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

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.