High treason: Musharraf challenges special court’s verdict

95

Former military dictator General (retd) Pervez Musharraf on Friday moved the Lahore High Court against special court’s verdict convicting him of high treason and sentencing him to death.

The former army chief filed the review plea through his counsel. Musharraf was sentenced in absentia on treason charges stemming from his imposition of a state of emergency in 2007.

In his petition, Musharraf has raised objections to paragraph 66 of the judgment. Maintaining that the decision was announced in haste, the former president has prayed to the high court to suspend the decision.

Paragraph 66 is a dissenting note by Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth where he writes: “As a necessary corollary to what has been observed we find the accused guilty as per charge. The convict be therefore hanged by his neck till he dies on each count as per charge. We direct the Law Enforcement Agencies to strive their level best to apprehend the fugitive/convict to ensure that the punishment is inflicted as per law and if found dead, his corpse be dragged to the D-Chowk, Islamabad, Pakistan and be hanged for 03 days,” ruled Justice Waqar Seth, the presiding judge.

High treason

Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup and later ruled as president until 2008, is out of the country and did not comment on a ruling widely seen as part of a standoff between the judiciary and military over the rule of law.

He imposed a state of emergency at a time when he faced growing opposition to his rule. All civil liberties, human rights and democratic processes were suspended from November 2007 to February 2008.

The final years of his rule were marked by struggles with the judiciary over his wish to remain head of the army while president. He quit in 2008, after a political party that backed him fared poorly in a national election.

The 76-year-old is the first former army chief to be charged with treason in Pakistan and has said the powerful military helped him get out of the country.

In a strongly-worded statement, the army said the ruling had caused “pain and anguish” in the ranks and added: “The due legal process seems to have been ignored.”