ISLAMABAD: Judges hearing treason charges against Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday adjourned his formal indictment to the end of the week after an official report said the former military ruler’s life was under threat.
The court was due to indict Musharraf on Tuesday over his 2007 imposition of emergency rule, but lead judge Faisal Arab exempted him from appearing until Friday after his lawyers presented an Interior Ministry report citing security threats. “We exempt him for today’s appearance but he should appear in court by Friday and all required security arrangements in the wake of this threat should be made by Friday,” Arab said.
The report, seen by AFP, said: “It seems that the terrorists have sympathisers in the security/cavalcade of (Musharraf) in order to assassinate him.” It added the plan may be executed through planted or vehicle-borne explosives, or even at the court in a manner “similar to the incident of Salmaan Taseer”, the Punjab governor who was shot dead by his own security guard in 2011 after demanding reform of the country’s blasphemy law. One of Musharraf’s lawyers was thrown out of the hearing after appearing to threaten a judge.
Advocate Rana Ijaz told Arab he had been threatened by gangsters for his work on the case, adding: “I have many supporters and if something happens to me they will take care of you.” Arab, who heads a three-member panel hearing the case, responded by having security escort Ijaz out. Due to the threats to Musharraf on the occasion of his appearance in the special trial court, around 150 personnel of the Punjab Police who were part of his security detail were replaced with army commandos.
Although Musharraf declined to appear in the court, around 1,600 armed police officers stood guard between Rawalpindi and Islamabad before his lawyers told the court that he would not appear in the court. In Islamabad, on the direction of IG Islamabad Sikandar Hayat, all the routes through which the former military ruler was to go were sealed. According to reports, the Islamabad police with the help of Rangers made extra arrangements on Tuesday on the Mall Road, Airport Road, Express Highway.
An additional contingent of security forces was deployed at the three routes through which Musharraf was to go to the court. Security arrangements were made for the 23-kilometre journey from the AFIC to the National Library in Islamabad and security was on high alert. Sources said that the relatives and lawyers of Musharraf advised him against attending the special court proceedings due to security reasons.
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