Pakistan's Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered former President Pervez Musharraf to return to the country by Thursday as it delivered a withering rebuke for his continued absence from court.
Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, who is heading a three-judge bench hearing Musharraf's appeal against the rejection of his nomination papers in the 2013 general elections, warned that if he does not show up in court by 2 p.m., a decision will be taken in absentia on his eligibility to contest elections, Geo News reported.
Last week, the Supreme Court had issued a directive permitting Musharraf to file his nomination papers for the July 25 general elections on the condition that he appear in person before the court on June 13 in Lahore.
The court had said that the fate of Musharraf's nomination papers would be subject to the final decision in the present case. It has also said that he would not be arrested upon appearance.
Although Musharraf's nomination papers for Chitral's seat were submitted earlier this week, the former military ruler did not appear in court on Wednesday despite orders that his national identity card and passport be unblocked in order to facilitate his travel.
Musharraf's lawyer informed the court that his client was willing to face the treason charges if he was given the guarantee to be protected.
"The Supreme Court is not bound to Musharraf's terms," Justice Nisar said. "We've already said that if Musharraf returns, he will be provided with security. We are not bound to also provide a written guarantee in this regard."
"If he doesn't return, the scrutiny of his nomination papers will not be permitted. He should come (to the court) if he is a commando," said the Chief Justice. "Like politicians, he should not keep claiming he will return."
Musharraf's lawyer also said that his client was ill and a medical board had to examine him. In response, Justice Nisar said: "Musharraf can come back to Pakistan in an air ambulance and we will order the constitution of a medical board."
The former President has not visited Pakistan since leaving for Dubai in March 2016.