Zee Media Bureau
Islamabad: Beleaguered former military ruler Pervez Musharraf`s efforts to wriggle out of a treason case suffered a setback on Monday when a Pakistani court rejected his objections against the special court set up to try him while staying the ban on him traveling out of the country.
Justice Riaz Ahmad Khan of the Islamabad High Court dismissed three pleas filed by Musharraf`s lawyers against the constitution of the special court and the appointment of three judges and a state prosecutor to conduct his trial.
The special court has summoned the 70-year-old former army chief to appear before it tomorrow to face a charge of high treason for imposing emergency in 2007.
This is the first time in Pakistan`s history that a former military dictator is facing trial for treason. If convicted, Musharraf could face life imprisonment or the death penalty.
Musharraf had said in a petition that he promulgated emergency as the army chief and could only be tried by a military court.
He also objected to prosecutor Akram Sheikh, who has links with right wing parties and is known for his intense hatred of the former military ruler.
The judge rejected all these objections, clearing the way for Musharraf`s first appearance in the special court tomorrow.
`Cannot lift Pervez Musharraf travel ban`
Earlier in the day, a Pakistani court said it was unable to lift a travel ban on Musharraf, a day before his trial for treason is due to start.
Musharraf`s lawyer petitioned the Sindh High Court last month to remove the retired general`s name from an "exit control list" (ECL) so he could leave the country to visit his sick mother in Dubai.
The 70-year-old has faced a range of criminal cases since returning from self-imposed exile in March but there have been rumours a deal would be struck to let him leave the country, to avoid the all-powerful military being embarrassed by having its former chief tried by civilians.
Musharraf lawyer AQ Hallipota said the Sindh court in Karachi had ruled that as the government imposed the travel ban, it must decide on whether or not to lift it.
"A two-member bench of the Sindh High Court has ruled that it did not put Musharraf`s name on the ECL," AQ Halipota told .
He said the court asked the petitioner to contact the appropriate forum -- the government.
Musharraf has faced criminal cases dating back to his 1999-2008 rule since returning to Pakistan, including the murder of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
He was granted bail in the four main cases against him but remains under guard at his farmhouse on the edge of Islamabad because of threats by Taliban insurgents to his life.
Last month the government announced it would put him on trial for treason and he has been ordered to appear before a special court on December 24.
It will be the first time in Pakistan`s history that a former military ruler will face a treason trial.
Speaking publicly last week for the first time since being put under house arrest in April, Musharraf vowed to face justice and not flee the country.
London lawyers for Musharraf on Friday slammed the treason trial as politically motivated and urged the UN to intervene.
They also called on the US and Britain to "repay their debt" for Musharraf`s support in the US-led "war on terror" in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.