Pak court indicts Musharraf; rejects plea to travel abroad
Former Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf was today indicted by a special court on five counts of high treason, becoming the first ever military ruler
Islamabad: Former Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf was today indicted by a special court on five counts of high treason, becoming the first ever military ruler to face criminal prosecution that may potentially lead to the death penalty.
In another setback to 70-year-old Musharraf, the court, on technical grounds, rejected his application seeking permission to travel abroad for treatment and to meet his mother who is hospitalised in a Sharjah hospital.
The high-profile treason case against the former President is seen as a setback for the country’s powerful army that apparently looked like moving to protect Musharraf when he was shifted to a military hospital in early January.
Musharraf, who personally appeared in court, is accused of treason for suspending, subverting and abrogating the Constitution, imposing an emergency in the country in November 2007 and detaining judges of superior courts.
If found guilty, he faces the death sentence or life imprisonment.
Musharraf, who is the first military ruler in Pakistan’s history to be tried in court, rejected all the charges leveled against him.
He pleaded “not guilty” to the charges that were read out by Justice Tahira Safdar of the Balochistan High Court.
Reading out from his notes, Musharraf said that he gave 44 years of his life to the Pakistan Army and made defence invincible. He said he gave repute and progress to the country.
“I honour this court and prosecution, I strongly believe in law, I don’t have ego problems and I have appeared in court 16 times in this year in Karachi, Islamabad and Rawalpindi,” Musharraf said.
“I am being called a traitor, I have been chief of army
staff for nine years and I have served this army for 45 years. I have fought two wars and it is treason?,” he questioned.
Prosecutor Akram Sheikh in reply said he has never used the word “traitor”.
Amid tight security, the three-judge bench headed by Justice Faisal Arab of the Sindh High Court read out the indictment against Musharraf.
Prior to the indictment, Farogh Naseem, a new lawyer in Musharraf’s defence team, requested the court to allow the former president to travel to the UAE to meet his 95-year-old ailing mother.
He said the Constitution did not allow anyone to restrict the movements of a citizen.
Naseem said Musharraf had arrived in court voluntarily and the warrant against him had not been implemented.
He argued that Musharraf himself was unwell and that his proper treatment was only possible in the US.