The special court trying former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf has on Thursday constituted a medical board of senior doctors from the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC), Rawalpindi, which will have to submit a report on January 24 on his health condition.

Gen. Musharraf did not appear once again in response to summons and the court in its order said the medical board would give its opinion on how precarious Gen. Musharraf’s health condition was which restricts his movements and prevents him from attending court. The court also asked the board to state how long he has been advised further hospitalisation and if he had undergone any surgery or other medical procedure during his stay or if any procedure was planned.

In the morning, defence lawyer Anwar Mansoor Khan read out a statement saying that Gen. Musharraf’s health was such that it was not possible for him to attend court. He was not discharged from hospital and was under treatment at AFIC. Mr. Khan also submitted that as serious questions with regard to the jurisdiction of this court and its constitution were taken up for hearing, the objections should be decided first before the accused was called to court. The court allowed Mr. Khan to continue with his arguments on the constitution of the court on Friday.

Special public prosecutor Akram Sheikh told the court that the absence of Gen. Musharraf was deliberate and he loses his right to representation.

He said the court had already shown him sufficient indulgence but it was disregarded. The court in its order said that it was left with two options in view of the conflicting stand of both sides with regard to Gen. Musharraf. It could either presume that Gen. Musharraf was avoiding coming to court or it could verify his state of health. Accordingly the court chose to constitute the medical board.

Earlier, Mr. Khan also submitted a letter from Dr. Arjumand Hashmi, director of interventional cardiology, Paris Regional Medical Center in Texas, which said that Gen. Musharraf was under his care and supervision since 2006 when an initial cardiac evaluation was done and it was normal. After reviewing the current reports, it is clear that his disease has progressed significantly. The letter said that the findings of the current cardiac CT were alarming and it showed a high calcium score and multi-vessel coronary disease. These results show a significant amount of coronary artery disease, which can result in a heart attack if left untreated.

“Based on the above findings it is my professional opinion that he be transferred at the earliest to our medical facility to be provided further diagnostic and therapeutic treatment,” the letter concluded.

The government has already said it was not permitting the former military ruler to leave the country though rumours abound of a safe passage for Gen. Musharraf. His lawyers have said that the former president wants to stay and fight his court battles.