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Lawyers’ Body Objects to Criticism of Musharraf Verdict

by Newsweek Pakistan
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Farooq Naeem—AFP

In statement, leadership of Pakistan Bar Council says law provides avenues of appeal, revision of any flawed judgments

A top lawyers’ body on Thursday issued a statement condemning the ongoing criticism of the high treason ruling handed down to former Pakistan Army chief Gen. Pervez Musharraf by a special three-member court.

In a statement attributed to Pakistan Bar Council Executive Committee Vice-Chairman Syed Amjad Shah and Chairman Sher Muhammad Khan, the body specifically hit out at Pakistan Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor and his “insulting attitude” toward the judiciary. “We strongly condemn and disapprove the statement of Director General, ISPR, who has criticized the judgment of the special court where under the ex-Chief of the Army Staff and former President of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf has been convicted for violating Article 6 of the Constitution of Pakistan and committing high treason,” it said, adding the spokesman’s statement amounted to “contempt of court.”

“If there are some flaws in the judgment 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,” it said, adding, “but the manner and the way, in which, the judgment of the special court has been criticized 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.”

The statement went on to allege that the belligerent attitude resulting from the conviction of the former military dictator by the federal government, its ministers, law officers, and the Attorney General of Pakistan proved “the party in power has been installed by the Army and its institution is on the driving seat and that’s why they are also criticizing the judgment in the same tune and tenor.”

The council said it felt compelled to strongly condemn this “insulting attitude” toward the judiciary and the constitutional process of dispensation of justice.”

On Tuesday, a special court sentenced former president Musharraf to death under Article 6 of the Constitution over his abrogation of the Constitution when he declared a state of emergency on Nov. 3, 2007. Both the military and the government have criticized the judgment, claiming due process was not followed as Musharraf was not allowed to submit a personal statement and was tried in absentia. In its detailed verdict, the court noted this, and cited an earlier judgment of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, in which the top court had found that a trial could proceed without the personal involvement of a proclaimed offender so long as they were provided with adequate representation.

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