Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Thursday barred former military ruler Pervez Musharraf from contesting elections after he failed to appear before it. Musharraf, who was earlier granted a conditional permission to contest the July 25 general elections, had filed his nomination from the northern district of Chitral after the court last week. The permission was on condition that he appears before the court on June 13 in a case linked to his lifelong disqualification by the Peshawar High Court in 2013.
Chief Justice Saqib Nisar had Wednesday rebuked the former army chief for “cowardice”, taunting him for not appearing in court and had told him to appear by 2 pm on Thursday. Nisar had said how can a commando be so afraid to return to his country.
During the hearing, his counsel Qamar Afzal informed the court that Musharraf, 74, was determined to return but it was not possible for him to come immediately. “I have spoken to Musharraf, he asks for more time. He plans to come to Pakistan but due to Eid holidays and illness, he can’t travel immediately,” Afzal said.
It prompted the chief justice to adjourn the hearing for an indefinite period, saying the next hearing will be held when the petitioner was ready for it. “Alright, we’ll adjourn the court hearing till indefinite time period, will hold it on your wish,” the judge observed.
But he ordered to withdraw the conditional permission for Musharraf to contest elections.
Earlier on Thursday, Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) said on Twitter that “preparations for his return were in the final stage”. It was not clear why the plan was changed within hours after it was announced.
Musharraf has been living in Dubai since March 2016, and is wanted in several cases. He is facing a high-profile treason case and has been declared an absconder due to his persistent failure to appear before the special trial court set up to try him.
The former president was indicted in March 2014 on treason charges for imposing an emergency in the country which led to the confinement of a number of superior court judges in their houses and sacking of over 100 other judges. A conviction for high-profile treason carries the death penalty or life imprisonment.
Musharraf has sought adequate security from the government for his return to appear in court in the treason case.
(With PTI inputs)