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June 13, 2018

Musharraf must return if he’s brave: SC

Top Story

June 13, 2018

LAHORE: Chief Justice (CJ) Mian Saqib Nisar said Tuesday no favour had been given to former dictator Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf, as only hurdles to his return to country to face cases have been removed.

He gave these remarks while heading a three-member bench of the Supreme Court hearing the implementation case of the 2012 order in Asghar Khan case, at apex court’s Lahore Registry.

Other members of the bench were Justice Umar Atta Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan. The chief justice said: “Now it all depends on him (Musharraf) to prove how brave he is” by returning to the country, as all obstacles in this regard had been removed.

The remarks followed by a complaint by senior politician Makhdoom Javed Hashmi that the Supreme Court was shielding Musharraf, who held the constitution in abeyance twice, adding that the apex court had also done this before.

The chief justice said, “We have removed the hurdles in way of Pervez Musharraf’s return to the country. Now, it all depends on Musharraf's bravery and courage if he returns to the country or not. The investigation will be held as per law.”

The CJ also asked Musharraf not to issue statements from abroad, but return home and prove his innocence before the court of law. The CJ had a serious dialogue with Javed Hashmi. He reminded Hashmi of his old taunting statement about him (CJ). Hashmi had asked the CJ to participate in elections and challenged that he could not win election from his native area (Bhatti Gate). “I am neither a politician nor supposed to contest elections. I am the guardian and custodian of the Constitution,” the chief justice told Hashmi. The senior politician said: “I did not commit any contempt of court. I respect you from core of my heart.” Javed Hashmi pointed out that he faced high treason case during the military rule of Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf and was kept in jail for six years. He said he was tortured but nothing was proved against him. Resultantly, Musharraf had to release him, he added.

Casting doubts over fairness of election process, he said certain politicians were being intimidated and pressurised, but he pledged that “We could not be threatened and would participate in the election with zeal,” he said. Hashmi also expressed annoyance over presence of Advocate Yousaf Memon, a character of Asghar Khan case, in the court. Hashmi doubted the impartiality of the FIA and said a fair probe could not be held under the prevailing circumstances. To substantiate his point, Hashmi said the FIA kept Memon hiding for six years and now suddenly brought him to the scene “to accomplish its nefarious design”.

Earlier, the chief justice told the Federal Investigation Agency that no further delay would be tolerated in completion of investigation into Asghar Khan case and ordered all institutions, including the Ministry of Defence, to ensure cooperation with the FIA.

The case implicated former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director general (DG) Asad Durrani and chief of army staff (COAS) Gen (retd) Aslam Beg as well as a number of politicians in relation to rigging of 1990 elections.

Prominent politicians Javed Hashmi, Abida Hussain, Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, Ghulam Mustafa Khar, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) DG Bashir Memon and Gen Asad Durrani appeared before the bench. The FIA has been tasked with ensuring implementation of the court verdict.

The court also asked Bashir Memon to continue as the FIA DG till investigation into the case was completed.

When asked whether ousted prime minister had recorded his statement, the FIA DH replied in affirmative. “We have received Nawaz’s statement. He denied receiving Rs3.5m from Durrani.”

He said that statements of 18 persons including Gen (retd) Aslam Beg, Lt-Gen (retd) Asad Durrani, Abida Hussain, Farid Piracha, Mustafa Khar and Altaf Qureshi had also been recorded.

The CJ said that anybody summoned by the FIA must appear before the agency. “No agency has any power within the remits of this court,” he said.

To a court query, Memon told the CJ that he was a lawyer and received a court’s notice for his appearance in Asghar Khan case. To this, the FIA DG said politicians were given money through Yousaf Memon. However, Chief Justice Nisar asked Memon to leave the rostrum.

Bizenjo and Khar denied any wrongdoing before the court, with Khar saying that only politicians are framed in such cases. On this, the CJ said cooperating in a probe could in no way be likened to harassing one.

Khar said only politicians were humiliated and stigmatised in the country time and again. He said it was still unclear who was anti-state and who was loyal. He, however, added that Pakistan is our ‘mother’ but we all have failed to protect. He demanded the CJ that time had come to determine who protected the motherland and who looted it.

Chief Justice Nisar observed that the purpose of the probe was not to defame or harass anyone. “If you succeed everything would be clear,” the CJ added. Meanwhile, Bazinjo told the court that he had no connection with Asghar Khan case. The CJ said all politicians from Balochistan were respectable and he also had special love for that province.

The chief justice told politicians to bear it in their minds that there would be no injustice with anyone. Representing Jamaat-i-Islami, senior lawyer Hafiz Abdul Rehman Ansari urged the chief justice to do a favour to whole nation by ending the role of intelligence agencies in politics.

However, chief justice asked the counsel to point out if there was any role of the agencies in working of courts. He said the politicians should grow stronger above the agencies and judiciary would protect them.