Supporters of former Pakistani president and military ruler Pervez Musharraf hold banners amd shout slogans during a rally in Peshawar, Pakistan, February 7, 2014. -EPA
ISLAMABAD: A court trying Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf for treason Friday ordered him to appear on February 18, the latest postponement in the long-delayed case.
The 70-year-old is facing treason charges, which can carry the death penalty, over his imposition of a state of emergency in 2007 while he was president.
He was first ordered before the tribunal on December 24 but has yet to put in an appearance, with bomb scares and health problems keeping him away.
The former general has been in a military hospital since falling ill with heart trouble while travelling to court on January 2.
On January 31 the court refused to grant him permission to go abroad for medical treatment and ordered him to appear on Friday.
But at Friday's hearing Judge Faisal Arab accepted a request from Musharraf's lawyers that he be excused until February 18.
The next hearing in the case will be on February 10, but Musharraf is not required to attend.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was the man Musharraf ousted from power in his 1999 coup, and his lawyers have said the treason case is an attempt to settle old scores through the courts.
They have also challenged the civilian court's right to try a former army chief, saying he is entitled to be dealt with by a military tribunal.
Security analyst Talat Masood, himself a former general, said Musharraf's failure to answer the court's call was degrading.
"He is giving an impression that he is defying law of the land and he is trying to run away from the rule of law," Masood told AFP.
"This is not a gentlemanly behaviour. His conduct should be more of an officer and a gentleman than a defiant person."
Musharraf has endured a torrid time since returning to Pakistan in March last year on an ill-fated mission to run in the general election.
Almost as soon as he landed he was barred from contesting the vote and hit with a barrage of legal cases dating back to his 1999-2008 rule.
The charges against him include the murder of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in December 2007.
So far, nothing has come of rumours that a backroom deal would be struck to get Musharraf out of the country before trial, to avoid a destabilising clash between the government and the powerful armed forces. -AFP