Karachi: Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has been granted permanent exemption from court appearance in the murder case of Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti on health and security grounds.
An anti-terrorism court in Quetta, capital of the Balochistan province, has been trying several accused including Musharraf for killing of Bugti in army operation in 2006 when he was both the army chief and the president. Judge Aftab Ahmed Lone heard the case yesterday and accepted a request by Musharraf, the prime accused in the case, who had sought permanent exemption from appearance during court hearings. The court also granted exemption to another accused Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, former interior minister, from today’s appearance in the hearing. The hearing was adjourned till June 1. Bugti’s son Jamil Akbar had nominated Musharraf, former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, former Governor of Balochistan Owais Ahmed Ghani, ex-interior minister Sherpao and others for the murder.
Bugti, former chief minister of Balochistan and head of his tribe, was killed in 2006 in a military operation ordered by Musharraf who was president and army chief at the time. His killing sparked nationwide protests and further fuelled an armed insurgency that began in 2004 in Balochistan. Two co-accused — Musharraf’s then interior minister Sherpao and ex-provincial home minister Shoaib Nusherwani — were also indicted for their alleged role in the murder of the Baloch tribal leader. Nausherwani was present in the court today.
The trial has made little headway since 2009 when it started as Musharraf has not appeared even a single time in the court over health and security reasons. He was also absent when the charge-sheet was read out in the court. The indictment was the fourth against him. The ex-army chief is facing a slew of court cases after returning from five years of self-exile in Dubai to contest the general elections in 2013 which he lost. 77-year-old Musharraf is already facing murder charges in the case of former premier Benazir Bhutto who was assassinated in 2007. He is on bail in the case. He was also indicted in a high treason case in March last year for suspending, subverting and abrogating the Constitution and imposing an emergency in Pakistan in November 2007, the first army chief to face such a prosecution. He has also been charged in the judges’ detention case. Musharraf came to power in a bloodless coup in 1999, deposing then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Facing impeachment following elections in 2008, Musharraf resigned as president and went into self-imposed exile in Dubai.