Nawaz names judges for Musharraf’s trial

Prime minister pakistanThe federal government has constituted a special court, headed by Sindh High Court’s judge Justice Faisal Arab, for the treason trial of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has approved three high courts judges for the special court. It is for the first time in Pakistan’s history that a former army chief is being tried under Article 6 of the constitution. The special court will be headed by Justice Faisal Arab of the Sindh High Court and comprise Balochistan High Court’s judge Justice Tahira Safdar and Lahore High Court’s Justice Mohammad Yawar Ali Khan. It will work in the Islamabad High Court building. Earlier on Tuesday, all the high courts submitted the names of judges for the constitution of the special court for the trial of Musharraf under Section 2 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973.

The nominated judges were Islamabad High Court’s Justice Noorul Haq N Qureshi, Justice Muhammad Yawar Ali Khan of the Lahore High Court, Justice Faisal Arab of the Sindh High Court, Justice Tahira Safdar of the Balochistan High Court and Justice Yahya Afridi of the Peshawar High Court. Later, Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry asked the federal government to select three names out of the five to establish the special court under Section 4 of the Criminal Law Amendment (Special Courts) Act, 1976. When constituted, the court will start functioning in Islamabad.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali had announced on Sunday that the government had sent a one-page letter to the Supreme Court registrar with a request to constitute a special court comprising three high court judges to try Musharraf for treason. Ministry of Law and Justice Secretary Zafarullah Khan on Monday submitted the letter to the Supreme Court registrar for the constitution of the special court under the Criminal Law Amendment (special courts) Act 1976. “Federal government has decided to invoke the power vested in it under section 4 of the Criminal Law Amendment (Special Courts) Act 1976 (Act No.XVII of 1976 to establish a special court to try General (retired) Pervez Musharraf for various offences falling under section 2 of the High Treason (Punishment Act, 1973 (Act LXVILLL of 1973,” the letter stated.

It noted, “The law provides that the special court shall comprise of three serving judges of high courts. Since there are five high courts for the special court, therefore, it would be appropriate that the apex court my nominate any three judges from the high courts for the said special court. It is therefore requested that the instant matter may please be placed before the hon’able chief justice of Pakistan for the nomination of three judges from the high courts. It is also requested that out of three judges, one may be nominated to be the president of the special court. The special court will function at Islamabad,” the letter adds. It has been learnt that the government has appointed Advocate Zulfiqar Abbas Naqvi as the special prosecutor in the treason case against Musharraf.

Political analyst Hasan Askari has said the move by the government appeared to be aimed at deflecting criticism over its failure on various fronts, including law and order and the economy. He warned it would be counterproductive and likely fail. “The government would not be successful in this move because it has no credibility,” veteran lawyer SM Zafar said: “This is something beyond my comprehension.” “The Supreme Court has nothing to do with this case,” he said. The Supreme Court is the forum where an appeal against the special bench would come finally, he explained. -Dailytimes