Treason trial takes tricky turn: government asked to add Shaukat, Zahid, Dogar to charge-sheet

In a highly significant development, a special court trying former army chief and President Pervez Musharraf on high treason charges on Friday issued directives to federal government to include the names of the then Prime Minister, Shaukat Aziz, the then Federal Law Minister, Zahid Hamid, and the then Chief Justice of Pakistan, Abdul Hameed Dogar, as co-accused in the case.

Announcing its verdict in response to a defence’s plea for inclusion of more than 600 individuals, including the then top military brass, federal cabinet and members of the National Assembly or to dismiss the government complaint against Musharraf under high treason charges, the Special Court directed the government to submit an amended statement of the co-accused within a fortnight. A three-member bench of a special court led by Justice Faisal Arab and comprising Justice Tahira Safdar and Justice Muhammad Yawar Ali had reserved its judgement in response to a plea of the defence counsel.

Two judges accepted the defence’s plea, albeit partially. The third judge, Justice Muhammad Yawar Ali, however gave a dissenting note. Justices Faisal Arab and Justice Tahira Safdar while referring to an excerpt from the court’s 7th March, 2014 order in the current matter ruled that the involvement of any other person in the matter would depend on the evidence on record.

The two judges also referred to the 5 May 2014 order of the court which stipulated that “the decision to implicate any other person would depend on what material comes on record in the shape of documents, extrajudicial statements and oral evidence and the evidence so produced might then connect any other person with the commission of the crime.

“In such eventuality others, if any, can be implicated and tried along with the accused and this court has ample power to do so,” Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Tahira Safdar ruled. The two judges further stated: “We fail to understand why investigators did not identify others when they found material during the investigation, which in their opinion connected others as well with the November 3 action”.

“Though the courts are not to interfere with the manner in which investigation is carried out, but when selective or inconclusive investigations pointed out to a court, it becomes necessary to interfere to correct the wrong – a criminal investigation should not leave an impression that it was intended to find incriminating evidence only against a particular person or has deliberately excluded others who might be involved in the commission of the crime,” the verdict said.

Justice Yawar Ali said that there is nothing on record to show that Musharraf acted on a constitutional advice rendered to him while imposing the November 3, 2007 emergency in the country. He cited a 2009 apex court verdict in response to identical constitutional petitions and 2013 civil review petitions in which Musharraf’s counsel admitted before the Supreme Court that the order proclaiming the emergency was passed by his client. In addition, after imposing emergency, Musharraf in his address to the nation, stated that after reviewing the situation and consulting with members of the army, government, politicians and friends – both within the country and abroad – he himself took the decision to impose emergency. The hearing of case was adjourned till December 9.