Another Pak court summons Musharraf

Islamabad: A Pakistani court today issued a notice summoning former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in connection with a case of political violence in Karachi that resulted in the death of at least 50 people on May 12, 2007.

A two-judge division bench of the Sindh High Court summoned Musharraf, currently living in self-exile in London and Dubai, to appear before the court on April 7.

The bench directed authorities to get the summons printed in newspapers in London. The bench forwarded the case to the Chief Justice of the High Court with the recommendation that a larger bench should be constituted to hear it.

On May 12, 2007, at least 50 people were killed when political activists fought pitched battles on the streets of Karachi ahead of the arrival of Iftikhar Chaudhry, the current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

At that time, Chaudhry had been deposed by Musharraf and was touring the country to seek support from lawyers and political parties for his restoration.

Chaudhry was scheduled to address the silver jubilee celebrations of the Sindh High Court Bar Association and several parties, including the Pakistan People`s Party, Jamaat-e-Islami and Awami National Party, had organised a rally in his support.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement organised a separate rally and roads leading to the airport and Sindh High Court were blocked. Fierce clashes and gun battles erupted between supporters of the rival parties and Chaudhry was forced to return from the Karachi airport without addressing the rally.

Several petitions and a suo motu case were taken up by the Sindh High Court but proceedings were closed by judges loyal to Musharraf when he imposed an emergency in late 2007. After Musharraf resigned as President the following year, applications for restoring the cases were filed.

During today`s proceedings, Justice Shahid Anwar said the case could not be heard by a two-judge bench as it was taken up in the past by larger benches. The division bench thus recommended that a larger bench should be formed to deal with the case effectively.

The court`s order came three days after Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that the government would bring Musharraf back to Pakistan through Interpol to face trial for his alleged role in failing to provide adequate security to former premier Benazir Bhutto at the time of her assassination in 2007.

Malik said several notices had been served on the former dictator through the Pakistan High Commission in London and now the government would seek Red Corner Notices from Interpol to bring him back to Pakistan.

Musharraf has denied allegations that he was in any way involved in the assassination of Bhutto and said he was willing to face the courts.