Pakistan’s former military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf (Retd.) has refused to appear before the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The Supreme Court issued notice on him to appear before the court in the case of a constitutional petition challenging the forced removal of two judges of the Sindh High Court.
The petition was filed by the Sindh High Court Bar Association against the illegal removal of two judges, who were not appointed under the emergency rule of retired general, Pervez Musharraf. On July 22, 2009, when the Supreme Court was about to deliver the final decision, the chief justice ruled that the court should hear Musharraf’s version of the events leading up to the forced removal in order to fulfil the requirements of justice.
On July 27, Musharraf or the panel of lawyers acting on his behalf were to be present before the court, but Musharraf preferred to remain absent from the proceedings and stopped his panel of lawyers from attending the court on the pretext that his name was not mentioned in the list of respondents, nor he was made an accused. In an interview to different television channels, former General Musharraf, challenging the notice of the court, said that there is no responsibility on his part to follow the notice issued by the Supreme Court.
Musharraf’s refusal to respond to a legal court notice is yet another demonstration of the arrogance of military personnel, whether still in service or retired. From this type of behaviour it is evident that they in no way respect the judiciary and rule of law. They behave as if military personnel are above every institution and are not accountable at any stage.
It is the responsibility of the government to follow the rule of law and make every citizen respect the highest judicial institution. If any arrogant general does not appear before a court of law it sends a message to the people and other military officers that the government has no authority in his own institutions. The constitution of Pakistan does not allow immunity to any officers of the armed forces, nor does allow them to refuse a notice of the Supreme Court.
The Asian Human Rights Commission urges to the government of Pakistan to use all means to bring former General Musharraf before the court for violating its instructions; even to the point of charging him with contempt of court. The violation of court instructions by a retired general not only challenges the authority of the court but also the authority of the government and it would become a precedent for any powerful person to challenge the authority of the state by following the example of a general.
July 29, 2009
A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.
Asian Human Rights Commission
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