Political parties in Pakistan have engaged in a war of words over former president Pervez Musharraf's "heart ailment", which again barred him from appearing in court to face treason charges Thursday, a media report said Friday.
A war of words broke out between the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on the one hand and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) on the other on the issue of the purported heart ailment of Musharraf Thursday, the Dawn newspaper reported.
Leaders of the PPP and PML-N issued statements against the former army chief while the MQM came up in his support.
After failing Wednesday to appear in the special court formed to try him on charges of high treason for the second time in 10 days, Musharraf was being taken to the court Thursday when he complained of a "heart problem" and was then shifted to the the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) in Rawalpindi.
According to media reports, the option of shifting Musharraf abroad for treatment was under consideration but a decision in this regard would be taken only after the release of his medical report.
PPP's patron-in-chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, son of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, in a message on his Twitter account said: "I can't believe this coward ever wore the uniform of our brave and courageous armed forces."
"All medical excuses must be verified by an independent board of doctors. I have an ouchy is no excuses (sic) to skip your treason case."
In response to Bilawal's remarks, MQM leader Muhammad Anwar said the statement of the PPP leader was disappointing and shocking for every Pakistani.
"Those who are calling Musharraf a coward should know that Bilawal's father and former president Asif Ali Zardari, in order to avoid his personal appearance in Swiss court, had submitted a medical certificate claiming that he was mentally unfit and thus could not attend the court proceedings," the daily quoted Anwar as saying.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, in a statement, said the government had not made any decision to send Musharraf abroad for medial treatment.
"If he is medically unfit, his lawyer should submit a medical certificate before the court," he said.
Musharraf's name is still on the list of those persons who cannot go abroad without the government's permission. A court has already turned down his request to remove his name from the Exit Control List and advised him to approach the government.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced in June the high treason case against the former military ruler would be initiated for suspending the constitution.
Musharraf took over in a bloodless coup when he dismissed the government of Nawaz Sharif in 1999.
The 70-year-old currently lives in his farmhouse in Islamabad after getting bail in three high-profile cases, including the 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
Musharraf, who resigned in 2008 and went into exile, returned to Pakistan in March this year to take part in parliamentary elections. However, a court disqualified him from standing in the May elections.