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As Former Ruler Goes to Trial, Pakistan Army Chief Lauds Military

  • VOA News

Supporters of former President Pervez Musharraf in Karachi, Pakistan on April 6, 2014.

Supporters of former President Pervez Musharraf in Karachi, Pakistan on April 6, 2014.

Pakistan's army chief says the military will "resolutely preserve its own dignity and institutional pride," as former military ruler Pervez Musharraf stands trial for treason.

Gen. Raheel Sharif says the army "upholds the sanctity of all institutions" and has "contributed immensely towards national security and nation building." The Pakistani army says Sharif made the comments in response to soldiers' concerns about criticism of the military.

Musharraf has pleaded not guilty to treason for declaring a state of emergency in 2007. He suspended the constitution and fired several judges in what prosecutors say was an attempt to silence the opposition. He faces the death penalty if convicted.

The trial is being hailed as unprecedented in Pakistan, where the powerful military has staged three coups and its officers have enjoyed de facto immunity from prosecution in civilian courts.

During proceedings last week, the former president Musharraf declared he is not a traitor and highlighted the achievements he says Pakistan made during his nearly decade-long rule. The former president reiterated he is prepared to face trial and defend actions that he says were approved by the prime minister and Cabinet at the time.

Also Monday, Pakistani security forces said they killed at least 30 separatist militants during a military operation in the Qalat region of Baluchistan.

The southwestern province has been gripped by a low-level insurgency for decades, with ethnic Baluch rebels fighting for greater control over Baluchistan's natural resources or its secession from Pakistan.

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