A court on Wednesday indicted Pervez Musharraf over the 2006 killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti, the latest legal hurdle facing the former military ruler since his return from self-imposed exile two years ago. The charges by the court in the south-western city of Quetta are unlikely to cause any immediate problems for the 71-year-old, who has not attended a single hearing in the case since it began in 2013.
“The anti-terrorist court has indicted Musharraf along with former interior minister Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao and former home minister (of) Balochistan province Shoaib Nosherwani in Nawab Akbar Bugti’s murder case,” public prosecutor Taimur Shah told AFP. Shah added the court would resume hearings in the case on February 4.
Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti was killed in a military operation in 2006, sparking deadly nation-wide protests and inflaming a separatist insurgency in resource-rich but impoverished Balochistan province. Musharraf has been staying with his daughter in Karachi where he travelled for tests at a navy-run hospital in April last year and the indictment took place in his absence.
He is on bail in four other major cases linked to his time in power including the 2007 assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto in a gun and suicide attack. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s authority has been eroded since a movement to topple him over alleged election fraud began last year, and analysts believe his government now lacks the will to offend the military by pushing for Musharraf’s prosecution.
Nawabzada Jamil Akbar Bugti, the son of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, had nominated the former president and other high-ups in the murder of his father. The Balochistan High Court had already issued arrest warrants for the accused persons. During hearing, Musharraf’s counsel Zeeshan Cheema submitted a medical report in the court, requesting the court to allow the former president exemption from appearance.
Sohail Rajput, the counsel for Jamil Bugti, contended that the former president was regularly giving interviews to different TV channels. Cheema requested the court to accept the exemption application of the former president. The court also expressed its displeasure over continuous absence of the former president from proceedings of the court. The court said Musharraf would be granted exemption from appearance in the court only after the medical board would apprise it about the former president’s health. The court adjourned the hearing till February 04. Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was killed in August 2006 in an explosion in a cave where he had taken refuge.