Karachi Bar Association Bashes Govt For Defending Musharraf
KARACHI– The Karachi Bar Association (KBA) has lashed out at the government for “defending and protecting a convicted criminal”, following the Centre’s decision to appeal a special court’s verdict in the treason case against former army chief retired Gen Pervez Musharraf.
“The KBA is shocked that the government is solely concerned about defending and protecting a convicted criminal rather than doing its lawful duty to prosecute and punish him,” said a press release by the body, dated December 21.
“More particularly, the attorney general and law minister and other ministers who are supposed to prosecute a criminal on behalf of the State are defending that criminal rather than supporting the judgment.”
On December 17, a special court had convicted former military dictator Musharraf in a treason case and handed him a death penalty. Following the release of the detailed verdict, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government had termed the trial “unfair” and decided to defend the self-exiled, ailing ex-president during the hearing of an appeal to be filed on his behalf.
“I will defend the law in the case but not any individual,” Attorney General Anwar Mansoor had said. “Musharraf was not given a chance to record his statement under Article 342 (of the Constitution), to present his testimony and witnesses and his request to record his statement through video link or before a commission was turned down by the judge,” he had observed.
“It is also strange that provisions of the Constitution are now being quoted in defence of Gen (R) Musharraf who said ‘the Constitution is a piece of paper to be thrown in the dustbin’,” noted the KBA in its statement. “In fact, Constitution is supreme and no one is above the law be it general, dictator or anyone else.”
KBA also regretted the statement issued by the director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) after the verdict was announced, in which he had said that the special court’s decision was “received with lot of pain and anguish within rank and file of Pakistan Armed Forces”.
“As far as the pain and anguish expressed by the DG ISPR is concerned, the KBA wishes such emotions had been expressed when retired general Musharraf disgraced the good name of Pakistan’s beloved Armed Forces by suspending the Constitution and imposing martial law or when he masterminded the tragic events of May 12, 2007 when dozens of citizens including lawyers lost their lives,” the KBA said in its statement.
“On that fateful day, when innocents were being killed by terrorists, the dictator arrogantly showed his fists to show his contempt for law and the value of human lives but no statement about that has been made by the DG ISPR.
“The judiciary of Pakistan better understands its responsibilities under the law and the Constitution than any DG ISPR,” the body declared.
The lawyers’ body termed as “unfortunate” the insinuations by the government and the security establishment that the judgement was “weakening the security of Pakistan or being used by foreign hands”.
It further advised that any “defects and errors” in the judgement can be challenged through an appeal “rather than through press conferences or through filing of references against the author judges”.
The statement ended with the hope that Musharraf “like other leaders before him” will return to Pakistan and “file his appeal from the jail cell”.
“If not, the government is bound to secure his extradition,” the statement concluded.
KBA’s statement comes days after the Pakistan Bar Council issued a press release, objecting to the insulting criticism of the judgement.
“If there are some flaws in the judgement of Musharraf’s case, in the opinion of DG ISPR, then the law has provided, procedure and proper course for agitating such flaws, if any, before the higher judicial forums by way of appeal, revision or constitutional petition but the manner and the way, in which, the judgement of the special court has been criticised by an official of the army clearly gives an impression that all the institutions in Pakistan are subservient to the armed forces, to follow its dictation and there is no respect for any other forum including the judiciary,” said the statement jointly issued by the council’s vice chairman Syed Amjad Shah and chairman of its executive committee Sher Mohammad Khan.
On Friday, the outgoing Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa, while addressing a full-court reference held to bid farewell to him on reaching superannuation, had rejected the allegation that he supported the special court order in the treason case and regretted that a malicious campaign has been initiated against him and the judiciary.
“I completely reject the allegations that I supported the special court order. The allegations are baseless and incorrect,” said the outgoing chief justice, explaining that as judges “we know the limits of our powers and we know that the truth will prevail”.
The former military ruler was sentenced to death for abrogating the constitution and imposing emergency in the country in November 2007.
In the detailed verdict, Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth, who headed the three-member special court bench, called for the “corpse” of former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf to be “dragged to D-Chowk” and “hanged for 3 days”. The other two judges, however, dissented from this view.
The para in particular was met with fury from the government as well as the army, with the the former announcing that it would file a reference against Justice Seth in the Supreme Judicial Council.
Meanwhile, the DG ISPR in a press conference had said that the verdict was against “humanity and religion”.