In a temporary relief for Pervez Musharraf, the Lahore High Court on Tuesday accepted a petition from the Dubai-based ailing former Pakistani military dictator who sought to stop a special tribunal from pronouncing its verdict in the high treason case against him on Thursday.
Justice Syed Mazhar Ali Akbar Naqvi of the Lahore High Court (LHC) accepted Mr. Musharraf’s petition and sought replies from the federal government and the Ministry of Interior by November 28. The judge also directed the federal government and concerned officials to appear before the court on the same date.
Interestingly, the Pakistan government filed a separate plea in the Islamabad High Court on Monday to stop the special tribunal from issuing its verdict on November 28 in the high treason case against 76-year-old Musharraf.
If found guilty, Musharraf could be sentenced to death or imprisonment for life.
The high treason trial of Musharraf for imposing the state of emergency on November 3, 2007, filed during the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government, has been pending since 2013.
He was booked in the treason case in December 2013. Musharraf was indicted on March 31, 2014, and the prosecution tabled the entire evidence before the special court in September the same year.
However, due to litigation at appellate forums, the trial of Musharraf lingered on and he left Pakistan in March 2016 with the approval of superior courts as well as the interior ministry. Since then he has been an absconder in the case, Dawn News reported.
On Monday Justice Naqvi of the LHC had directed Musharraf’s lawyer Khwaja Ahmed to give arguments regarding the maintainability of the petition.
The LHC had questioned whether the plea falls under its jurisdiction as the former president is a resident of Islamabad, the Geo News reported.
The court had also said that the case is with the Supreme Court and under the circumstances the petitioner should reach out to the apex court.
The special court had on November 19 concluded the trial proceedings in the high treason case against Musharraf for declaring a state of emergency in 2007 and had ruled that a verdict would be announced on November 28.
Musharraf, who is living in Dubai in self-exile, challenged the special court verdict in the LHC on Saturday and sought suspension of his trial in absentia.
According to Pakistani media reports, Musharraf suffers from amyloidosis, a rare disease caused by the build-up of an abnormal protein called amyloid in organs and tissues in the body, and is under medication
Musharraf’s counsel contended that the reserving of the verdict on November 19 was “unconstitutional and void“.
As Pakistan President, Musharraf imposed emergency and suspended the Constitution in 2007, which according to Article 6 of the Constitution was an act of high treason.
Though he was indicted in 2014, the case made slow progress. Musharraf was allowed to go abroad in 2016 for medical treatment. He never came back and the case was stalled. But the Supreme Court earlier this year ordered the tribunal to prosecute him even if he failed to come back.