Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has not attended his hearing at the country’s Supreme Court after being ordered to face charges of treason.
The hearing on Monday arose from accusations that Musharraf had illegally dismissed senior judges in 2007, after they had opposed extending his presidency.
Musharraf declared emergency powers after removing the judges.
Al Jazeera’s correspondent Kamal Hyder, reporting from Islamabad, said Musharraf was represented by his lawyers after being given the option by the court to appear in person, or through his counsel.
Musharraf’s absence, however, did not prevent the petitioners from starting to argue their case against the retired general, which was an important development, our correspondent said.
“But it appears that Musharraf has chosen his timing very carefully.”
Lawyers are petitioning the Supreme Court to have the 69-year-old retired general put on trial for treason for subverting the constitution during his 1999-2008 rule.
The hearing was originally scheduled last week, but the judge granted Musharraf’s lawyers more time to answer the charges.
The current chief justice himself was reinstated six years ago, after being initially dismissed by Musharraf.
Musharraf returned to Pakistan in March 24 after four years of self-imposed exile to stand in the May 11 general election, which will mark the first democratic transition of power in the country’s 66-year history.
He has been approved to stand as a candidate in the remote northern area of Chitral, although a lawyer has pledged to contest that decision.
Musharraf has said he came home to “save” nuclear-armed Pakistan, which is afflicted by an economic malaise and near-daily attacks by the Taliban and other armed groups.
But he has received a lacklustre reception upon his return, our correspondent said.
He said Musharraf was even advised by some of his friends to stay in exile.
“Many people see him as a controversial ruler in the country,” he said. “So, even if he was to win a seat in the upcoming elections, he would find himself a lonely man in parliament”.
But first Musharraf has to survive his treason case, even before he can talk about politics, our correspondent said.