Musharraf promised to accommodate me: Chaudhry

Islamabad: Pakistan’s sacked chief justice has recalled his “forced stay” at the army headquarters on March 9 when President Pervez Musharraf, in the presence of the top army brass, promised to “accommodate” him if he resigned.

In an affidavit filed on his behalf before the Supreme Court, Iftikar Mohammad Chaudhry has revealed the inside story of the “forced stay” when he was forced to spend five hours with intelligence operatives after he refused to quit, Daily Times said Wednesday.

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Chaudhry recalls that he reached Rawalpindi’s Army House at 11.30 a.m. with his protocol staff.

“Five minutes later, President Musharraf came into the room in his military uniform along with his military secretary and ADC. A number of TV cameramen and photographers were also called in. The president told him about a complaint against him by a Peshawar High Court judge and some other complaints.

“Then he directed his staff to call other persons including his chief of staff (COS), the prime minister, chiefs of the Military Intelligence (MI), Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) and another official.

“All officials, except the IB chief and the COS, were in uniform,” Chaudhry said.

Chaudhry said that the president read out the allegations against him from small pieces of paper, as there was no consolidated document, and the allegations were based on a “notorious letter” written by lawyer Naeem Bukhari.

Chaudhry said he was accused of being “driven in a Mercedes”, to which he retorted: “Here is the prime minister (Shaukat Aziz). Ask him, he had sent the car himself.

“On this, the PM did not reply even by gesture,” Chaudhry said in his affidavit, adding that he was allowed to go home “unceremoniously” after being divested of his judicial powers and his official vehicle was stripped of the national flag and official insignia.

Chaudhry said that his chamber was sealed by intelligence agencies and that the newly appointed court registrar “gave some important files to the ISI (the Inter-Services Intelligence)”.

The affidavit supplements his constitutional petition against the presidential reference against him.

However, the affidavit, filed under oath by Chaudhry’s counsel Aitzaz Ahsan, did not appear to meet with the approval of the 13-judge full bench of the apex court that is hearing a clutch of petitions against the suspension on a day-to-day basis.

When Ahsan told the court about the filing of the affidavit on Tuesday, judge Khalilur Rehman Ramday, who heads the full court, said he should not have done so, BBC Urdu reported.

Chaudhry’s suspension has triggered a nationwide agitation that took a violent turn on May 12 in Karachi, resulting in 48 deaths.

The suspended judge has been touring the country addressing bar council meetings, even as lawyers, joined by opposition parties, have been holding daily demonstrations.