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Musharraf challenges arrest warrant in Lal Masjid case

Pervez Musharraf

Islamabad: Pakistan’s former president Pervez Musharraf has challenged the non-bailable arrest warrant against him by a court here in the 2007 Lal Masjid case for his repeated absence in the trial, saying he had to appear before a medical board on the day the warrant was issued.

The 71-year-old former dictator filed a petition in the Islamabad district and sessions court yesterday, requesting it to set aside the non-bailable arrest warrant it issued on Thursday for repeatedly failing to appear in the murder trial of Lal Masjid cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi.

In his petition, filed through advocate Malik Tariq, Musharraf said he had to appear before a medical board constituted to ascertain his health under the directions of a Quetta anti-terrorism court (ATC), where the Nawab Akbar Bugti murder case is pending adjudication, the Dawn reported today.

Musharraf contended in the petition that police had declared him innocent after a thorough investigation in the case and had placed his name in the investigation report, prepared under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and commonly known as the case challan, the report said.

A single-member bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) headed by Justice Noorul Haq N Qureshi is expected to hear the petition on Monday.

On Thursday, Islamabad district and sessions court judge Wajid Ali issued the warrant against the former president after rejecting his pleas for exemption from appearance.

The case was registered against Musharraf for the murder of the cleric and his mother during the Red Mosque operation of 2007. Ghazi was killed when army commandos stormed the mosque in the capital on Musharraf’s orders.

Musharraf was nominated in the case but he never appeared in court, citing health and security reasons.

In October 2013, police submitted a challan to the sessions court, declaring Musharraf innocent and left him at the mercy of the court.

The medical board has been asked to ascertain whether Musharraf is suffering from a disease and whether or not he is fit to travel. He has been accused of involvement in the killing of Baloch nationalist leader Bugti in 2006.

The former president is facing a slew of court cases after returning from five years of self-exile in Dubai to contest the general elections in 2013 which he lost.

Musharraf is already facing murder charges in the case of former premier Benazir Bhutto who was assassinated in 2007. He is on bail in the case.

He has also been indicted in a high treason case in March last year for suspending, subverting and abrogating the Constitution and imposing an emergency in Pakistan in November 2007, the first army chief to face such a prosecution. He has also been charged in the judges’ detention case.

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