SC bars Musharraf from contesting election after refusal to return to country

SC bars Musharraf from contesting election after refusal to return to country

LAHORE: Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on Thursday took back a conditional permission earlier granted to General (retd) Pervez Musharraf to contest the upcoming general election after his counsel informed that the former president will not return to the country today.

The former president's counsel informed a five-judge bench headed by Justice Nisar that Musharraf will not be able to return to the country today.

"Musharraf wants to return to the country but cannot owing to the current situation and Eid-ul-Fitr holidays," the former military chief's counsel told the bench during the hearing of a case filed by Musharraf in 2015 against the rejection of his nomination papers in the 2013 general election at SC's Lahore Registry.

The chief justice had earlier today inquired about Musharraf's intention to appear before the court.

“Find out if Musharraf will appear before court or not,” the chief justice ordered the deputy attorney general, adding that an update regarding the former president's appearance should be submitted in court at the earliest.

“The hearing was scheduled for 2:00pm today but we can wait if Musharraf will appear [before court],” Justice Nisar said. He observed that the court staff had to leave for Eid-ul-Fitr holidays.

A day earlier, the apex court had directed Musharraf to return to the country by 2:00pm today. 

On Wednesday evening, in a turnabout statement made five hours after the initial claim of Musharraf returning to Pakistan anytime during the next 24 hours, All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) Secretary-General Dr Amjad said the former president was unlikely to return to the country on Thursday (today).

Dr Amjad cited "difficulties in purchasing tickets back home" as the reason for low odds of the former military chief returning to the country.

The ex-president's passport, on the other hand, was still blocked as of reporting time, making his return today unlikely.

Musharraf was trying to get new dates from the courts, Dr Amjad added.

Earlier on Wednesday night, the party's secretary-general had said the APML leader's travel preparations were in the final stage. "We are reviewing the flight schedules," he said.

The Supreme Court on June 7 had ordered the former president to appear before it and assured he would not be arrested upon appearance.

Chief Justice Nisar had remarked that the apex court would pass an order ensuring authorities to not arrest Musharraf before his appearance in court.

"He [Musharraf] should come [to the court] if he is a commando. Like politicians, he should not keep claiming he will return."

The chief justice had further observed that the scrutiny of Musharraf's nomination papers for the upcoming General Election 2018 would not be allowed if he failed to return to Pakistan.