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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally in Washington

update President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs