Musharraf to face Trial?
By our correspondent, The News, March 4, 2008
LAHORE: Lawyers have planned to proceed against President Pervez Musharraf and other senior officials under Pakistan Penal Code’s sections 344, 348, 109, 134 and 506, and other laws for keeping under confinement the chief justice and his family for more than 120 days, said Supreme Court Bar Association President Aitzaz Ahsan on Monday.
Addressing a press conference at his Zaman Park residence, he said an FIR in the case would be drafted keeping in mind the section 248 that provides immunity to the president. “But, we will not let Musharraf get away with these crimes,” a charged Aitzaz said.
Flanked by fellow lawyers, he said they knew how far the section ibid protects the President and would contest it in the courts. The President would have to pay in accordance with law, he added.
Further, the SCBA president said, civil suits worth billions of rupees would also be filed against all the officials involved in keeping under detention judges and lawyers’ leaders. He said the damages would be recovered from the personal properties of the defendants ‘as we do not wish to burden the state’.
“These offences are cognizable and non-bailable,” he said, announcing similar FIRs would be registered for Justices Sardar Raza Khan, Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday, Falak Sher, Raja Fayyaz and others, who were not even allowed to offer Friday prayers in mosques.
About the plight of the deposed CJ’s detained family members, Aitzaz said, “For full four months, the children of the chief justice have not been allowed to step outside their home. The police set up camps on the lawns and have been sitting in the verandahs of their home, which is a heinous act.
“No king or sultan or Caesar or even pharaoh has ever committed such crimes like the ones committed by Musharraf against judiciary, who removed as many as 60 judges with one stroke of the pen.”
About lawyers’ proposed long march to Islamabad, he said the show had been delayed to give more time to the parliament yet to take up office. “It will be launched if required and all the deposed judges will accompany the lawyers in the demonstration,” he said. “We had one chief justice and one driver earlier, now we have 45 judges and thousands of drivers,” he added.
Aitzaz said retired judges Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui, Wajihuddin, Nasir Aslam Zahid, Fakhruddin G Ibrahim, Mamoon Qazi, former President Rafique Tarar, Zia Mehmud Mirza, Manzoor Sial and Ghulam Rabbani would also accompany the march.
“We will descend upon Islamabad from all sides in a peaceful manner,” he said. Dismissing that there were any legal complications in the reinstatement of judges, Aitzaz said the parliament did not require much time as the restoration of judges was just a phone call away; a call from the Interior Ministry to the inspector general of police to remove the barricades and policemen from the residences of judges and they would be back in the courts.
“We want the parliament to be empowered and we do not seek confrontation,” he said. “I would like to tell the MNAs-elect that we are their other arm and we are only against those forces that are resisting restoration of the deposed judges,” he added.
The SCBA chief said March 9 (Sunday) would be observed as a black day while a complete black flag week would be observed from March 9 to 16 as lawyers would ensure a shutdown on March 10 and 13. “We have planned for a telephonic address to the bars across the country by the CJ and me,” he said. “This call of the black week is limited to the legal community but civil society members and political parties who have been contacting us to play their roles are also welcome,” he added.
He praised the media’s role saying, “We would also like the continued support of the media in our struggle for restoration and independence of judiciary.” He asked journalists to defy the restraints clamped on media by PEMRA as top legal experts were willing to voluntarily take up legal action on behalf of the media.
Aitzaz said President Musharraf was on the threshold of his exit. He said the stance of lawyers was quite clear that all November 3 actions taken by Musharraf as army chief were illegal and unconstitutional. “Whoever says that judiciary cannot be restored without parliament is actually admitting that the November 3 act was constitutional,” he said.
“Musharraf needs a two-thirds majority to validate his acts and block restoration of the judiciary,” he said. He added the nation could not allow one person to strike down the constitution and remove judges. “If we let this go then tomorrow any military commander may go to the limits of arresting the members of parliament.”
Asked whether President Musharraf could be charged with treason under Article 6 of the constitution, Aitzaz said the President could be charged with treason if two-thirds majority failed to validate the steps taken on November 3.
To a question on lawyers’ appearance before PCO judges, he said, “We do not accept the PCO judges but lawyers have been attending their courts to save the masses from additional trouble.” He said the Supreme Court Bar Association would put in effect a new social contract to empower the parliament.
About the fate of the PCO judges, Aitzaz said it could be determined in view of the Al-jihad Trust case whereby the Supreme Court provided a mechanism to screen out the PCO judges. “Some will be retained while others will be screened out,” he said. He concluded that the reinstatement of the deposed judges was not a complex issue, and the legal fraternity would ensure in the coming days.