ISLAMABAD: Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf on Sunday denounced treason charges against him as a “vendetta”, and said he had the backing of the army in the case.

The 70-year-old said the “whole army” was upset with the treason allegations.

The military has not made any direct public comment on the case. But it is thought to be reluctant to have its former chief suffer the indignity of trial by a civilian court.

“I would say the whole army is upset. I have led the army from the front,” Mr Musharraf told reporters at his farmhouse on the edge of Islamabad.

“I have no doubt with the feedback that I received that the whole army is... totally with me on this issue.”

The treason charges relate to Gen Musharraf’s imposition of emergency rule in November 2007, and if found guilty he could face the death penalty or life imprisonment.

An initial hearing in the case, being heard by a special court, was halted on Dec 24 after explosives were found along the route Mr Musharraf was to take to the court.

The case is due to resume on Wednesday, but Mr Musharraf said he had not yet decided whether he would attend. “The way this tribunal was formed, which involved the prime minister and the ex-chief justice, this itself smacks a little bit of a vendetta,” he said.

The former president said he had no objection to defending himself before a “fair tribunal or court” but admitted he was not optimistic about the special panel convened to hear his case.

His lawyers have dismissed the charges as an attempt by the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whom Gen Musharraf ousted in a coup in 1999, to settle old scores through the courts.

INFLATED ASSESSMENT: Defence analyst Talat Masood, himself a retired general, voiced scepticism about Mr Musharraf’s claims of widespread support among the military.

He said that while some elements might be sympathetic, to say that the whole army was behind Mr Musharraf was an “inflated assessment”.

“The army has already given its nod as far as the trial is concerned,” Mr Masood told AFP.

“Some who have not reconciled with this reality will have to accept it later. Army has already accepted the reality.”

Mr Musharraf returned to Pakistan to run in May’s general election but it proved to be a disastrous homecoming. He was barred from running for office and hit with a series of serious criminal allegations dating back to his time in power, which ended in 2008.

These include murder charge over the assassination in 2007 of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, as well as charges over the death of Nawab Akbar Bugti, a deadly military action against militants in Red Mosque and the detention of judges.

He has now been granted bail in all of the cases against him and is technically a free man, but Taliban threats to kill him mean he lives under heavy guard.

Nothing has come so far of persistent rumours that a deal would be struck to let him leave Pakistan before facing the courts to avoid a clash between the army and government.

Mr Masood said he felt the case is a watershed in civilian-military relations, with the government trying to prove that not even senior officers are above the law.

As the treason case has drawn closer, Mr Musharraf’s team has stepped up their media campaign to try to enlist international support.

At a press conference in London last week, his British lawyers urged the United Nations to intervene in what they called a “stage-managed show trial” and asked London and Washington to “repay their debt” for Mr Musharraf’s support in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.—AFP


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Comments (6) (Closed)


fatima
Dec 30, 2013 09:42am

Isn't Nawaz Sharif guilty for the death of so many innocent Pakistanis being killed in Pakistan every day. He is the Chief Executive who is responsible for the well being of the people of Pakistan and if he cannot provide safety to the people of Pakistan he must be held responsible.

SHYAM LAL
Dec 30, 2013 06:25pm

General Musharraf, In Pakistan, anybody coming up a ladder of power is riding a tiger. He does not have a safe landing like in India where after defeat also anybody can start life afresh and again try to come up. Mian Nawaz Sharief was saved gallows by Saudis. Benazir was assassinated. We are not talking about Bhutto or Zia ul Haque. Now we wonder who will save you. Yours is a typical case. You are a Army commando. Fought war against India. But we commend your commitments and your ability to enforce them. No body after you has been able to do that. You served the army well. In our view you also served Pakistan well. But they have dumped you and that is the biggest puzzle for us.

Sami
Dec 31, 2013 04:46am

There are serious talks on the subject in the Army circle. Not many are happy with Nawaz Shairif

Zaidi
Dec 31, 2013 06:11am

@fatima: Very good point, but this is Pakistan - nothing will happen.

ohammed A. Sukhera (USA)
Jan 01, 2014 06:28am

@fatima: You are mixing oranges with apples. The leaders are elected by the majority of the people.. Therefore, people are indirectly responsible if the elected officials fall short of their expectations. In a democratic system, You have a choice to fire the leader in the next elections when his term comes to an end.

Mohammed Abbas Sukhera (USA)
Jan 02, 2014 02:20am

@SHYAM LAL: We are a nation of laws which are equally applicable to everyone regardless of their status in the society. Army's job is to protect the country's borders against foreign adventurers so that its people can sleep in peace. Pakistani nation provides the best training to the army personnel to achieve these goals despite its economic problems. Army’s personnel’s oath before induction to the armed forces is to protect the country’s borders and uphold its constitution. This definitely does not include meddling in the country's politics or overthrow its elected leaders by force or oath to the army chief. There may be a time when elected leaders don't perform to the best of their abilities or are misled by their advisors but this does not mean army has a right take over the government. Our laws are very clear that army has no role in running the country. The sad part is that military has been running the country (Pakistan) for most part of its existence. We can't change the past but I believe military and the people of Pakistan have realized that we must punish the wrongdoers to discourage other future adventurers if the democracy is to be protected. I truly believe that Pakistan will survive against all odds and will elect genuine and dedicated leaders. They will steer clear of corruption; stay away from abuse of power and keep the nations’ interests in the forefront like Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Liaqat Ali Khan. The later had only 34 rupees in his account when he was assassinated. May God bless his soul, Amin