A Pakistan special court on November 27 reportedly allowed the former dictator General (retd) Pervez Musharraf until December 5 to record his statement in the high treason case against him. However, the court further also noted that the statement won't be bound to follow the high court's order against announcing the verdict. During the hearing, the three benches of the special court, headed by Peshawar high court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth said that the HC had granted the government time till December 5 to appoint a prosecution team and after that, they will not be giving any further time.
The court was set to announce its verdict on November 28 after Musharraf’s lawyer failed to submit arguments. The Islamabad High Court, in its short order, directed the federal government to notify a new team of prosecution by December 5. When the three-member bench of the special court, headed by Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth, had inquired about the reason behind the removal of the prosecution team, Deputy Attorney General Sajid Ilyas Bhatti informed that change in government led to Akram Sheikh’s, head of the prosecution, resignation. Sheikh, in his resignation letter to the interior secretary, had expressed his inability to head the team after a change of guard at the Centre.
The treason case against Musharraf was filed in 2013 by the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) government for alleged clampdown of the state through the imposition of extra-constitutional emergency in November 2007. But the former President managed to leave Pakistan in 2016 after the Supreme Court ordered the removal of his name from the Exit Control List (ECL). Since then, Musharraf, who took shelter in Dubai citing medical treatment, has refused to return to Pakistan.
The former military dictator is also facing terrorism charges and recently, an Islamabad High Court division bench had dismissed his plea to transfer the case from the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) to the sessions court. In 2011, a first information report (FIR) was registered against him under section 344 of Pakistan penal code in connection with criminal detention of judges of superior court after declaring an emergency. Gen. Musharraf, who seized power in 1999 by toppling the government of Nawaz Sharif, had to step down in 2008 due to his infamous decisions. Musharraf may face a death sentence if gets convicted in the case.
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(With inputs from agencies)