ISLAMABAD - If former President Pervez Musharraf is ultimately convicted in high treason case, no one else but his counsels will be squarely responsible as until now what they have argued before the Islamabad High Court, Special Court and the Supreme Court is going against the former dictator.
The legal team comprising senior and competent lawyers seems to be in no mood to seek worthwhile relief for the 70-year-old ex-general. Despite getting huge fees and gaining personal fame from this high profile case, they have so far refused to seek fair trial or a meritorious decision of the case.
Though the defence counsels have taken millions of rupees from Musharraf in fee but they did not pay Rs400,000 to his AOR Abbas Naqvi, who has filed four cases on behalf of Musharraf in the Supreme Court. The AOR had to send legal notice to Pervez Musharraf for the payment of his fee.
Musharraf’s counsels have been adopting different tactics to delay the proceedings of the high treason case and exhausting case-related arguments before other forums. Among their prime ‘achievements’ is their concession that former president had promulgated the Emergency on November 3, 2007 on his own discretion and not on the advice of then Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. This confession of senior lawyer Ibrahim Satti before the Supreme Court, while arguing for review of July 31, 2009 judgment, has made the things more complicated for the Commando.
In July 2009 judgment review petitions, Musharraf’s team invited more trouble for their client by stating that former military dictator does not recognise 1973 Constitution as the constitution of Pakistan. This statement deeply disturbed the 14-member bench of the Supreme Court which questioned that why then Musharraf was seeking relief under Article 188 of the same constitution and from the judges who themselves have taken oath to defend, protect and preserve the constitution.
Sources told The Nation that when Sharifuddin Pirzada and Ibrahim Satti had prepared the draft of review petition and showed it to Musharraf, he had strongly reacted to the inclusion of this argument saying, “If I would hear it as a judge then I would simply reject it as I have taken oath under the same constitution as president and it is ridiculous that now I don’t accept it!”
But Ibrahim kept that argument in the petition and emphasised it before the court. When the judges showed concern, the counsel quickly asked the bench to abandon this portion of the review petition. Moreover, during hearing of the review petitions Musharraf counsels seemed clueless what relief they had to seek. They gave irrelevant arguments and the judges had to snub them a number of times. When the court inquired from the counsels “do they want some relief or any specific concession for their client?” They remained quite.
The bench also proposed it could issue direction to the Special Court to decide the high treason case without being influenced from the July 31 judgment, which many believe is the basis of high treason case against Musharraf. The court even asked whether they wanted forgiveness for their client but Musharraf counsels gave no reply. When the court asked should it issue direction for fair trial of the high treason case, they did not utter a single word on that too.
There seems to be lack of coordination between the counsels and they don’t know what they have to argue before the court. Ibrahim Satti, who argued Musharraf review petitions for two consecutive days before the Supreme Court, snubbed his own team members including Sharifud Din Pirzada when they wanted to give him some suggestions.
Anwar Mansoor, former attorney general for Pakistan, since December 24 has given similar arguments before the Special Court. Senior lawyer Ahmed Raza Kausri so far has not uttered even a single word, except passing remarks against prosecution and yelling at reporters. He along with other members of Musharraf’s legal team is making all out efforts to unnecessarily drag the Armed Forces in the case.
Punishment of an army officer for a crime, which he committed for his personal gain, does not tarnish the image of the institution. In Asghar Khan case, the Supreme Court ordered for taking action against ex-COAS Mirza Aslam Beg and ISI ex-chief Asad Durrani because they were involved in distribution of money among politicians. It was not labelled as a punishment to the Army or the ISI. No one objected to that judgment of the Supreme Court wherein Federal Investigative Agency was directed to proceed against Beg and Durrani. Many political parties, retired generals, human rights activists and TV anchorpersons welcomed that judgment.
If the government had filed the complaint against Pervez Musharraf and the trial court is conducting high treason proceedings then why it has been deemed that the trial is against the institution. If Musharraf had taken unconstitutional and illegal acts on his discretion then institution should stay away from him. The Army as an institution of the whole nation and owned by any individual.