he should show us by returning, instead of continuously parroting that he will return like a politician,” he said. “Why does Musharraf need protection, what is he so afraid of?” he said. “How can a commando be so afraid? Musharraf would say that he has evaded death many times but he was never afraid,” he said.
When’s Musharraf’s lawyer Qamar Afzal informed the court that the former dictator is unwell, the chief justice said, “Come in an ambulance. He should at least come. Had he been a commando, he would have showed valour and come to the court.”
Taking a jibe at the former military ruler, the chief justice said that Musharraf who did not feel afraid when he was taking over the country in 1999, is now afraid of facing the courts.
Musharraf, the tenth Pakistan president and the former Pakistan Army chief, began his military service in 1964 as a commando of the Northern Light Infantry. He also participated in the 1971 war as a company commander in a commando battalion, a PTI report said.
When the lawyer said that Musharraf was suffering from Parkinson’s disease, the chief justice said, “How will he show off his fist in the election if he has Parkinson’s?” “He needs to come back otherwise we won’t allow the vetting of his nomination papers,” he warned. “Musharraf should face the Constitution, the law, the nation and the courts,” he asserted.
The chief justice said Musharraf should return to the country and face the cases against him, which included a high treason case for suspending the Constitution and imposing emergency in 2007. In 2013, Musharraf was declared ineligible to contest elections for life by the Peshawar High Court (PHC) in view of the 2009 judgement in which 2007 emergency was declared illegal.
In his appeal, Musharraf had pleaded before the Supreme Court to set aside the high court order, stating that in it he was condemned unheard without due process of law. Musharraf, who ruled Pakistan from 1999 to 2008, has been declared a fugitive in the Benazir Bhutto murder case and Red Mosque cleric killing case. He has sought adequate security from the government for his return from the UAE.
-With inputs from PTI