ISLAMABAD - The government is facing a deadline to make security-related arrangements for General (retired) Parvez Muharraf’s return, but the matter took a new turn when the Ministry of Defence distanced itself from the issue.

The defence ministry has informed Musharraf’s lawyer that it cannot give protection since the matter does not fall under its purview.

A Special Court hearing the high-treason case had directed the federal government to comply with its order regarding the arrest of former General Pervez Musharraf and attachment of his properties within and outside Pakistan by March 21.

A notification available with The Nation said, “I am  directed to refer to your application dated 13 March 2018 on Complaint 1 of 2013 (State Vs, Gen (retired) Pervez Musharraf) and to intimate that provision of security in the subject case does not fall under the purview of [the] Ministry of Defence.”

Talking to The Nation, Syed Akhtar Shah, lawyer of General (retired) Musharraf confirmed that the Defence Ministry had rejected his application seeking foolproof security on his arrival to appear before court.

On the other hand, the Interior Ministry had accepted his application and directed him to share the details of the former president’s arrival in Pakistan, he said.

The interior ministry sent a letter to Shah on 16th March, 2018 on the subject and said “It is again requested that the travel itinerary of General (retired) Pervez Musharraf, as well as his stay in Pakistan may be sent to this ministry at the earliest so that necessary foolproof security arrangements could be made for him well in time. Please send the requisite reply through Fax No. 051-9201472 as well as through WhatsApp to the undersigned.”

Earlier, on March 13, Musharraf’s lawyer sent applications to the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Interior, and said, “Without prejudice to all legal and constitutional remedies and immunities available to the applicant, request as following is submitted.”

“The applicant intend appearing in the court (Special Court, Islamabad, Established under Act XVII 0f 1976), thus he requests that foolproof security may kindly be made available to him for his arrival in Pakistan, appearance in the honourable court and safe return to his temporary residence in Dubai (UAE). Copies of the order on the subject are enclosed for necessary information/action please. The above request is made for the reasons that there are serious security threats which have been increased in manifolds,” the plea said.  “On 3-3-2014, there was terrorist attack in district court Islamabad in which many valuable lives were lost. Also in the month of August, 2016, there was very serious terrorist attack in Quetta, in which about 80 lawyers lost their lives/got seriously injured. Security conditions in the courts and otherwise have not yet improved,” it added.

Under the prevailing adverse circumstances and due to security and medical reasons, it is neither safe nor advisable for the applicant, General (retired) Pervez Musharaf travel to Pakistan at this junction of time, the request said.

“In view of the forgoing and in the light of information pertaining to security threats, which may be available in your office, foolproof security to applicant, (General (Retd) Pervaiz Musharraf) for his arrival in Pakistan, appearing in honorable court at safe return to his temporary residence in Dubai (UAE) may kindly be made available to him,” it said.