Supreme Court to hear Nawaz appeal against plane hijack conviction

May 12th, 2009 - 12:15 am ICT by IANS  

Nawaz Sharif Islamabad, May 11 (IANS) The Supreme Court is to hear former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s appeal against his conviction for “hijacking” a commercial airliner carrying then Pakistani Army chief Gen. Pervez Musharraf by attempting to prevent it from landing at Karachi.
Admitting the appeal for hearing, the court Monday also issued notice to the federal government asking it to state its views on the case.

Quoting sources, The News said the larger Supreme Court bench that is hearing Sharif’s appeal against an order barring him from from contesting elections would also hear his appeal in the hijack case.

Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Haris argued in court that the appeal in the hijacking case could not be filed on time since the former prime minister was deported twice soon after the apex court had delivered its verdict in the case.

According to Haris, Nawaz Sharif was the prime minister and defence minister of Pakistan at the time and had the authority to pass orders to divert Musharraf’s aircraft due to an emergency situation.

Fearing a military coup, Sharif had Oct 12, 1999, dismissed Musharraf as army chief and appointed Ziauddin Butt, then the head of spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in his place.

Musharraf was then in Colombo and boarded a commercial flight home. Sharif then ordered the runway at Karachi airport to be barricaded to prevent the plane from landing.

The military, however, disregarded Sharif’s orders, refused to accept Musharraf’s sacking, took over Karachi airport and cleared the barricades.

The plane eventually landed with reportedly only a few minutes of fuel on board.

Immediately on his return Musharraf staged a bloodless military coup and toppled Sharif’s elected government.

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