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Musharraf Fails To Appear In Court

Supporters of former Pakistani president and military ruler Pervez Musharraf hold a rally.
Supporters of former Pakistani president and military ruler Pervez Musharraf hold a rally.
Former Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf has failed to appear in an Islamabad court for a hearing on his trial for high treason.

Lawyers for Musharraf, 70, requested a delay and pledged that he would come to court on February 18.

His lawyers argued that Musharraf's legal challenge against the formation of a special court in which he was to appear be resolved before he comes.

Musharraf has been in hospital in Rawalpindi since January 2, when he was taken there while on his way to court after complaining of chest pains.

His request to be allowed to seek medical treatment abroad was denied by the court last month.

Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup and was forced to leave office in 2008, could face the death penalty if convicted of high treason.

The case has increased tensions between Pakistan’s powerful army and its civilian government.

The latest warrant was issued last week. It alleges that Musharraf violated Pakistan’s constitution by imposing emergency rule in November 2007.

Musharraf has defended that decision as warranted.

Musharraf also faces an array of other charges related to his 1999-2008 rule, including in connection with the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in December 2007 and murder charges connected to a 2007 military raid on a fundamentalist mosque.

He has told journalists that the prosecution "smacked of a vendetta" by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government.

Sharif is the same politician that Musharraf ousted as prime minister when he came to power in a 1999 military coup.

After that coup, Sharif was tried for murder and treason and sent into lengthy exile.

Musharraf left Pakistan and lived in self-imposed exile for more than four years after a wave of protests forced him to resign as army chief, call new elections, and step down from office in 2008.

He returned to Pakistan in March in an attempt to make a political comeback. But instead, he found himself facing criminal charges.

With additional reporting by "Express Tribune," Reuters, and AP