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Musharraf defies apex court summons for second day

July 30, 2009 13:51 IST
Pakistan's Supreme Court could initiate "high treason" proceedings against former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who failed to appear before it for the second day in running on Thursday, a close legal aide of the former President fears.

Malik Qayyum, who was attorney-general under Musharraf regime and has often advised him on the legal issues, said, "It (Supreme Court) can initiate high treason proceedings against Musharraf on its own. I don't know what the apex court will do," he said.

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Musharraf defied the court summons by not appearing in the court himself or by sending anyone to represent him on Thursday, the second day of the court hearing. The former president is presently staying in London.

The Supreme Court had issued summons to him last week to appear in court or send a representative to explain his actions in imposing emergency in 2007 and his sacking of dozens of judges including Chief Justice Iftikhar M Chaudhary.

His non-appearance, legal experts said, could lay the groundwork for future action against him. "The Supreme Court has full authority to declare the November 3 (2007) proclamation (of emergency) and the subsequent acts unconstitutional," Qayyum told The News daily on Wednesday after a 14-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Chaudhary heard the case in which Musharraf had been asked to explain his actions.

Neither Musharraf nor members of his legal team appeared in the apex court during Wednesday's proceedings. The notice issued to Musharraf was not binding and a member of his legal team claimed the former President had not received it.

"Unless we receive the notice and come to know about the issue for which Musharraf has been asked to explain his position, we will not be in a position to say anything in the court. Till then, there is no point in appearing before the court," said Fawad Chaudhry.

Chaudhry said he, Abdul Hafiz Pirzada, Khalid Ranjha and Saif Ali Khan are members of Musharraf's legal team. Pirzada and Khan are in London to advise Musharraf on legal matters.

After receiving the notice, Musharraf's legal team will decide whether to accept the constitutionality and legality of the current apex court and "whether it has the powers to hear the case" about the emergency, Chaudhry said.

A staffer of the Supreme Court visited Musharraf's farmhouse at Chak Shahzad in Islamabad to serve the notice shortly after it was issued on July 22. Persons present there refused to accept it.

During Wednesday's proceedings, Chief Justice Chaudhry asked, "Is somebody appearing on behalf of General Musharraf?"

Even Qayyum, who was in the present in the courtroom, remained silent.

Qayyum said, "Musharraf didn't accept my advice (to defend himself in the apex court) and rather accepted (senior lawyer) Abdul Hafiz Pirzada's counsel not to appear before the court."

Other sources said Pirzada had advised Musharraf to take the stand that the apex court has no legal status to review his action of imposing emergency and subsequent orders, which are now part of the constitution.

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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