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Musharraf issued non-bailable arrest warrants

20 April, 2016

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ISLAMABAD: The special court hearing treason charges against retired General Pervez Musharraf issued on Tuesday non-bailable warrants of arrest over his failure to appear before the court, despite repeated notices to do so.

“Non-bailable warrants of arrest be issued against him (Gen Musharraf), executable through director general Federal Investigation Agency (FIA),” ordered the special court, consisting of Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Minakhel, Justice Syeda Tahira Safdar and Justice Mohammad Yawar Ali.

Gen Musharraf left the country on March 18, soon after the Supreme Court upheld the Sindh High Court directions to remove his name from the exit control list (ECL).

On Tuesday, the special court had reserved its ruling after an extended hearing in the morning, but the nine-page order was subsequently announced by the registrar of the court at around 4.15 pm.

Senior counsel Ahmad Raza Kasuri and Chaudhry Faisal Hussain represented Gen Musharraf and the surety applicant, retired Maj Gen Rashid Qureshi, while senior counsel Mohammad Akram Sheikh appeared as the special prosecutor.

The order required the FIA DG to ensure that Gen Musharraf is arrested. In case he fails to do so, the executing officer will have to appear before the court along with his proof of search for the accused, on May 11.

The court also rejected a separate application, seeking exemption for Gen Musharraf from personal appearance for 14 weeks, holding that it was non-maintainable in the circumstances.

On an application by Maj Gen Qureshi, where he had asked that his property in Sector E-11 — which he had submitted as surety — be substituted with prize bonds, the court ordered that the surety be forfeited since he could not ensure the presence of the accused in court.

The court also directed Maj Gen Qureshi to submit the amount to the court registrar within two weeks, failing which he would be issued a show-cause notice.

Maj Gen Qureshi had earlier pleaded that he posted surety not for monetary benefit, but on humanitarian grounds, and argued that he was not solely responsible for regulating the movement of Gen Musharraf as the government was also charged with monitoring him.

But the court ruled that since the accused was not present in court on March 31, nor at Tuesday’s hearing, Maj Gen Qureshi’s request for substitution cannot be considered at this stage of the case.

The court explained that the law was very clear on what to do when a person stood surety, but failed to honour the surety bond. In its order, the court said it was left with no option but to issue Maj Gen Qureshi a show-cause notice to produce the accused.

The special court also rejected a reply, which was supposed to be furnished by the interior secretary in compliance with a court order. However, his junior, Section Officer (ECL) Jehanzaib Pitafi submitted the reply — explaining why Gen Musharraf was allowed to leave the country — with the secretary’s signatures.

In its order, the court regretted that the interior secretary was also not present in court. When Joint Secretary Chaudhry Mubarak Ali was asked to explain his absence, he stated that the interior secretary was on leave for a couple of days, but that the reply was filed with his approval.

“Since the requisite reply has not been submitted in the proper mode and manner, nor we see any justifiable ground for absence of the interior secretary, the reply so submitted on his behalf is not acceptable, hence rejected,” the order said.

The interior secretary has now been ordered to submit his reply, with his own affidavit, within seven days and to appear in person before the court at the next hearing.

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