ISLAMABAD: If Ahmed Raza Kasuri – close aide and legal counsel to former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf – is to be believed, the general left the country thanks to a “mutual understanding” with the PML-N government.
During the proceeding of the treason trial on Thursday, Mr Kasuri told the special court that the interior ministry was the complainant in the case against Gen Musharraf, but he had only left the country after the ministry removed his name from the Exit Control List (ECL).
Turning towards the three-judge bench, Mr Kasuri said, “I can only say ‘Jab mian biwi raazi tou kya karay qazi’”, meaning the court has no jurisdiction if both sides had reached an agreement.
“If the complainant, which brought this matter before the special court, is showing courtesy for the accused and letting him go, then we are discussing this matter at this forum for no reason,” he maintained.
Ahmed Raza Kasuri says he can’t take responsibility for ensuring client’s presence before court
The special court could have taken the matter up at an appropriate time, he remarked, adding that the fate of the treason case would probably be the same as that of the Agartala conspiracy case and Hyderabad Tribunals, which were scrapped after a regime change.
The Agartala conspiracy was a sedition case, filed in 1968 by the government of Pakistan against Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, leader of the Awami League in what was then East Pakistan, as well as 34 others. The Hyderabad Tribunals of 1975 were instituted against politicians of the Awami National Party on charges of treason and acting against the ideology of Pakistan.
On Thursday, Mr Kasuri also filed an application on Gen Musharraf’s behalf, seeking a 14-week adjournment. This means that the counsel does not expect his client to return for at least three and half months.
“Can you assure the court that Gen Musharraf will be present if this application to adjourn the treason case for 14 weeks is accepted,” asked Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, who is heading the three-judge special court. In response, Mr Kasuri said, “I am a professional lawyer, I can convey to my client that the judges desire your presence but I cannot take responsibility for procuring his attendance.”
Justice Miankhel also expressed annoyance over the way the interior ministry had removed Gen Musharraf’s name from the ECL without bringing the matter into the notice of the special court.
The judge also summoned the interior secretary to seek an explanation. When interior secretary Arif Ahmed Khan appeared, Justice Miankhel asked, “You were the complainant and knew that the court had summoned Gen Musharraf on March 8 to record his statement. So despite this fact, why did you let him go?”
The interior secretary responded by saying the government had taken the matter to the Supreme Court and after its appeal was dismissed, the interior ministry accepted the application seeking the removal of Gen Musharraf name from the ECL.
“How could we assume that he (Gen Musharraf) will not come back to face proceedings,” the interior secretary said, adding that Gen Musharraf had stated publicly that he would return to Pakistan.
At this point, lead prosecutor Akram Sheikh told the court that the prosecution had laid all the evidence before the court and had concluded witness testimonies on September 14, 2014.
He said that it was Gen Musharraf’s turn to appear in court to defend himself against the allegations, adding that the trial may even be concluded in Gen Musharraf’s absence. He also suggested that the court may even employ a video link to complete the legal requirement of recording Gen Musharraf’s statement under Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
The special court directed the interior secretary submit a written response within a fortnight and adjourned proceedings until April 19.