ISLAMABAD  - Despite passing some four weeks after the indictment of former President Pervez Musharraf, the high treason trial under article 6 of the constitution could not be started, in strict sense of law, yet and it seems the trial will not begin even in the next week too.
Though technically the trial has commenced with framing of charges under section 6 of the Criminal Law Amendment (Special Court) Act 1976 against the accused, practically it is not the case because instead of recording the witnesses’ statements and cross-examination the court again is hearing Musharraf’s applications.
The three-judge special court headed by Justice Faisal Arab and comprised Justice Tahira Safdar and Justice Yawar Ali, established under section 4 of Criminal Law Amendment (Special Court) Act 1976, is not inclined to begin the trial even after 43 hearings.
Since the beginning of the high treason proceedings on December 24, 2013 the former general’s counsels have been burdening the special court with various applications in order to delay the trial, in which somehow they have succeeded. Musharraf’s legal team has filed the applications against the constitution of bench, biasness of the judges, appointment of Akram Sheikh as prosecutor, trial in special court instead of military court under Army Act 1952, and applicability of Code of Criminal Procedure in the case etc. All of them have been dismissed by the special court.
Legal experts are of the view that the court has unnecessarily given a lot of time to Musharraf’s lawyers to argue the petitions. Musharraf’s counsels sometime pleaded the applications again and again and in rebuttal took two to three days, which normally should not be more than two to three hours, they said.
In the last hearing the court had reserved verdict on non-supply of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) inquiry and investigation report to former President Pervez Musharraf and ruled that on the next hearing (April 28) it would take up two other applications filed by the accused, including the one seeking trial of other persons who advised the accused to impose emergency on 3rd of November 2007.
One of the prosecutors on condition of anonymity shared with The Nation that the defence team’s filibustering had wasted much time of the nation. He said that approximately four months had passed and the court was still hearing the application, which should not have been done as million of rupees from national exchequer had been spent on the case. He said that the government had filed the application in accordance with the law and, therefore, the court should not delay the trial further.
Interior Secretary Shahid Ullah Khan on behalf of the federal government on 12th December 2013 had filed a private complaint under article 6 of the constitution and other relevant laws against the former president for subverting, abrogating, suspending, and holding in abeyance the constitution. Akram Sheikh on many occasions during the proceedings had stated that once the trial commenced, he would conclude it within a week.
Ahmed Raza Kasuri, Musharraf’s counsel, told The Nation that prosecution was in a hurry but the court should see all the aspects before commencing the trial. “This is not an ordinary trial and for the first time in the history of Pakistan someone has been tried under article 6 of the constitution, therefore the court should handle it carefully,” he said.
Farogh Naseem, defence counsel, had said if all the material was not provided to the accused then the trial could be restarted, as the investigation report of FIA did not fall in the ambit of Official Secret Act that could be concealed from the defendant.