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Pakistan SC summons Pervez Musharraf

By Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
July 22, 2009 13:50 IST
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Pakistan's Supreme Court on Wednesday asked former President Pervez Musharraf to appear before it and issued notice to him to explain his action of imposing emergency in November 2007 and deposing over 60 members of the country's superior judiciary.

A 14-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry issued the notice while reviewing a decision made by Musharraf's hand-picked judges that validated the emergency and the sacking of the judges.

The bench asked Musharraf to appear in person or through counsel on July 29, the date for the next hearing of the matter.

Musharraf's close aide and former Attorney General Malik Qayyum told media persons that if the former President sought his advice, he would tell him to get a lawyer to represent him in the apex court.

Musharraf is currently in Britain. The former army chief left Pakistan over three months ago, saying he intended to travel to several countries to deliver lectures and address leading think tanks.

Over the past few months, he has visited Saudi Arabia, the US and several European countries.

The issue of the emergency and sacking of judges came up while the apex court was hearing a constitutional petition seeking the regularisation of services of two judges of the Sindh High Court. The case was later adjourned by the court till July 29.

The apex court witnessed a detailed debate on the emergency and its fall-out on the judiciary during Wednesday's proceedings. Chief Justice Chaudhry remarked that the principles of natural justice cannot be met if Musharraf is not issued a notice to participate in the proceedings.

Chaudhry and other members of the bench said the court could not make any adverse comment or decision against Musharraf if he was not made party to the proceedings.

Attorney General Latif Khosa said the government would not defend the former President, including his action of imposing emergency.

The influential lawyers' movement has accused Musharraf of abrogating the constitution by imposing emergency on November 3, 2007. Legal experts have described Musharraf's action as being tantamount to "martial law".

Musharraf imposed emergency and sacked over 60 members of the superior judiciary, including Chief Justice Chaudhry, as he feared the apex court could set aside his re-election for a second five-year term because he had contested polls without hanging up his military uniform.

He resigned in August last year in order to avoid impeachment by the Pakistan People's Party-led ruling coalition.

The government has not taken any action against Musharraf for imposing emergency as he continues to be backed by the powerful army.

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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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