In what appears to be a change of mind, the PML-N government has expressed its willingness to expand investigation into the treason case to the extent of three abettors, but it is feared that this may prolong the trial of former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf.
The high treason trial of the former military ruler in the special court has been suspended after the Islamabad High Court in December last year admitted three identical petitions filed by former prime minister Shaukat Aziz,
Supreme Court’s former chief justice Abdul Hameed Dogar and former minister Zahid Hamid for regular hearing and issued a stay order. Since then the three-judge special court has convened more than six meetings, but could not proceed further because of the restraining order. The three petitions were filed against the special court’s Nov 21, 2014, order asking the federal government to include Shaukat Aziz, Hameed Dogar and Zahid Hamid as co-accused in the treason case for imposing emergency on Nov 3, 2007. In a written reply submitted to a special division bench of the IHC comprising Justice Noorul Haq N.
Qureshi and Justice Amir Farooq last month, the federal government held Gen Musharraf sole accused in the treason case. But later in a written statement submitted to the IHC, the government deviated from its earlier stance. It said: “The federal government understands that while investigating any person as an aider or abettor, it is obliged to provide full opportunity to present his/her case to the investigating agency.” But it requested the IHC to expunge the “adverse remarks and observations made by the special court against the federal government and the investigating agency”. The special court had used the word “selective investigation” which the government wanted to be expunged. Advocate Faisal Hussain, a lawyer of Gen Musharraf, told Dawn that the government’s willingness to investigate the role of ‘abettors’ confirmed “our claim that the complaint in the high treason case was prepared in haste”.
“If the treason case is investigated afresh it will put a question mark on the legality of the complaint filed by the PML-N government against Gen Musharraf on Dec 13, 2013,” he said. According to him, such exercise may prolong the trial because until the abettors are interrogated and investigation to the extent of co-accused is concluded, the trial in the treason case cannot be resumed. As per the Criminal Procedure Code, the court conducts trial of both single and co-accused simultaneously. Additional Attorney General Afnan Karim Kundi said the government’s statement had been submitted in the context of a common stance taken by the three petitioners.
“It is also commonly agitated by the petitioners that they were not heard before passing the impugned order (of special court) and were thus condemned unheard,” he said. Mohammad Akram Sheikh, head of the prosecution in the high treason case, told Dawn that the prosecution had produced all evidence against Gen Musharraf before the special court. He said the recent development would not affect the pace of trial because it had nothing to do with the earlier complaint pending with the special court in which Gen Musharraf was the sole accused. Inclusion of any other in the treason case will not be helpful for Gen Musharraf as it will not lessen the crime he committed by imposing the emergency in 2007,” he explained.