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June 12, 2018

Nadra ordered to unblock Musharraf’s CNIC, passport

Top Story

June 12, 2018

LAHORE: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and interior ministry to unblock the computerised national identity card (CNIC) as well as passport of former dictator Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf, enabling him to return Pakistan.

The order was issued after Nada Chairman Usman Mobin was spotted sitting in on a full-bench hearing for a separate case by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar.

When Chief Justice Nisar asked Mobin why he was in court, the Nadra chairman — who was called to the rostrum by the chief justice — said although the Supreme Court had last week allowed Musharraf tosubmit his nomination papers if he returned to Pakistan for a court hearing on June 13, the former dictator would not be able to since his CNIC and passport had been blocked.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan were the other members of the bench. The interior ministry had earlier issued directives to Nadra and the Directorate General of Immigration and Passports to suspend Musharraf's CNIC and passport in compliance with the order of a special court conducting a treason trial against the former president.

“If Musharraf is still a citizen of Pakistan, let him come. Why would you block the card? To give him a reason to not return?” the chief justice asked Mobin. “Musharraf should return and face the cases against him,” he asserted.

Chief Justice Nisar observed that Musharraf should not have any excuse for not returning to the country and face the cases against him. On Mobin’s verbal request seeking formal directives about what must be done about Musharraf’s travel and ID documents, the chief justice ordered that his CNIC and passport be unblocked.

The top judge also reiterated his earlier order that the former military ruler should not be arrested on his way to court from the airport.

The chief justice expressed concern over delay in reconstitution of a special trial court seized with the treason trial of Musharraf. “It seems that the government wants to benefit someone,” the chief justice observed.

The chief justice directed the federal government to notify the special court within two days so that the treason trial against Musharraf could be resumed.

In March this year, one of the members of a three-judge special trial court had recused himself from the treason trial after counsel of Musharraf raised an objection.

The trial court comprised Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Yahya Afridi, Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Yawar Ali and Baluchistan Chief Justice Tahira Safdar. The lawyer of Musharraf had raised objection on Justice Afridi’s inclusion in the court.

Chief justice Nisar had on June 8 conditionally allowed Musharraf to file his nomination papers to contest July 25 general election directing him to appear before the court on June 13. The former president had challenged a 2013 verdict by Peshawar High Court for his disqualification.

Case history

The Peshawar High Court had in April 2013 disqualified Musharraf for life in view of a July 31, 2009 judgement in which the Nov 3, 2007 emergency imposed by Musharraf was declared illegal.

Following his disqualification, Musharraf's nomination papers for Karachi's NA-250 seat in the polls that year were rejected by a returning officer on the grounds that he had held in abeyance and suspended the Constitution on Nov 3, 2007, detained and removed a number of superior court judges, and publicly insulted then chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

Musharraf's appeal against the PHC judgment in the Supreme Court questioned whether — by disqualifying the former ruler from contesting elections for the National Assembly, provincial assemblies or Senate or holding a public office — the court had not failed at the touchstone of legal and constitutional parameters settled by the Constitution and human rights declarations.

In a separate case, Musharraf was charged with high treason in December 2013 by a special court and indicted on March 31, 2014. The trial remained suspended after the court in November 2014 ordered a re-investigation into the case to identify any abettors in the imposition of emergency in November 2007.

The former military dictator left for Dubai in 2016 to 'seek medical treatment' and has not returned since.

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