The special court conducting Pervez Musharraf's treason trial today ordered the setting up of a medical board to assess the former Pakistani dictator's health condition after his lawyer said he should be sent to the US for treatment.
The board comprising doctors of the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) in Rawalpindi will have to ascertain 70-year-old Musharraf's condition and submit its findings to the court on January 24.
The special court set up to try Musharraf on high treason charges for imposing emergency in 2007 also exempted him from personal appearances till January 23.
"The court has asked the medical board to answer several questions. First is to find out whether Musharraf needs surgery or not. Second is to find out how long it will take for Musharraf to recover completely," Ahmed Raza Kasuri, a key member of the former president's legal team, told PTI.
The court's ruling came hours after Musharraf's lawyer Anwar Mansoor submitted a letter written by his US-based doctor Arjumand Hashmi, which said the former president should be sent to Paris Regional Medical Center in Texas for treatment.
Hashmi, who has treated Musharraf since 2006, stated that his medical reports show a significant amount of coronary artery disease which can result in a heart attack and lead to "significant cardiac mortality" if left untreated.
However, Kasuri said no decision has been made by Musharraf's family or aides about sending him abroad.
Another senior lawyer in Musharraf's legal team, Mohammad Ali Saif, said no application has been made to the court to send him to the US.
"We have not submitted any application seeking his treatment abroad. We have just presented a letter by Dr Arjumand Hashmi, who has been treating Musharraf earlier, to support the medical report that AFIC had presented," he said.
Musharraf skipped another hearing in the special court despite being warned to appear today. His lawyer said his client could not appear because of ill-health.
Prosecutor Akram Sheikh argued that the court summoned Musharraf six times but the accused did not appear before the bench which can be considered contempt of court.