In a historic decision –a special bench handed down death sentence to former military dictator General® Pervaiz Musharaf for abrogating the constitution. It is the first such decision to award the capital punishment on the abrogation of 1973 constitution. He is the first military dictator that was charged with article 6 of the constitution under the high treason charges. It is the first time that article 6 applied against a military dictator. Former military dictator is living in self-imposed exile in Dubai. It took the special court six years to complete the trial. The decision was conveyed to the former army chief and president on his hospital bed in a London hospital.
A special court hearing the high treason case against General ®Musharaf announced its verdict today. The special court handed down death sentence to former military dictator. The bench consisting of three judges gives majority decision of 2-1. A three-member bench of the special court headed by Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth announced the decision. The court announced the short order. The detailed judgment will be released later.
The court, in its short order said that it had analysed complaints, records, arguments and facts in the case for three months. The court added it had found Musharraf guilty of high treason according to Article 6 of the Constitution of Pakistan.
The decision on high treason charges got mix response from legal experts, media, defence and political analysts. The pro-establishment and PTI leaning experts and analysts have already declared it as a victimisation of former military dictator. They termed this decision as unfair and unlawful. All the defence analysts that happen to be the former military officers argued that General Musharaf was not given fair trial.
These same experts and analysts always criticised the PML-N and other leaders for making anti- judiciary remarks to disrepute the judiciary. But now these experts and analysts are using the harsh language against judiciary.
On the other hand- anti- establishment and independent analysts and legal experts declare it historic decision. In their opinion- General ® Pervaiz Musharaf was provided all the opportunities to defend himself but he refused to record statement or to appear in the court. They called this decision as historic that will strengthen the rule of law and supremacy of the constitution.
The discussion on this decision clearly reflects that how divided we are as a society. The intellectual discourse is bitterly divided on anti and pro-establishment lines. The society is politically polarised and divided.
This is a milestone decision to end the indemnity to military dictators. The judiciary always sided with military dictators to legalise their martial law. The parliament also provided the constitutional cover to all the military take over. General® Pervaiz Musharaf was given the indemnity and legal and constitutional cover first by Supreme Court and later by parliament when he toppled the elected government of Nawaz Sharif in 12 October 1999. But the decision of imposing emergency on November 03, 2007 failed to get indemnity and constitutional cover.
The lawyers representing General Musharaf tried every delaying tactics to linger on the trial. It is pertinent to mention here the special court on November 19 had said the verdict in the case would be announced on November 28, before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) barred it from doing so. Finally the special bench announced its verdict today.
The trial against general Musharaf was initiated by the PML-N government and filed high treason case against him over the army chief/president imposition of extra-constitutional emergency in November 2007. Senior lawyer Akram Sheikh was appointed as the head of the prosecution in the case in November 2013, by the then-PML-N led government.
Earlier this year, head of the prosecution, Mohammad Akram Sheikh, tendered his resignation. In his resignation letter sent to the interior secretary, Sheikh expressed his inability to proceed with the case after the imminent change of government at the centre. The PTI government dismissed the entire prosecution team last month which surprised many.
The former army chief was indicted in the case in March 2014 after he appeared before the court and rejected all charges. On March 18, 2016, the former president left Pakistan for Dubai for medical treatment after his name was removed from the exit control list by then PML-N government after a Supreme Court decision.
A few months later, the special court had declared him a proclaimed offender and ordered the confiscation of his property owing to his continuous inability to appear. General® Musharaf only appeared once in the special court during this trial.
This decision might pave the way to establish the supremacy of constitution and rule of law in our country. The decision by the special court will break the precedent of abrogating the Constitution. It might end the cycle of military interventions after every few years.
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