LHC takes up Musharraf’s petition challenging reserved high treason case verdict

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday took up former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf’s petition challenging the verdict reserved by a special court in the high treason case against him.

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Justice Syed Mazhar Ali Akbar Naqvi, who presided over the proceedings, asked Musharraf’s lawyer, Khwaja Ahmed Tariq Rahim, to present two-point statements tomorrow and assist the court regarding the maintainability of the petition.

He was instructed to present his arguments on the following points:

  • How can the LHC hear the petition if there are proceedings against Musharraf ongoing in the Supreme Court?
  • Musharraf is a resident of Islamabad — how is the petition maintainable in Lahore?

The special court had on November 19 concluded the trial proceedings in the high treason case against Musharraf for declaring a state of emergency on November 3, 2007, and had ruled that a verdict would be announced on November 28 (Thursday) on the basis of the available record.

On Saturday, Musharraf had approached the LHC against the verdict reserved in the high treason case and sought suspension of his trial in absentia.

Musharraf’s counsel, Khwaja Ahmed Tariq Rahim, approached the high court on his client’s behalf, contending that the reserving of the verdict on November 19 was “unconstitutional and void”. It was pleaded that the impugned order from that date be suspended and that “the trial in absentia being conducted against the petitioner” be stayed until his physical appearance before the court.

Citing the “landmark judgment” in the Mustafa Impex, Karachi vs The Government of Pakistan case, the petition has called for the decision in that case to be enforced and the trial in Musharraf’s case to be re-initiated.

During today’s hearing, Justice Naqvi asked Rahim how the petition was maintainable in the LHC.

Citing the example of cases against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Rahim said that Nawaz’s cases were also ongoing in Islamabad but the LHC had found his petition maintainable. He added that it was a matter pertaining to the federal government, therefore, they could appeal to any high court.

According to Rahim, at the time the treason case against Musharraf was initiated, the approval of then-premier Nawaz had been taken. However, the approval of the cabinet was not sought.

Adjourning proceedings till Tuesday, Justice Naqvi asked the former president’s lawyer to assist them in understanding how the petition could be heard in the LHC.

The high treason trial of former military dictator for clamping the state of emergency has been pending since December 2013.

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