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November 8, 2011 Special Dispatch No. 4260

High Court Orders Pakistani Government to Seek Extradition of Former Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf

November 8, 2011
Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 4260


Former Pakistan Army chief General Pervez Musharraf

Over the past few years, former Pakistan Army chief and former president General Pervez Musharraf has avoided returning to Pakistan over continuing fears that he might be arrested in connection with several court cases regarding his military coup and imposition of martial law, treason charges connected to the subversion of the Pakistani constitution and dismissal of the higher judiciary, the assassination of Baluchi elder Nawab Akbar Bugti in a military operation, and others.[1]

Of all the incidents, the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti in a Pakistan Army operation on August 26, 2006, when General Pervez Musharraf was also the army chief, has attracted the most attention. Bugti was killed along with his 35 comrades in the military operation. General Musharraf, who lives in London and Dubai and frequently travels to the U.S., has ignored court orders for his arrest. Despite launching a political party from London and declaring his intention to return to Pakistan, General Musharraf has consistently failed to return.

In Baluchistan province, lower courts have issued arrest warrants for Musharraf over the murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti in the military operation. In Sindh province, the High Court declared Musharraf an absconder – and ordered his arrest – due to his failure to appear in court despite several notices, in cases connected to his alleged misuse of authority in the country.[2] Recently, the Balochistan High Court directed the Pakistani government to seek Musharraf's extradition. However, there is no extradition treaty between Pakistan and the UK that could facilitate his arrest, while there are fears that the powerful military might not want its former chief arrested.

Following are excerpts from a report[3] and an editorial[4] in the Pakistani media on the subject:

The Express Tribune Report, November 2, 2011:

"The Balochistan High Court (BHC) has Directed the Federal Government to Seek Extradition of Former President Pervez Musharraf, Former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz…"

"The Balochistan High Court (BHC) has directed the federal government to seek the extradition of former President Pervez Musharraf, former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and others accused in the Nawab Akbar Bugti murder case who are currently not residing in Pakistan. 'The federal government is directed to seek extradition of those accused who reside in treaty states whose arrest warrants have been issued by the competent court of law,' the bench ordered.

"The court also directed that minutes of federal and provincial cabinet meetings that were held when Bugti was killed should be collected. The bench, comprising Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Abdul Qadir Mengal, issued directives before disposing off the petition filed by Nawabzada Jamil Akbar Bugti, the oldest surviving son of Nawab Akbar Bugti.

"Copies of arrest warrants for Musharraf and Aziz were submitted before the BHC. Jamil [Akbar Bugti] had stated in his petition that the murder case was not being investigated 'properly,' since no efforts had been made to record statements or arrest the accused nominated in the FIR [first information report] registered at the Dera Bugti Police Station…."

"Deputy Attorney-General Malik Sikandar submitted Aziz's statement…, in which he had said that he was 'used as a tool' by then President Musharraf and had nothing to do with the Bugti murder case. However, it stated, he will extend his cooperation to the court during investigations."

"Other Accused… Include Former Baluchistan Governor Owais Ghani, Former Federal Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao, and Former Chief Minister and Sitting… [Lawmaker] Jam Mir Mohammad Yusuf"

"Recently, arrest warrants were issued for not only Musharraf and Aziz, but also former home minister and sitting Member of Provincial Assembly Shoaib Ahmed Nosherwani of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid [party]. Other accused who are nominated in the FIR include former Baluchistan Governor Owais Ghani, former federal Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao, and former Chief Minister and sitting Member of National Assembly [Pakistani parliament] Jam Mir Mohammad Yusuf…."

"Ghani, who was then governor [of Baluchistan], also submitted a reply and stated that although he was the constitutional head of Baluchistan, he was unaware of the military operation until it took place. 'There may have been talks between the federal and provincial government[s] about the operation but I do not know about them,' he stated.

"Sherpao's statement said that he was in Peshawar when Bugti was killed and only came to know of the murder through government and media sources. 'Jamil nominated me as an accused just because I was interior minister at the time,' he said…."

The Express Tribune Editorial, October 31, 2011

"Three Years May have Passed Since General Pervez Musharraf was Forced from Power But Even Now the Task of Recovering from His Decade-Long Reign is Far from Over"

"Three years may have passed since General Pervez Musharraf was forced from power, but even now the task of recovering from his decade-long reign is far from over. Justice, for one, has yet to be served to a man who tried hard to pervert the course of justice through his meddling in judicial matters. This is the key to understanding why a local magistrate in Baluchistan has just issued arrest warrants for Musharraf and former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz among others for the murder of Akbar Bugti.

"Of course, these warrants should have been issued a long time ago, especially given that both respondents are no longer in Pakistan. But it makes us feel better knowing that those who hurt this country through their illegitimate rule are not likely to come back thanks to the courts.

"Reasonable people may disagree about whether the military action Musharraf took against Bugti constituted murder. What no one can deny is that Bugti's killing reignited the uprising in Baluchistan and contributed greatly to the rise of separatist sentiment in the province. For that, Musharraf should have to face the music. His actions are made all the more galling by the fact that he had no mandate to carry out this operation."

"The Sad Fact Is That Musharraf Will Never Be Held Fully Accountable For the Damage He did To the Country"

"The upshot of his dictatorial rule is that even when he undertook military and police operations against militants, as was the case in Lal Masjid [i.e. the 2007 military operation in Islamabad's Red Mosque], it led to far more anger than when civilian governments did the same thing.

"The sad fact is that Musharraf will never be held fully accountable for the damage he did to the country. Despite his repeated assertions that he will return to Pakistan any day now, the truth is that he is unlikely to leave his comfortable life in London, where he gets paid to pontificate on politics and deliver diatribes against those politicians who actually have a public to answer to.

"As for Shaukat Aziz, he flew into the country when he was offered a position of power and he flew right out when the party was over…."



Endnotes:

[1] For a list of charges against him, see http://tribune.com.pk/multimedia/videos/61970/.

[2] www.tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), August 10, 2010.

[3] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), November 2, 2011. The English has been lightly edited for clarity.

[4] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), October 31, 2011.

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