Pakistan's Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan announced in Islamabad today that the government would press treason charges against General Pervez Musharraf. The charges relate to Musharraf's suspension of the constitution, imposition of a state of emergency and the sacking of judges that refused to provide legal cover to his illegal moves in 2007. Most people, however, are skeptical about whether Musharraf would be punished.
November 17, 2013, 14:37 DST
Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said today that the former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf will face treason charges for imposing a state of emergency in 2007 and suspending the constitution.
“Following the judgement of the Supreme Court and a report submitted by an inquiry committee, it has been decided to start proceedings against General Pervez Musharraf (for treason) under Article 6 of the Constitution,” Nisar told a televised press conference in Islamabad today.
“It is happening for the first time in the history of Pakistan and the decision has been taken in the national interest,” Nisar said (in Pakistan, people do not necessarily go by their last name).
The interior minister also said the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry would receive a letter from the government tomorrow requesting him to set-up a tribunal of three high court judges to start proceedings against the former dictator for treason. As part of the proceedings, the government would also announce appointment of a special prosecutor.
There is widespread skepticism among people in Pakistan that Musharraf would be let go under a deal. Only a couple of weeks ago, a court in Islamabad granted him bail in the murder of a maulana whose madrassa at Lal Masjid in Islamabad was attacked in July 2007.
Hundreds of children, most of them female students, were burnt alive when phosphorus bombs were used against the madrassa compound. The chief cleric at the madrassa was killed.
Musharraf has made an application to the court to allow him to leave for Dubai to visit his sick mother. The court is due to rule on his application tomorrow.
Charges against Musharraf have also been dropped in the murder of Sardar Akbar Bugti in 2006. Bugti’s murder has led to an insurrection in Baluchistan where the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) has waged war against Pakistan. The BLA is armed, financed and backed by a number of external powers including the US, Britain, Israel, India and Germany, among others.
The Baluchistan government in exile is based in Israel. This gives clue to the foreign hands behind the turmoil in Baluchistan.
Musharraf faces a series of other charges among them one relating to the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in December 2007.
The latest announcement by the government to press treason charges against Musharraf relate to the imposition in November 2007 of emergency rule, suspension of the constitution and parliament and the sacking of top judges who declared his actions unconstitutional and illegal.
The Chief Justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry was put under house arrest. This led to widespread agitation in the country forcing Musharraf to first relinquish his post as army chief and then in August 2008 to resign as president.
He went into exile in Dubai and England but returned to Pakistan last March with the intention to run in parliamentary elections in May. Musharraf was barred from contesting.
For a while he was put under house arrest in his palatial home outside Islamabad but most people believe that he will be let go because the military would not tolerate any harm come to one of its own.
There may be an elected civilian government in Pakistan but it is the military, more precisely the army that has the last word on what is acceptable and what is not in Pakistan. For the military, Musharraf’s travails are a matter of honour, not whether he is innocent or guilty. The law only applies to ordinary people.