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Sindh High Court declares Musharraf 'proclaimed offender'

Former President Pervez Musharraf was today declared a proclaimed offender by Pakistan's Sindh High Court for non-appearance, in what could be a setback to his plans to stage a political comeback.

world Updated: Aug 10, 2010 21:13 IST

Former President Pervez Musharraf was on Tuesday declared a proclaimed offender by Pakistan's Sindh High Court for non-appearance, in what could be a setback to his plans to stage a political comeback.

A division bench of the Sindh High Court here headed by Chief Justice Sarmad Jalal Usmani issued the order against Musharraf for not appearing before it in connection with a petition filed by Maulvi Iqbal Haider of the Awami Himayat Tehreek seeking action against him for "disfiguring" the constitution and committing "high treason".

The development came a day before Musharraf, who is living in self-imposed exile, turns 67.

Haider, also an advocate, sought action against Musharraf and his aides, including advocate Sharifuddin Pirzada and former Attorney General Malik Abdul Qayyum, for "disfiguring the Constitution and committing high treason".

He has appealed the court to file conspiracy petition against Musharraf.

The court issued various notices to the former president, but he failed to appear.

"I requested the court in my second petition to assist me in publishing advertisement in British newspapers but this petition was not upheld," Haider said.

"I then requested the bench to declare Musharraf a proclaimed offender since I could not afford the cost of getting advertisements published in British newspapers," he said.

Several cases are pending against Musharraf in courts across Pakistan, and the UN enquiry commission's report also held his regime responsible for the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in December 2007.

Musharraf left the country in April 2009, eight months after he was forced to resign as President after the PPP-led coalition government came to power in March 2008.

However, the former military ruler has been trying to launch a political party to stage a comeback in Pakistani politics. Musharraf, who is currently based in London, has been maintaining that he was not in exile and that he would return to Pakistan soon.

Retired Pakistani Army General Rashid Qureshi, a close aide of Musharraf, had last month said the former President was planning to return to Pakistan and head the newly formed All Pakistan Muslim League.

Qureshi, who was the military and presidential spokesperson for Musharraf, has been in the forefront in setting up the APML.