Non-bailable warrant against Mush; aide says he won''t appear

Rezaul H Laskar

Islamabad, Feb 12 (PTI) Days after former presidentPervez Musharraf was made an accused in the assassination offormer premier Benazir Bhutto, a non-bailable arrest warrantwas today issued against him to secure his presence in thecourt to stand trial.

Judge Rana Nisar Ahmed Khan of the Pakistanianti-terrorism court, conducting the trial of five suspectscharged with involvement in Benazir''s assassination, issuedthe warrant Musharraf.

The court made the move after Chaudhry Zulfiqar, theprosecutor for the Federal Investigation Agency, argued thatMusharraf should be declared an absconder for failing tocooperate in the investigation into the assassination.

The court directed Musharaf to appear before it atthe next hearing on February 19.

But, Musharraf''s legal advisor Muhammad Ali Saif toldPTI there was "no possibility" of the former Presidentappearing in court and said the court''s decision to issue awarrant was "politically-motivated".

Prosecutors told the court that further progress ininvestigating Bhutto''s assassination was not possible withoutMusharraf''s presence.

They said they had tried repeatedly to contactMusharraf but he had refused to cooperate.

They also said he should be declared a wantedfugitive if he did not appear for the next hearing.

The judge also considered statements by formerInterior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema and formerIntelligence Bureau chief Ejaz Shah, who said they had actedon Musharraf''s instructions in matters related to theassassination.

Cheema has told investigators that he was acting onMusharraf''s instructions when he announced at a newsconference shortly after the assassination that the Talibanwere behind the killing.

The FIA had named Musharraf as an "absconder" earlierthis week for failing to cooperate with investigators.

Talking to reporters shortly after the court issuedthe warrant, Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan said thegovernment would provide any sort of cooperation that wasrequested by the court.

"We will provide whatever help the court wants. We caneven contact the Interpol (regarding Musharraf)," she said.

"It is up to the court to decide what sort ofintervention or support it wants," Awan added. .

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