Pakistan court refuses to hear ‘absconding’ Pervez Musharraf’s lawyer

Pakistan: A Pakistani court hearing treason case against former dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf on Friday stopped his counsel from presenting his arguments on the grounds that he cannot be allowed to argue for an “absconder”.

Musharraf, 73, flew to Dubai on March 18, 2016, for medical treatment shortly after his name was removed from the exit control list (ECL) on the Supreme Court’s directives. The counsel for the ex-army chief, who is facing multiple charges including treason and involvement in the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, had said his client needed urgent medical treatment which was unavailable in Pakistan, Express Tribune reported.

A three-judge bench of the special tribunal led by Justice Yahya Afridi refused to hear statements of Musharraf counsel’s arguments, reminding him that the former president had been declared an “absconder” in the case, the report said.

The bench also rejected the Interior Ministry’s report on Musharraf and his family’s assets as it was based on an assessment conducted in 2008.

The Ministry was asked to submit a report based on the fresh status of the properties. Barrister Farogh Nasim and Chaudhry Faisal Hussain appeared in the court on behalf of the former president’s wife, Begum Sehba Musharraf. Shah also moved an application requesting the court to direct the authorities to provide foolproof security to his client so that he could appear before the court.

The court then asked the head of the prosecution team, Akram Sheikh, to file a reply over Musharraf’s plea. The case was adjourned till May 19. The former president had committed to return to Pakistan to face all cases after “six to eight weeks” following medical treatment. His name was put on the ECL after he returned to Pakistan in 2013, hoping to lead his party into the general elections.

Musharraf was the army chief when he seized power in a coup in 1999. He was the president till 2008 when a democratically elected government came into power and ousted him. He left the country to live in self-imposed exile in Dubai and London.