ATC rejects plea of Musharraf’s wife
RAWALPINDI: Only a few weeks before the possible return to country of former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf, an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Saturday rejected the application filed by his wife against declaring her husband a proclaimed offender in Benazir Bhutto murder case.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in February 2011 had implicated the former president in the Benazir murder case and on February 12 ATC Judge Rana Nisar Ahmed issued non-bailable warrants of arrest of Mr Musharraf after his failure to appear before the court.
In May 2011, the same judge declared him a proclaimed offender and on June 11 he issued perpetual warrants for his arrest.
On August 27, ATC Judge Shahid Rafique ordered for confiscation of moveable and immovable properties of Mr Musharraf and seized his 11 bank accounts.
The court had proceeded under Section 88 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) for the attachment of the properties — a farmhouse in Chak Shahzad, a plot in Singhar Housing Colony, Gwadar, and bank accounts mentioned in a letter of the State Bank of Pakistan dated June 23, 2011.
Through her lawyer Sehba Musharraf in September 2011 challenged the court order declaring her husband a proclaimed offender and requested the release of the attached properties.
During the hearing, her lawyer Ilyas Siddiqui told the court that Musharraf had been declared a proclaimed offender in a hasty manner while he was abroad for some important engagements.
It had been settled by the apex court that a person could not be declared absconder under Section 87 of the CrPC if he had already left the country, he added.
He claimed that all the proceedings against Gen Musharraf were unlawful, without jurisdiction and against the principle of natural justice.
Mr Siddiqui pointed out that Islamabad High Court in October last year had admitted the petition for regular hearing regarding the ownership of the Chak Shahzad farmhouse and the court, after hearing the arguments of Mrs Musharraf’s lawyer, had issued a stay order in this matter.
According to the petition, Gen Musharraf resigned from the office of the president on August 18, 2008, and remained involved in social and family engagements till March, 2009. He kept travelling in and out of Pakistan and during all this time not a word was uttered by anybody about his involvement in the high-profile murder case.
It said the court committed an error wherein the titles of the above referred properties were not examined carefully. As a matter of fact, the farmhouse in Chak Shahzad belonged to the petitioner and the order for their attachment was liable to be withdrawn on this ground.
Out of the 11 bank accounts four were joint accounts and the court could not freeze these accounts, he added.
FIA’s special prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali told the court that freezing of the 11 bank accounts was legal as Mrs Musharraf was a housewife, and was dependent on her husband.
He said that Gen (retd) Musharraf owned Rs110 million in 11 bank accounts, including four joint accounts and being a housewife it was not possible for Ms Musharraf to arrange such a huge amount on her own, adding that during the hearing her lawyer never disclosed her own source of income.
He pointed out that being a proclaimed offender Gen Musharraf would not be entitled for any relief unless he surrendered before any court of competent jurisdiction.
He contended that Mrs Musharraf was seeking relief for a fugitive and in the light of various judgments of superior judiciary her petition was not maintainable.
Chaudhry Zulfiqar told Dawn that Gen Musharraf would be arrested on arrival before or after the formation of a caretaker set-up. He said the ATC had issued perpetual warrants for his arrest and he could not evade the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) which demanded his immediate arrest.
According to him, Gen Musharraf would be treated in accordance with the relevant sections of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997 and after his arrest he would be produced before the court.
He, however, said the former president would avoid an arrest if he managed to obtain a protective/transitory bail from any high court.