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

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

With IS in Coalition Cross-Hairs, al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs