Pakistan court rejects plea to drop terrorism charges against Musharraf

Musharraf, terrorism charges, Islamabad High Court, Pervez Musharraf
The former Army chief left for Dubai for medical treatment in March 2016 and has not returned since, citing security and health reasons. Photo: PTI

A Pakistani court on Wednesday (October 9) dismissed a petition seeking deletion of terrorism charges against former military dictator Pervez Musharraf.

An Islamabad High Court (IHC) division bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb dismissed the petition because of the repeated absence of Shah during the hearing of the case, Dawn News reported.

The petition had also sought the transfer of his case from the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) to the sessions court, according to a media report.

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The bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb had resumed the hearing of the petition filed by 75-year-old Musharraf through his lawyer Akhtar Shah.

Musharraf has been seeking deletion of terrorism charges and the subsequent transfer of his case from the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) to the sessions court.

Also read: Musharraf returns to politics, vows to fight for Kashmir till last breath

He has sought the removal of these charges on the grounds that, initially, the FIR was registered under the Pakistan Penal Code against him in connection with the detention of 60 judges of the superior judiciary after the imposition of emergency on November 3, 2007.

However, in 2013, a single-member bench of the IHC had ordered the police to invoke the anti-terror law against Musharraf since detaining judges was considered “an act of terrorism”.

The ATC has already declared Musharraf a proclaimed offender in the judges’ detention case as he has been abroad since March 2016, the report said.

The prosecution has laid all the evidence against the accused in this case. However, the trial has come to a standstill as the former military leader has refused to surrender.

In 2009, the Secretariat police had registered the judges’ detention case against Musharraf on the complaint of advocate Mohammad Aslam Ghumman. The complainant said that the former president, soon after the imposition of emergency in 2007, had kept 60 judges of the superior courts under detention for over five months at their residences, it said.

Also read: 18 years after 9/11 attacks, US war on terror goes haywire

Interestingly, despite the prosecution’s repeated requests, none of the detained judges or their family members testified before the ATC. Moreover, the prosecution did not mention in the FIR names of the judges detained.

Taking benefit of legal loopholes, Musharraf’s counsel Shah challenged the terrorism charges. As per the petition, Section 7 of the ATA, 1997, was inserted in the case on the orders of the IHC, but the charges were not proved during the investigation.

The petition added that no evidence was produced in connection with Section 7 of the ATA by the investigators and prosecution.

While referring to an order of the IHC, it said, a division bench comprising Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi and Justice Riaz Ahmed Khan had held that the lawyer’s allegations could not be considered as evidence.

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