News / Asia

Musharraf Appears in Pakistan Court

A car carrying former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, drives past members of the media as he leaves the special court formed to try him for treason in Islamabad Feb. 18, 2014.A car carrying former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, drives past members of the media as he leaves the special court formed to try him for treason in Islamabad Feb. 18, 2014.
x
A car carrying former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, drives past members of the media as he leaves the special court formed to try him for treason in Islamabad Feb. 18, 2014.
A car carrying former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, drives past members of the media as he leaves the special court formed to try him for treason in Islamabad Feb. 18, 2014.
Ayaz Gul
Pakistan’s former president, Pervez Musharraf, has appeared in a special court to face treason charges, after repeated no-shows for weeks. The trial of the former army leader is unprecedented in a country where the military has staged several coups and its top officers have, until now, enjoyed an undeclared immunity from prosecution.
 
Security was tight in and around the court building when Pervez Musharraf, wearing a traditional Pakistani outfit -- called the shalwar kameez -- arrived to attend the legal proceedings.  
 
Once the most powerful man in Pakistan, the 70-year-old former general stood up and saluted the judges as they entered the room.  
 
Since the trial began in late December, Musharraf has missed two appearances because of security concerns and then he was hospitalized on January 2 for medical reasons that emerged while he was being driven to the courthouse in Islamabad.

Defense challenges

Tuesday’s proceedings ended quickly because the judges acknowledged they have to first rule on a defense motion challenging whether the court is eligible to try Musharraf before he is indicted on treason charges. Defense lawyer Ahmad Raza Kasuri later discussed details of the motion and said former or serving military officers can only be tried in a military court.  
 
“We stated categorically that this special court, which is a civil court, has got no jurisdiction to try General Musharraf because when General Musharraf issued proclamation of emergency at that time he was in [army] uniform," said Kasuri. "Therefore, he has to be tried by the military court. Now the court has given Friday, is the date fixed for making an order on the application wherein we have stated that the matter should be transferred to a military court.”
 
Kasuri said the defense has also challenged the objectivity of the judges hearing the case and the way the legal panel was set up. He added that until the court passed rulings on all these applications, his client cannot be indicted on treason charges.
 
The trial relates to Musharraf’s decision in 2007 to suspend the constitution and declare a state of emergency in his bid to extend his increasingly disputed rule as president. The former leader dismisses the case as a politically motivated vendetta.

Differing views

Some observers say the trial could help discourage future military coups in Pakistan, while others, like former parliamentarian and columnist Ayaz Amir, disagree.
 
“This trial and the way it is being conducted and the way the government pushed it, was I think a bit unnecessary and done in haste. Such things do not prevent military coups," said Amir. "The only thing that can prevent coups is performance, civilian competence, political command over the various facets of policy, but if the civilians lack that kind of competence then the military mind will dominate them.”
 
Musharraf seized power in a military coup in 1999 by ousting then prime minister Nawaz Sharif, and later forcing him into exile. He stepped down in 2008 and went into self-imposed exile months later. The former army leader returned to Pakistan last year to participate in the May elections but was barred from doing so because of several legal challenges facing him. Sharif’s party won the polls and he is now the prime minister of Pakistan for a third time, but he remains under fire from political opponents for being unable to address critical economic and security challenges facing Pakistan.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs