ISLAMABAD: A special court, formed by Pakistan government to try former military ruler General (retd) Pervez Musharraf in a high treason case, on Friday summoned him to appear before it on December 24 under Article 6 of the Constitution.
In the ‘high treason’ case against the former president, the government has charged him with abrogating, subverting, suspending, holding in abeyance and attempting to conspire against the 1973 Constitution by declaring emergency and overthrowing the superior judiciary in November 2007.
It will be the first time in Pakistan's history that a former military dictator will face a treason trial.
Meanwhile, a three-judge bench of the special court, headed by Justice Faisal Arbab and comprising of Justice Tahira Safdar and Justice Yawar Ali, convened its first meeting today at Federal Shariat Court (FSC) to review the charge sheet filed by the federation.
The Supreme Court in November accepted a government request to set up a special tribunal to try Musharraf for high treason.
The three judges, mentioned above, were later chosen by the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is now on an unprecedented collision course with the all-powerful military.
Speaking to media representatives after the meeting, Registrar Special Court Abdul Ghani Soomro said the Musharraf treason case has officially been registered and is on record now.
“General (retd) Musharraf has been summoned to appear before the court on Dec 24,” he said.
The session of the special court is expected to be held either in National Library Auditorium, adjacent to the Prime Minister’s Secretariat or Federal Shariat Court in Islamabad.
The special court has also summoned Akram Sheikh Advocate after admitting complaints filed by the federation.
Apart from Advocate Sheikh, lawyers representing the government are: Dr Tariq Hassan, Nasiruddin Khan Nayyar, Ikram Chaudhry, Sardar Asmatullah, Tayyab Jafri, Ishtiaq Ibrahim, Sajeel Shaharyar, Natalya Kamal, Sharjeel Adnan Sheikh, Hasan Mann, Faraz Raza, Haider Murtaza, Naeem Qureshi and Raheel Kamran Sheikh.
In addition, the 8-member panel which would defend the former army chief in treason case are: Sharifuddin Pirzada, Dr Khalid Ranjha, Ilyas Siddiqui, Ahmed Raza Kasuri, Ibrahim Satti, Anwar Mansoor and Waqar Rana.
The federal government on Thursday filed an eight-page petition in the special court praying that if the accused found guilty of any or all the five charges brought against him, the accused may be awarded punishment as mentioned in Section 2(2) of the High Treason Act 1973, which is a death sentence or life imprisonment.
The treason accusation relates to Musharraf's decision in 2007 to impose emergency rule shortly before the Supreme Court was due to decide on the legality of his re-election as president a month earlier, while he was still army chief.
Musharraf overthrew the government of Nawaz Sharif – elected to power again in May this year – in a bloodless military coup in October 1999, but a year later the Supreme Court validated the take-over.
During the 2007 period of emergency rule he suspended the constitution and parliament, and sacked top judges who declared his actions unconstitutional and illegal.
Musharraf faces an array of criminal charges dating back to his 1999-2008 rule, including for the murder of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in December 2007.
Despite being on bail in all other charges, Musharraf remains under guard at his Islamabad farmhouse because of Taliban threats to his life, and is unable to leave Pakistan as his name appears on the exit control list.