ISLAMABAD - Fist time in the history of Pakistan a military dictator would face the high treason charges as a three-judge special court today begins proceedings of the case under Article 6 of the constitution and High Treason (Punishment) Act 1973.
The Islamabad High Court yesterday (Monday) rejected Musharraf’s petition challenging the constitution of the special court as well as his plea for trial under the army act saying that he had taken the November 3 actions as Army Chief.
In the 67-year history of Pakistan, three generals abrogated, suspended or subverted the constitution but they were never tried under Article 6. Musharraf will be the first military ruler to stand trial for high treason, and in case of conviction, he could be awarded life imprisonment or even death penalty. Musharraf came to power in 1999 by toppling Nawaz government and ruled till 2008. He proclaimed Emergency on Nov 3, 2007, and issued PCO and Oath of Office (Judges) Order 2007.
The special court comprising Justice Faisal Arab of the Sindh High Court, Justice Muhammad Yawar Ali Khan of the Lahore High Court and Justice Tahira Safdar of the Balochistan High Court was set up by the federal government under Section 4 of the Criminal Law Amend (Special Courts) Act, 1976.
Tight security arrangements have been made for the former president’s trial in the National Library, Islamabad. Special Court Registrar Abdul Ghani Soomro also met with law enforcement representatives at his office in this regard.
Interior Secretary Shahid Ullah Khan on behalf of the federal government had Thursday filed a private complaint under Article 6 of the constitution and other relevant laws against the former president for subverting, abrogating, suspending, and holding in abeyance the constitution.
The federation seeks Musharraf trial, conviction and punishment as envisaged in Article 6. It prayed if the former dictator is found guilty of charges then he be awarded punishment under Section 2(2) of High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973, which says; “A person who is found guilty of high treason, as defined in Article 6 of Constitution, shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life.”
Five acts of the high treason against Pervez Musharraf have been mentioned in the government complaint. First, on Nov 3, 2007, in his capacity as Chief of Army Staff (COAS), he issued a proclamation in his own name to hold the constitution in abeyance. Second, Musharraf in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan Army, by adopting unconstitutional means, abrogated, subverted/suspended/held in abeyance the constitution by issuing the Proclamation, hence committing the offence of high treason as defined in Article 6 of the constitution.
Third, Musharraf as self-appointed COAS vide notification Sept 2, 2007-Min-I on Nov 3, 2007 also issued Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) No.1 of 2007. By issuing PCO No.1 of 2007, express letter and spirit of the Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part VII, Part XI and Part XII of the constitution was abrogated, subverted and suspended. Musharraf by issuing Oath of Office (Judges) Order 2007 grossly abrogated and subverted the letter and spirit of Part I, Part II and Part VII of constitution. Through issuing Oath of Office of (Judges), Musharraf also committed third act of high treason.
Fourth, Provisional Constitution (Amendment) Order 2007, issued by him also abrogated, subverted and suspended the letter and spirit of various provisions of the constitution including it Part I and Part XI. Fifth, Musharraf, who had occupied the office of president since June 2001, by issuing Constitution (2nd Amend) Order, 2007 further amended Article 41, 44, 193, 194, 208 and 270C of the constitution, which removed the constitutional bars in Article 44 and 63 to his third term election in uniform during the pendency of his case in the SC. He committed this fifth act of high treason in furtherance of his self-serving objectives.
“The retired general intentionally committed the (above said) offences to perpetuate his illegal occupation of highest state office, used for unconstitutional rule and to ward off any possible adverse verdict that could disrupt his continuous usurpation of power and to thwart the sub judice case,” the complaint against Musharraf says.