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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More