Musharraf barred from contesting election

22

Lawyer says his client needs more time to appear before court

Staff Reporter

Lahore

Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on Thursday took back a conditional permission earlier granted to Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf to contest the upcoming general election after his counsel informed that the former president will not return to the country Thursday.
“Musharraf wants to return to the country but cannot owing to the current situation and Eid-ul-Fitr holidays,” the former military chief’s counsel told the bench during the hearing of a case filed by Musharraf in 2015 against the rejection of his nomination papers in the 2013 general election at Supreme Court’s Lahore Registry.
The chief justice had earlier Thursday inquired about Musharraf’s intention to appear before the court. “Find out if Musharraf will appear before court or not,” the chief justice ordered the deputy attorney general, adding that an update regarding the former president’s appearance should be submitted in court at the earliest.
“The hearing was scheduled for 2:00pm but we can wait if Musharraf will appear [before court],” Justice Nisar said. He observed that the court staff had to leave for Eid-ul-Fitr holidays.
A day earlier, the apex court had directed Musharraf to return to the country by 2:00pm Thursday.
The court had said that the former army chief’s nomination papers will be received by the returning officer, but would only be considered if Musharraf appeared in person at the SC Lahore registry.
Musharraf had then filed his nomination papers from NA-1 Chitral after the court’s directive, but failed to appear in court on Wednesday.
Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar then gave the former president until 2pm Thursday to appear in person or face action according to the law.
Musharraf’s lawyer Qamar Afzal pleaded that the former president plans on returning but needs more time to appear before the court owing to the “current situation [in the country]” and Eidul Fitr holidays.
Adjourning the case for an unspecified period of time, the court took back 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 next.
A four-member bench of the apex court, headed by the chief justice, was hearing Musharraf’s appeal against his 2013 disqualification by the Peshawar High Court.
“The Supreme Court is not bound to Musharraf’s terms,” the CJP had remarked in Wednesday’s hearing, after the former president’s counsel had insisted on blanket guarantees for his security. “We’ve already said that if Musharraf returns, he will be provided with security. We are not bound to also provide a written guarantee in this regard.”
“If he doesn’t return, the scrutiny of his nomination papers will not be permitted,” Justice Nisar had warned.