Non-bailable arrest warrant issued against Musharraf

Islamabad, March 14: A special court in Pakistan formed to try former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf in a high treason case issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against him Friday after he failed to appear in court again.

The three-member bench of the court had summoned the former military ruler to formally indict him with high treason charges for abrogating the constitution.

The court ordered Musharraf to appear March 31.

“Arrest the accused if he refuses to appear before the court,” Xinhua quoted the short order as saying.

Musharraf has been accused of committing high treason when he suspended the constitution and imposed emergency in November 2007.

Musharraf’s defence lawyer, Anwar Mansoor, earlier told the court that the former president cannot appear because of dangers to his life.

“We cannot take the risk to bring Musharraf to the court,” Mansoor had told the court when head of the three-member bench, Justice Faisal Arab of the Singh High Court, asked him why the accused had not been presented in court.

Mansoor referred to a recent threat alert by the security agencies, saying the Taliban and Al Qaeda militants have planned an assassination attempt on Musharraf.

According to the alert, the militants have planned to target Musharraf inside or outside the court.

The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has denied they have issued threats to Musharraf and said they would not attack him due to a month-long ceasefire announced March 1.

Prosecutor Akram Sheikh insisted that the court issue a non-bailable arrest warrant for Musharraf as he avoided court appearance. He also suggested that if Musharraf does not want to appear, then the proceedings could be held inside a prison.

The court was informed that over 2,000 security personnel are deployed for Musharraf’s security on every hearing. However Musharraf’s defence team was dissatisfied with measures against security threats.

Musharraf is Pakistan’s first military ruler in 66 years to face high treason charges.

Legal experts said that, if found guilty, Musharraf could either face death penalty or life imprisonment under Pakistani laws.

He had already got bail in three high profile cases, including the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was killed in a suicide bomb attack and gunshots during Musharraf’s rule in Rawalpindi.

Musharraf, who had resigned in 2008 as president and had gone into exile, returned to Pakistan last March to contest parliament elections in May. However, a court disqualified him from standing in the May elections.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose previous government was dislodged by Musharraf, announced in June last year the opening of the high treason case against the former military president for suspension of the constitution.

In January, Musharraf was taken to a military hospital in the nearby Rawalpindi city for medical check-up, when he was on way to the court.

He is still under treatment in the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology and doctors said he wanted treatment abroad. The court has, however, rejected his request and ruled that all facilities are available in Pakistan.

IANS