News / Asia

    Pakistan’s Musharraf to Stand Trial for Treason

    Police officers arrive to join duties outside former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf's house in Islamabad Nov. 6, 2013.
    Police officers arrive to join duties outside former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf's house in Islamabad Nov. 6, 2013.
    Ayaz Gul
    Pakistan's government says it will put former military ruler Pervez Musharraf on trial for treason, which is punishable by death or life imprisonment.  While the move is unprecedented in a country where top army generals have long enjoyed immunity from prosecution, skeptics are questioning the timing of the announcement.

    Treason charges against Musharraf stem from November 2007 when he suspended the constitution and imposed a state of emergency in an attempt to prolong his rule.  The move effectively suspended and detained senior judges, including the chief justice of the Supreme Court, although they were restored months later, after Musharraf stepped down from power.
     
    Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan told reporters in Islamabad that on the instruction of the Supreme Court, a special commission investigated the former military ruler and its findings have prompted the government to launch the legal process.

    Khan cited Article 6 of the country’s constitution that empowers the federal government alone to try anyone for subverting the fundamental law.  

    Reasons, timing murky

    The minister said the government will deliver a letter to the country’s chief justice on Monday asking him to appoint a three judge panel to try Musharraf for treason.  Khan insisted the decision is not a personal vendetta by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who Musharraf ousted in a bloodless military coup in 1999. 

    But the former president’s attorney, Ahmad Raza Qasuri, alleged the treason charges are politically motivated and meant to deflect attention from pressing economic problems and worsening security conditions in Pakistan.  
     
    “They have a personal vendetta to settle with General Musharraf because it was Mr. Nawaz Sharif, whose government was toppled down on 12th of October, 1999.  As far as detaining the judges is concerned, in that case no judge or no relative of a judge has come forward in the investigation before the local police to record that they were detained illegally, so that case will fall like a house of cards,” said Qasuri.

    Musharraf is free on bail in connection with several other legal challenges, but the former army chief is barred from leaving the country. He maintains his innocence and insists cases against him are politically motivated.

    Human rights activists in Pakistan, including Tahira Abdullah, have long demanded elected civilian governments assert themselves to deter future coups by taking legal action against dictators.

    “I am happy to hear that General Pervez Musharraf is going to be tried for treason under Article 6 of the constitution.  It is long overdue, never mind, it has come.  But the timing is absolutely awful.  Nothing could have been worse than this for the simple reason that here we are faced with a very, very serious emergency in Rawalpindi and who knows how far it may take the whole of Pakistan in its flames, this fire of sectarianism and hatred and intolerance and militancy and extremism that is spreading all across Pakistan,” said Abdullah.

    The city of Rawalpindi, where the powerful military is headquartered, remained under curfew for a third day on Sunday because of deadly clashes between majority Sunni and minority Shi’ite Muslims.  Authorities have tightened security in major cities, including the capital, fearing the sectarian tensions could spread to other parts of Pakistan.

    The country's security forces are also at war with internal Islamist insurgents and Pakistani Taliban allied to al-Qaida.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora