News / Asia

Musharraf's Treason Trial Begins Without his Presence

FILE - A poster of former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is seen hung up near a checkpoint outside his house, where he has been held under house arrest in Islamabad, Pakistan.
FILE - A poster of former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is seen hung up near a checkpoint outside his house, where he has been held under house arrest in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Ayaz Gul
Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf went on trial for treason Wednesday but defense lawyers told the court security threats prevented him from attending the proceedings.
 
Tight security arrangements were in place for Pervez Musharraf’s scheduled appearance before a three-member special court hearing the high treason case.
 
But shortly before the legal proceedings were to open Pakistani police reported defusing a bomb along the road Musharraf’s convoy was to take to the court, preventing him from leaving his residence on Islamabad’s outskirts. Police have found several improvised explosive devices in and around the same area in less than two weeks, forcing judges to put off last week’s inaugural session of the treason trail.
 
However, defense lawyer Ahmed Raza Kasuri said that the court accepted their arguments about security threats facing Musharraf and initiated the legal proceedings.
 
“I said [to the court that] if there is a blast in there, this hall, this is all open. You cannot arrange foolproof security and plug in all the gaps. If something goes wrong my lords will also be a target of that terrorist attack," said Kasuri. "So, there the court realized that what I am talking I am talking sense and they were not adamant that no proceeding can take place without him. Now the proceeding is taking place.”
 
Islamist extremists led by the Pakistani Taliban have repeatedly threatened to kill  Musharraf for his part in Pakistan’s alliance with the United States' fight against terrorism. The former military leader also survived two assassination attempts while in power.
 
Musharraf is unlikely to be indicted in absentia, but a member of the prosecution team, Naseeruddin Khan Nayar, sounded unhappy over the former general’s defiance of the court order. 

“The court has already issued an order requiring Mr. Pervez Musharraf to appear in person to answer the charges. Now it is for the court to procure his attendance in order to see the compliance of its own order,” he said.
 
The 70-year-old former military strongman ruled Pakistan for about a decade after taking power in a 1999 coup. However, the treason charges stem from Musharraf’s move to suspend the constitution and impose emergency rule in 2007 to cling to power in the face of growing nationwide opposition. He faces the death penalty if found guilty.
 
During Wednesday’s proceedings, defense lawyers again dismissed the treason charges as politically motivated. They said they are skeptical about getting a fair trial, citing Musharraf’s disputes with the judiciary while he was in power and under a government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whom the former army general ousted in the coup.
 
Musharraf returned to Pakistan in May after spending nearly five years in self-imposed exile. He wanted to take part in parliamentary elections but was barred from doing so. In addition to the treason charge, he also faces several other criminal cases, including murder. He was recently released from months of house arrest.  In recent interviews, Musharraf has claimed the military is upset by his treatment and is still backing him.
 
The treason trial is unprecedented in Pakistan, where the military remains the country’s most powerful institution. However, analysts say that a sustained period of democratic rule since Musharraf stepped down in 2008, and an increasingly independent judiciary, has put the military on the defensive.
 
Some fear that the treason charges against its former chief could upset the military and reignite its confrontation with civilian authorities.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
January 01, 2014 8:55 AM
They are probably retaliating for Zulfikar Ali Bhuto and Benazair Bhuto. How can suspension of constitution, which military leaders normally do, be equivalent to treason?. Just my personal opinion, as I am not affiliated with him or Pakistani politics in any way.

In Response

by: Hasan from: Nigeria
January 01, 2014 2:35 PM
Your input is equal to your output. Musharraf inputs is going to be processed now so it determine the kind of output

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid