Pervez Musharraf’s hope of staging a political comeback by contesting the July 25 polls was quashed on Thursday when Pakistan’s Supreme Court withdrew the conditional permission given earlier to the former dictator after he failed to appear before it.
Musharraf, the former military ruler has not returned to Pakistan since leaving for Dubai in March 2016 on the pretext of medical treatment.
The All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) chairperson had filed his nomination from the northern district of Chitral after the court last week allowed him to contest next month’s general election but made it conditional on his appearance before it on June 13 in a case linked to his lifelong disqualification by the Peshawar High Court in 2013.
Chief Justice Saqib Nisar on Thursday had rebuked the former army chief for “cowardice”, taunting him for not appearing in court and had told him to appear by 2 pm on Thursday.
During the hearing, his counsel Qamar Afzal informed the four-member bench of the apex court that he had spoken to Musharraf and he was determined to return. But Musharraf said it was not possible for him to come immediately.
Afzal pleaded that Musharraf needs more time to appear before the court owing to the “current situation [in the country]” and Eidul Fitr holidays. He also claimed that Musharraf was ill.
It prompted the chief justice to adjourn the hearing for an indefinite period, saying the next hearing will be held when the petitioner was ready for it.
“Alright, we’ll adjourn the court hearing till indefinite time period, will hold it on your wish,” the judge observed.
But the chief justice ordered the withdrawal of the conditional permission for Musharraf to contest elections.
Earlier Musharraf’s APML said on Twitter that “preparations for his return were in the final stage”. It was not clear why the plan was changed within hours after it was announced.
Musharraf is wanted in Pakistan in several high-profile cases.
He is facing a high-profile treason case and has been declared an absconder due to his persistent failure to appear before the special trial court set up to try him.
The former president was indicted in March 2014 on treason charges for imposing an emergency in the country which led to the confinement of a number of superior court judges in their houses and sacking of over 100 other judges.
A conviction for high-profile treason carries the death penalty or life imprisonment.
Musharraf has sought adequate security from the government for his return to appear in court in the treason case.
Musharraf, who ruled Pakistan from 1999 to 2008, has been declared a fugitive in the Benazir Bhutto murder case and Red Mosque cleric killing case.
In April 2013, the Peshawar High Court had disqualified him for life, holding him ineligible to contest elections. It also dismissed his appeal against his disqualification.