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Courts in Pakistan Serve a Double Whammy to the Powerful Army

Published Dec 18, 2019
Updated Feb 05, 2020

In another strong verdict delivered by the courts in Pakistan against the powerful Army, former army chief President Pervez Musharraf was awarded the death sentence days after the Supreme Court turned down the three year extension given to the present incumbent General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

A special court in Islamabad found the retired Gen Pervez Musharraf guilty of high treason and awarded him a death sentence under Article 6 of the Constitution. The three-member bench of the special court was headed by Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and comprised Justice Nazar Akbar of the Sindh High Court (SHC) and Justice Shahid Karim of the LHC.

Article 6 of the Constitution says: “Any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or hold in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance the Constitution by use of force or show force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason.” The punishment for high treason is death or lifetime imprisonment, according to the High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973.

Dawn News reported that Musharraf came to power after ousting then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a 1999 bloodless coup.

In an infamous purge in 2007, Musharraf imposed a state of emergency and placed several key judges under house arrest in Islamabad and elsewhere in Pakistan and was booked in the treason case in December 2013, when the PML-N government under Nawaz returned to power.

Musharraf was indicted on March 31, 2014 after he appeared before the court.

On March 18, 2016, the former president left Pakistan for Dubai for medical treatment after his name was removed from the exit control list on the orders of the Supreme Court. The Pakistan Army and the government including the Attorney General have come out strongly against the judgment, even as the political parties have expressed a sense of satisfaction.

Director General Inter-Services Public Relations Major General Asif Ghafoor said in a statement, “An ex-Army Chief, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and President of Pakistan, who has served the country for over 40 years, fought wars for the defense of the country can surely never be a traitor.”

This comes days after the Supreme Court on 28 November the day General Asim Javed Bajwa was to retire from service cut short the three years extension given to the Army Chief to six months and gave time to resolve the three key issues regulations, rules, procedures and operational necessity for the exceptional step in giving the Army Chief Bajwa a three-year leeway in term of office.

Clearly the Courts in Pakistan have served a double whammy to the Army