ISLAMABAD: The bench conducting the high-treason trial against former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf was abolished today after Justice Yahya Afridi, who headed the bench, recused himself from hearing the case.
The hearing of the treason case was supposed to resume today. However, Justice Afridi, who is chief justice of the Peshawar High Court, recused himself from the bench after Musharraf’s lawyer objected to his inclusion, saying Justice Afridi was former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s lawyer.
The bench deliberated on the matter in-chamber after which Justice Afridi recused himself. However, in his order, he observed that the counsel’s objections are factually incorrect. He explained that he was never former chief justice Chaudhry’s counsel but was indeed a co-petitioner in the case against Musharraf’s Nov 3, 2007 emergency.
Other members of the bench include Justice Tahira Safdar of the Balochistan High Court and Justice Yawar Ali, chief justice of the Lahore High Court.
During an earlier hearing, on March 16, the special court directed the federal government to put special measures in place to bring the ex-military ruler back from the United Arab Emirates.
The special court had ordered that the interior ministry should take action for the arrest of the former military ruler through the Interpol.
The court also ruled that the federal government should take measures for the confiscation of Musharraf’s assets and asked the interior ministry to take action to revoke his national identity card and passport.
The former president’s advocate in his arguments had said that an application was sent to the defence ministry for the security of Musharraf upon his return.
Musharraf, through his counsel, requested for foolproof security upon return to Pakistan in relation to his appearance before the court.
However, a few days later, Musharraf’s counsel informed the court that they were unsatisfied with the security arrangements and thus his client would not be travelling to the country until adequate arrangements are in place.
The former army chief was indicted in the case in March 2014 after he appeared before the court and rejected all charges.
On March 18, 2016, the former president left Pakistan for Dubai for medical treatment after his name was removed from the Exit Control List on the orders of the Supreme Court.
A few months later, the special court had declared him a proclaimed offender and ordered the confiscation of his property owing to his no-show.