The high treason trial against retired General Pervez Musharraf was delayed by a bomb scare on the first day of hearings. The police found five kilograms of explosives, a detonator and two pistols close to the route Musharraf was to take to the special court in Islamabad.
The case against him is of a criminal nature, so his appearance before the special court is a must. As he did not come to the court, the prosecutor asked the judge to issue non-bailable warrants against him.
Musharraf’s attorney informed the court of the reason for his non-appearance. His statement was backed up by the police officer present in the court.Because of the testimony of the police officer , the judge of the special court did not issue a non-bailable warrant in his name. The judge did instruct Musharraf’s attorney to file a new petition if it was a serious matter of security for his client. This is not something new for Musharraf. He was on the hit-list of the militants even while in office. He recounts the several attempts made on his life in his autobiography, In The Line Of Fire.
Presently, he is being tried under article six of the constitution of Pakistan. Article six specifically deals with cases of high treason. The punishment for treason as enshrined in the constitution is death, but as Pakistan has a moratorium on death penalty, Musharraf could possibly be sentenced for life imprisonment if convicted.
A special court has been constituted by the government. This special court is a three member bench headed by Justice Faisal Arab.
Musharraf is being tried for high treason for his declaring emergency, suspending the Chief Justice of Pakistan and for abrogating the constitution on Nov. 3, 2007. Today was to be the first day of hearings, but because of the bomb scare, the Musharraf treason trial has been delayed.
Political analysts view the trial of Musharraf as an instance of personal vendetta between him the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. It was in 1999 that Musharraf toppled his government in a bloodless coup.
Musharraf’s legal team has, through different channels including the print and electronic media, sought the intervention of Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and the U.K. to help stop this trial against their former ally. They have also appealed to the United Nations to help him in this hour of need. In spite of all these steps taken by the legal team representing Musharraf, he has informed the media that he is ready to stand trial. He is adamant that he did nothing wrong by declaring emergency in Pakistan. He further added that his step of declaring emergency on Nov. 3, 2007 was in the best interest of Pakistan. Musharraf held that justice will prevail and this special court will eventually vindicate his stance.
The majority of political analysts view this trial as an attempt to disgrace, malign and harm the good reputation of Pakistan army by the present government. It remains to be seen what decision the courts arrive at, but for the time being, the Musharraf treason trial has been delayed because of the bomb scare.
By Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada
The Washington Post