Five treason charges await Musharraf

Updated December 13, 2013

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Former military ruler General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. — File photo
Former military ruler General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: In the first move of its kind in the country’s history, the federal government brought on Thursday five charges of high treason against former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf for his trial in a special court.

An 11-page complaint (No 1 of 2013) was submitted by Interior Secretary Shahid Khan to Abdul Ghani Soomro, registrar of the special court constituted under the Criminal Law Amendment (Special Court) Act 1976, Islamabad, for trial of the former military ruler under Article 6 of the Constitution, read with Section 3 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act 1973 and Section 5 of the Criminal Law Amendment (Special Court Act) 1976.

The government also submitted a list of prosecution witnesses. They are: M. Siraj, deputy secretary of the cabinet division; Mohammad Khalid Qureshi, additional director general of the Federal Investigation Agency; Maqsoodul Hassan, director FIA; Hussain Asghar, director FIA; Taj Umar Khan, deputy solicitor in the law and justice ministry; Talib Hussain of PTV News; Kaleeem Shehzad, section officer of the cabinet division; and Khalid Rasool, FIA inspector.

The government had on Nov 19 constituted the three-judge special court comprising Justice Faisal Arab of the Sindh High Court, Justice Syeda Tahira Safdar of the Balochistan High Court and Justice Yawar Ali of the Lahore High Court.

The documents filed in the court include copies of notifications which made judges of the Supreme Court and high courts dysfunctional in pursuance of proclamation of emergency on Nov 3, 2007, orders for appointment of judges on Nov 3 and 12, 2007, Oath of Office (Judges) Order 2007, Proclamation (of emergency) Order, Provisional Constitution Order of Nov 3 and repealing of the same on Dec 15, 2007, and proclamation of emergency signed by Gen Musharraf as Chief of Army Staff and its endorsement by then cabinet secretary Syed Masood Alam Rizvi.

The interior ministry collected the documents from the law and justice ministry, human rights and cabinet divisions, Printing Corporation of Pakistan and PTV.

“The trial will be quick and swift and even if a challenge is filed in the Supreme Court against the holding of the case I will request the court to defer all such petitions and let me complete the prosecution of Gen Musharraf in 10 days,” said a confident Akram Sheikh who is leading the prosecution team.

According to legal observers, after the filing of the complaint a copy of the reference will be supplied to the defence side led by eminent lawyer Sharifuddin Pirzada within seven days. And after preliminary hearing notices will also be issued to Gen Musharraf to appear before the special court within a week.

The special court’s registrar said the proposal to hold the trial in the National Library Auditorium, adjacent to the Prime Minister’s Secretariat, was under consideration, but added that the court would also use the premises of the Federal Shariat Court (FSC).

The government has sought Gen Musharraf’s trial under five charges, the first suggesting that Gen Musharraf as Chief of the Army Staff issued a proclamation of emergency order on Nov 3, 2007, which unconstitutionally and unlawfully held the constitution in abeyance. Thus he subverted the constitution and committed the offence of high treason punishable under section 2 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act 1973, which is within the jurisdiction of the special court established under Section 4 of the Criminal Law Amendment (Special Courts) Act 1976.

Secondly, he issued the Provisional Constitution Order No 1 of 2007, which unconstitutionally and unlawfully empowered the president to amend the constitution from time to time. He also suspended the fundamental rights enshrined in Articles 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 19 and 25 of the Constitution, subverted the constitution and thus committed the offence of high treason.

Thirdly, Gen Musharraf as president of the country issued the Oath of Office (Judges) Order 2007 whereby an oath was unconstitutionally and unlawfully introduced in the Schedule which required a judge to abide by the provisions of the proclamation of emergency to perform acts and functions in accordance thereof. The order resulted in removal of a number of judges of the superior courts, including then Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Thus Gen Musharraf committed the offence of high treason.

Fourthly, he issued the Constitution (Amendment) Order 2007 whereby Articles 175, 186-A, 198, 218, 270B and 270C were unconstitutionally and unlawfully amended and Article 270AAA was added to the constitution, which was later removed through the 18th Amendment. Thus he subverted the constitution and committed the offence of high treason.

And fifthly, Gen Musharraf issued the Constitution (Second Amendment) Order 2007 whereby the constitution was unconstitutionally and unlawfully amended and, thereby, he subverted the constitution and committed the offence of high treason.

“These criminal acts of subversion of the constitution constituting high treason were personal acts of Musharraf for the purposes of his personal aggrandisement and a consequential vendetta,” the complaint said.

At no point of time did parliament validate or indemnify these treasonous acts of subversion and abrogation of the constitution, it said, adding that sufficient material was available on record which called for prosecution of Gen Musharraf for the offences of high treason.