Islamabad : A special Pakistani tribunal has ordered the government to arrest former military ruler Pervez Musharraf and confiscate all his properties as it heard the high treason case against the “proclaimed offender” for imposing emergency rule in the country in 2007. The 74-year-old former president was indicted in March, 2014 on treason charges for imposing emergency in the country which led to the confinement of a number of superior court judges in their houses and sacking of over 100 judges.
A three-member bench headed by Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Yahya Afridi held its first hearing in the case in eight months. During the hearing, the interior ministry submitted in the court a report on Musharraf’s properties, stating four of the seven properties are owned by the former president, The Nation reported. Prosecutor Akram Sheikh asked the court to order Musharraf’s arrest and his production.
Musharraf, who left the country for Dubai in March 2016, was declared a proclaimed absconder by the court in May 2016. A conviction for high treason carries the death penalty or life imprisonment. The court during yesterday’s asked the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) officials what the procedure is to bring back an absconder from abroad. The officials replied the interior ministry should send them a request after which action could be taken. Afridi then said the court is ordering the arrest of Musharraf and seizure of his properties.
Musharraf’s counsel, Akhtar Shah, prayed to the court not to order confiscation of Musharraf’s properties until March 21, but Afridi remarked the court procedure cannot be violated. During the hearing, the court sought mutual legal assistance agreement with the UAE in the matter of his arrest from Dubai. The court also expressed anger over non-receipt of details of his foreign properties even after 10 months.
The court questioned what problem lies with initiation of action in respect of his properties outside the country and why Interpol has not been contacted after issuance of warrants against him. The court summoned Foreign Office and FIA authorities on the next hearing, besides seeking mutual legal assistance agreement with the UAE. during the hearing, senior lawyer Farogh Naseem separated himself from Musharraf’s legal team.
Musharraf ruled Pakistan from 1999 to 2008. He is wanted in Pakistan in several criminal cases including in the killing of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.