The Supreme Court on Thursday withdrew its directive allowing former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf to file nomination papers for the upcoming elections after he failed to appear for a court hearing. Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar had directed the former military ruler to return to Pakistan and appear before the court by afternoon today but he failed to turn up. Musharraf’s counsel informed the court that his client will be unable to appear in court and requested more time. He pleaded that the former president plans on returning but needs more time to appear due to the current situation in the country and Eid-ul-Fitr holidays.
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The court adjourned the case for an unspecified period of time, and rescinded its directive allowing Musharraf to file nomination papers, and asked his lawyer to let the court know when he wants the case to be heard. The chief justice had earlier inquired about Musharraf’s intention to appear before the court. He instructed the deputy attorney general to provide an update on Musharraf’s appearance. “Find out if Musharraf will appear before court or not,” the chief justice ordered. The hearing was scheduled for 2:00PM today but we can wait if Musharraf will appear.” He added that the court staff had to leave for Eid holidays. A three-judge bench, headed by CJP Saqib Nisar, was hearing the appeal of the former military ruler against his 2013 disqualification verdict by the Peshawar High Court.
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The bench had warned that if the former president does not show up in court by the stated time, then a decision would be taken according to the law in his absence. He further said in his remarks that if Musharraf does not face the court, the scrutiny of his nomination papers for contesting general elections will be halted. “SC is not bound to release a written guarantee to him according to the conditions set forth by him; we have already given assurance that he will not be arrested upon his return then what is he afraid of?” the chief justice said. The top judge clarified that the government was behind the move of allowing Musharraf to go abroad. “It was government not the judiciary who removed former military general’s name from the exit control list (ECL),” he reiterated. Musharraf left for Dubai in March 2016 to seek medical treatment and has not returned ever since.