The special court trying former Pakistani dictator General Pervez Musharraf for high treason ordered authorities to produce him before it tomorrow after he failed to turn up for a hearing today after a bomb was found near his house.
Musharraf, 70, was supposed to appear before the court to face trial in a high treason case that could put to test the relationship between an assertive civilian government and the powerful army.
The former military ruler is accused of suspending, subverting and abrogating the Constitution, imposing an emergency in the country in November 2007 and detaining judges of the superior courts. If convicted, Musharraf could face life imprisonment or the death penalty.
Musharraf could not come to the court today as a one kg bomb was recovered near his house from the route he was scheduled to take.
This is the second time when a bomb was found on his route to the court. On December 24, Musharraf could not appear before the court after a five kg bomb was recovered from his route to the court.
On December 30, five packets of explosives were found near Musharraf's sprawling Chak Shahzad farmhouse here.
Today, the three-member bench began the hearing without the former President's presence and ordered authorities to produce Musharraf before it tomorrow. The court also warned of issuing a ruling in case he failed to appear before it for the next hearing.
Musharraf's counsel Ahmed Raza Kasuri said his client could not appear for the proceedings due to security threats. He cited the recovery of explosive material near Musharraf's house.
Kasuri said even the judges face life threat if any blast occurred outside the court. Then Musharraf's lawyers submitted an application to exempt him from appearing before the court today and to adjourn the case for a period of five weeks.
The application said that Musharraf had imposed emergency on November 3, 2007 in his capacity as the country's military chief, adding that he could only be tried by a military court. Kasuri said that Musharraf's security is of prime importance and if anything happened to him, the court will be blamed for it.
Kasuri then mentioned the blast that had occurred outside the Iran's Parliament that killed hundreds of people and added that even the lives of the judges are in danger if any blast occurred outside the court.
Hearing this, Justice Faisal Arab, heading the bench, said courts operate during wars as well, and 'the special court' will continue to function despite threats.
Meanwhile, prosecutor Akram Sheikh told the court that fool-proof security arrangements have been made, a statement backed by DIG Security Jan Mohammad.
Justice Faisal asked if the government has provided bomb proof vehicle to Musharraf. On this, the DIG security replied that they have bullet proof vehicle but no bomb proof car.
This is the first time in Pakistan's history that a former military dictator is facing trial for treason.
His trial is taking place at the National Library here which is the heavily secured Red Zone here that houses all important institutions like the Prime Minister's House, Supreme Court and the Diplomatic Enclave.