Islamabad: In a blow to Pakistan’s former dictator General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, the special court hearing the high treason case against him has also authorised the government to suspend his passport as well as his national identity card, according to a media report on Friday.
Last week, the special court had ordered the government to arrest the Dubai-based former president and confiscate all his properties as it heard the high treason case against the “proclaimed offender" for imposing emergency rule in the country in 2007.
Musharraf, 74, was indicted in March, 2014 on treason charges for imposing emergency in 2007 which led to the confinement of a number of superior court judges in their houses and sacking of over 100 judges. The special court had earlier directed the interior ministry to approach the Interpol for the arrest of Musharraf.
If Musharraf fails to submit a written request for security to the Ministry of Interior, the government can take “positive steps" to ensure the arrest of the accused and attach his properties abroad, including suspension of the National Identity Card (CNIC) and passport of the accused, The Express Tribune quoted a four-page order of the special court.
If the federal government suspends his passport and CNIC, Musharraf will not be able to travel to any country. The three-member bench, headed by Peshawar high court chief justice Yahya Afridi had conducted the last hearing in the case on 8 March. However, the written order was issued later, the report said.
Since 2013, the special court is hearing the treason case against Musharraf, also head of the All Pakistan Muslim League, for subverting the constitution in 2007. The next hearing of the case has been fixed for 21 March, it said.
A conviction for high treason carries the death penalty or life imprisonment. The order says that Akhtar Shah, the counsel for Musharraf, stated that his client intends to appear before the court but he should be provided security by the defence ministry.
Quoting legal experts, the report said the special court’s order to suspend Musharraf’s CNIC and passport is very significant as it will halt his movement abroad.
Advocate Shah told the paper that he had already sent two applications through courier to the ministries of interior and defence for providing foolproof security to Musharraf on his arrival in Pakistan to ensure presence in the court. He, however, stated that they have yet to receive any response from the two ministries.
On the other hand, prosecution head Akram Sheikh said that ministry has yet to receive any application by Musharraf’s counsel. He also urged the interior ministry to start the process for the suspension of Musharraf’s CNIC and passport, adding that the former army chief’s movement will be completely stopped after the suspension of passport.
The special court in its order has expressed dismay at the inaction of the federal government in taking positive steps to ensure the arrest of Musharraf, who has already been declared proclaimed offender.
“The court was informed that the accused is presently residing in United Arab Emirates and that there is an extradition treaty between government of UAE and government of Pakistan which could be invoked to ensure the arrest of the accused and attachment of his properties in the UAE," says the order.
The court also asked the government to make a request to the Interpol for the issuance of an appropriate warrant for his arrest and for his production before the court on 21 March. Musharraf ruled Pakistan from 1999 to 2008. He is wanted in Pakistan in several criminal cases including in the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.