The special court trying former President General (retd) Pervez Musharraf for high treason on Friday ordered him to appear before it on February 18. The order was passed after the defence counsel Anwar Mansoor gave an assurance to the court that his client would appear at the next hearing.

On the last date, the court had issued a bailable warrant against Musharraf on a surety of Rs 25 lakh. While the surety was furnished, the former president did not appear in court today and his lawyers filed an application asking for him to be exempted till applications challenging the jurisdiction of the court, the bias of the judges and the constitution of the court were decided. The court said in view of the undertaking by Mr Mansoor it would not opt for issuing a non bailable warrant against the accused.

Mr Mansoor argued that till these applications were decided, it would amount to severe injustice to summon his client. He said a bailable warrant was issued even while questions of jurisdiction and the constitution of the court are yet to be fully heard. He reiterated that only a military court could try this case. Justice Faisal Arab who heads the special court, said it could not stay its own proceedings. However, Mr Mansoor said that the court wants to proceed and read out charges to the accused and it had assumed jurisdiction.

He said there were serious charges and it would malign his client and attach a stigma to him. He said that summoning Musharraf who was former President and former chief of army staff would have a negative impact. His client was not averse to appearing in courts and had done so seven times, including before a magistrate.

Justice Arab said Musharraf's inability to come to court was not established and all he had to do was come and request for the framing of charges to be delayed till the jusrisdiction and other issues were decided. If that is the case, Mr Mansoor said he would make sure Musharraf comes for the next hearing. He also said that his client fully intended to come to court and was on his way on January 2, when the interior minister called and asked him to turn towards Rawalpindi (where the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology is located), Mr Mansoor submitted adding that wireless records would confirm this. Musharraf has been hospital since then and has not appeared in court even once despite summons.

The arguments in the case will continue on February 10.