Pak court issues conditional arrest warrant against Musharraf

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Photo: AP
Photo: AP

Islamabad, Mar 14 (PTI): A conditional non-bailable arrest warrant was today issued against embattled former Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf after he failed to turn up before the special court hearing the high treason case against him.

“Non-bailable arrest warrant has been issued which will be implemented on March 31 in case he fails to appear before the court,” Abdul Ghani Soomro, Registrar of the special court announced.

The defence said they will challenge the order once they get a copy of it.

“We will challenge the order once we get the order,” Faisal Chaudhry, a lawyer for 70-year-old Musharraf told the media outside the special court.

The court was adjourned till March 20.

The special court had earlier in the day reserved its judgement till afternoon.

The defence had claimed that Musharraf cannot appear due to security concerns.

A three-member bench, headed by Justice Faisal Arab of the Sindh High Court, had summoned Musharraf today for him to be indicted.

Musharraf’s counsel, Anwar Mansoor, submitted an application in the court requesting for his exemption.

He said the background checks need to be conducted on the security personnel deployed for Musharraf’s security and this would take at least 6 weeks.

The judge noted that in case he does not appear, charges will be read out to the lawyer.

But another Musharraf lawyer Ahmed Raza Kasuri countered it saying that an accused cannot be indicted in absentia.

“It would be very difficult to present Musharraf before the court due to security concerns. The security alert says that he could be targeted like slain Punjab Governor Salman Taseer by his own bodyguards. So as per protocol each of the 1,600 security personnel have to be screened and it will take few weeks,” Kasuri told reporters.

He also claimed that the government and the army were not on the same page on the issue of Musharraf’s trial. Kasuri accused Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of vendetta politics.

Prosecutor Akram Sheikh had argued that Musharraf should be taken into custody so that the government could be responsible for his security.

This is the first time in Pakistan’s history that a former military ruler is facing trial.

He said that Rs 20 crore has been spent on Musharraf’s security till now.

Meanwhile, a team of the federal police reached the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology to take the former president to court.

With authorities promising fool-proof security, Justice Arab had yesterday said the order to produce the former president in court on March 14 remained intact.

Musharraf had on Tuesday failed to turn up for his indictment in the court citing security reasons and was summoned today.

The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) briefed the special court judges on the security alert issued relating to Musharraf.

The ISI representatives told the judges that the latest alert was issued after a call had been traced in relation to a possible attack being planned against Musharraf.

The men who briefed the judges after the hearing was adjourned yesterday said the threat to Musharraf’s life was real.

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