Pakistan to try ex-president Musharraf for high treason
Islamabad – A special court here is scheduled to begin Tuesday trial of Pakistan’s former president Pervez Musharraf for abrogating the constitution. The trial is the first of a former military ruler in the country’s history.
Musharraf has been charged with suspending the constitution when he imposed Emergency in November 2007. Legal experts say the charges carry death penalty or life imprisonment.
A three-member special court will begin the trial at the building of National Library near the Supreme Court. The court has summoned Pervez Musharraf to appear before the judges drawn from a panel of judges of the country’s five high courts, reports Xinhua.
Musharraf’s lawyers had tried to stop Tuesday’s trial on the plea that the special court has no power to try a former army chief and that a military court can try him under the Army Act.
The Islamabad High Court, however, rejected the petition Monday, and that removed all obstacles in the way of Musharraf’s trial.
Legal experts are of the view that the government case is strong as Musharraf had himself admitted imposition of the Emergency rule at a televised address.
He, however, argued that he had taken the decision after being advised by then government that the security of the country had been threatened by some actions of then chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and some other judges of the superior judiciary.
Musharraf had also insisted that then elected prime minister Shaukat Aziz had recommended taking extra-constitutional measures of declaring the Emergency.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced in June the high treason case against the former military chief would be initiated for suspension of the constitution. The decision evoked mixed reaction as critics were of the view that Pakistan faces several serious challenges and cannot afford such a trial.
Musharraf took over in a bloodless coup when he dismissed the government of the prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 1999.
The 69-year-old former army chief currently lives in his farmhouse in Islamabad after he got bail in three high-profile cases, including the 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
Musharraf, who resigned in 2008 and went into exile, returned to the country in March this year to take part in parliamentary elections. However, a court disqualified him from standing in the May elections.