After five kg of explosives, arms and ammunition were found on the road near his farmhouse at Chak Shahzad on Tuesday,former President General (retd) Pervez Musharraf was exempted from making an appearance on the first day of his trial on charges of high treason in a special court. The court adjourned the case to January 1.

Mr Musharraf’s lawyers pleaded that after the explosives were found near his farmhouse, there was a security threat to his life and he would not be able to appear in court. There were already two attempts on his life and it was the court’s responsibility to take care of his security, they submitted. The court headed by Justice Faisal Arab accepted the gravity of the situation and after a written application was made seeking exemption, the former military dictator was permitted to do so.

Even as the court was to hear the case, the police found explosives, pistols, bullets and detonators apart from some wire and the Bomb Disposal Squad was called in. There was heavy security on the road leading to the National Library building where the special court was set up in the auditorium for the trial.

From the prosecution team, Nasiruddin Khan Nayyar later told the media that on January 1, the charges would be read out to Mr Musharraf and he would have to make an appearance as the exemption was only for today.

However, the court also directed the registrar to ensure that adequate security was provided to Mr Musharraf at the next hearing, according to his lawyers Chaudhry Faisal Hussain and Mohammed Ali Saif.

Mr Musharraf’s defence team has demanded assurance of a foolproof security arrangement from a responsible person from the ministry of interior before he can come to court next week.

His defence lawyers also filed two separate criminal complaints objecting to the manner in which the judges to the special court were appointed and also the special public prosecutor Akram Shaikh on grounds of bias, and violation of the mandatory provisions of law and the Constitution. These will be heard at the next date. The complaints said that a fair and impartial trial could not be expected from the court. It listed out instances where the judges and the prosecutor had shown bias in earlier incidents and demanded the appointment of a fair and independent legal practitioner as prosecutor to ensure a trial free of bias, and to hold the trial in abeyance till a fair court was constituted which was not inimical to Mr Musharraf.

The former military ruler has been charged with issuing an unconstitutional and unlawful order on November, 3, 2007 at Rawalpindi as Chief of the Army Staff, called the “Proclamation of Emergency Order, 2007” which held the Constitution in abeyance. He subverted the Constitution and committed the offence of high treason punishable under section 2 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973. Mr Musharraf has also been charged with issuing the Provisional Constitution Order No.1 of 2007 which empowered the President to amend the Constitution from time to time, apart from suspending Fundamental Rights enshrined in Articles 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 19 and 25 of the Constitution. He is also being charged with amending the Constitution and some of its provisions and subverting it.