A special court has indicted Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf on five counts of treason, a milestone for civilian authority in a country long-dominated by the army.

Mr. Musharraf pleaded not guilty to each count Monday at the court in Islamabad. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

In an address to the court, the former president said "I am not a traitor," and highlighted Pakistan's achievements under his tenure.

Monday was only the second time Mr. Musharraf has attended the court proceedings since they began in December. His lawyers submitted a motion asking that the 70-year-old be allowed to visit his ailing mother in Dubai. But the court declared it is up to the government to decide whether a travel ban against Mr. Musharraf should be lifted.

The treason charges stem from Mr. Musharraf's decision in 2007 to suspend the constitution and declare a state of emergency. His defense team says he acted on the advice of the prime minister and the Cabinet when he suspended the constitution.

Mr. Musharraf seized power in a military coup in 1999 by ousting then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and later forcing him into exile.

Mr. Musharraf 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 the legal issues facing him.