'State of emergency': A timeline of the long-drawn high treason trial of General Pervez Musharraf

Dawn.com retraces the major events from that fateful point in history and Musharraf's political descent since then.
Published November 27, 2019

Eight years after then-Army chief General Pervez Musharraf seized power in 1999 and declared himself the country's chief executive, a new crisis erupted in 2007 when he imposed emergency in the country once more.

In a brief but dark period that followed, the Constitution remained suspended from November 3 to December 15 and several judges, including the chief justice, were detained.

In the proclamation order for the emergency, Musharraf, who had become a self-appointed president in June 2001, cited members of the superior judiciary "working at cross purposes with the executive and legislature in the fight against terrorism and extremism" as grounds for calling an emergency.

Here, Dawn.com retraces the major events from that fateful point in history and Musharraf's political descent since then.

November 3, 2007: President Musharraf declares a state of emergency and suspends the 1973 Constitution, rendering as many as 61 judges of the superior judiciary, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, dysfunctional.

All private channels go off air, and only the state-controlled PTV releases the proclamation of emergency order which speaks of the "visible ascendancy in the activities of extremists" as the reason for imposing the emergency.

November 28, 2007: Musharraf retires to full-time politics, handing the Army's charge over to Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

November 29, 2007: The retired general takes oath as a civilian president.

December 15, 2007: President Musharraf lifts the emergency, revokes the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) and revives a Constitution amended through presidential decrees seeking to validate actions taken during the 42-day-long emergency period.

Chief justices and judges of the Supreme Court (SC), high courts and Federal Shariat Courts take a fresh oath.

June 7, 2008: Musharraf categorically declares he has no plan to resign or go into exile.

August 18, 2008: After a nine-year rule on the country, President Musharraf resigns from office, averting the possibility of impeachment.

July 22, 2009: In an unprecedented move, the SC calls a former military ruler to defend his actions on November 3, 2007.

July 31, 2009: The SC rules that Musharraf's decision to impose an emergency on November 3, 2007, as well as his PCO were illegal and unconstitutional. The court gives him seven days to respond.

August 6, 2009: Musharraf refuses to answer the charges against him and leaves Pakistan for the United Kingdom.

June 8, 2010: The former president's political aides launch a political party — the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) — with Musharraf as its chief.

March 22, 2013: Musharraf gets pre-homecoming protective bail for 10 days in three high-profile cases.

March 24, 2013: The self-exiled former president returns to Pakistan to contest general elections.

March 27, 2013: Senior counsel A.K. Dogar, during a hearing pertaining to strict adherence to articles 62 and 63 during elections, refers to SC's ruling on Musharraf's actions on November 3, 2007. Reading out excerpts from the judgment, he argues that in overthrowing the constitution, Musharraf had committed the offence of high treason.

March 29, 2013: Sindh High Court grants an extension in bail for Musharraf, but rules that he cannot leave the country without permission.

April 5, 2013: SC agrees to hear a petition seeking to prosecute Musharraf under sections 2 and 3 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act 1973.

April 7, 2013: Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry withdraws himself from the three-member bench formed to hear the treason case against Musharraf.

April 8, 2013: SC summons the former military ruler in the treason case against him. The court also instructs the interior ministry to add his name to the Exit Control List (ECL).

April 18, 2013: Musharraf flees from the premises of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) after the cancellation of his bail application.

April 19, 2013: Musharraf surrenders in a magistrate's court in the judges' detention case. His farmhouse residence at Chak Shahzad, Islamabad, is declared a sub-jail.

April 30, 2013: Peshawar High Court bars Musharraf from ever contesting elections for either the National Assembly or the Senate.

June 5, 2013: IHC judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui recuses himself from hearing Musharraf's post-arrest bail plea in the judges' detention case, citing a "malicious campaign" against him "after I rejected the pre-arrest bail of the applicant in April".

June 14, 2013: Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid distances himself from the 2007 emergency. The minister says there was no question of him having allegedly abetted Musharraf as the proclamation of emergency came from the former president's person. He also denies having had any contact with Musharraf.

June 24, 2013: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif tells the National Assembly that his government will request the SC to try Musharraf under Article 6 of the Constitution.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addresses the Parliament in Islamabad on June 24, 2013. – AFP
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addresses the Parliament in Islamabad on June 24, 2013. – AFP

November 18, 2013: SC, under CJP Iftikhar Chaudhry, agrees to set up a special tribunal to try the former president for high treason.

November 19, 2013: The PML-N government submits five charges of high treason against Musharraf in a special court. A three-member bench to hear the case is also formed.

December 12, 2013: Special court summons Musharraf to face treason charges.

Read: Five treason charges await Musharraf

December 20, 2013: The former army chief, in an interview, seeks “forgiveness” for any wrongs he may have committed during his nine-year rule.

January 2, 2014: Musharraf is moved to hospital after suffering a "heart problem" while on his way to a special court hearing of the high treason case against him. His arrest warrant is not issued on medical grounds.

January 7, 2014: The Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) submits Musharraf's medical report to court, detailing that the former Army chief is suffering from "triple-vessel coronary artery disease and eight other diseases".

January 16, 2014: Special court orders AFIC to constitute a medical board to assess the former president's health and to submit a report. The board subsequently declares Musharraf to be in a "critical state" and recommends his treatment at a place of his choice.

January 28, 2014: Prosecution expresses lack of confidence in Musharraf's medical report and requests the special court to summon the AFIC chief for cross-examination.

February 7, 2014: Special court once again orders Musharraf to appear in the treason case.

February 18, 2014: After avoiding 22 consecutive hearings, Musharraf finally appears in court, but no charges are framed against him as the defence argues that the case should be heard in a military court.

A supporter raises the portrait of former president Pervez Musharraf outside a court in Islamabad on Feb 18, 2014. — AP
A supporter raises the portrait of former president Pervez Musharraf outside a court in Islamabad on Feb 18, 2014. — AP

February 21, 2014: Special court rules that the former Army chief is not to be tried in a military court.

March 30, 2014: Musharraf is indicted for treason and pleads not guilty to all charges.

April 1, 2014: The PML-N government offers to fly Musharraf's ailing mother to Pakistan from Sharjah.

April 2, 2014: The government rejects Musharraf's petition seeking the removal of his name from the ECL.

April 3, 2014: Musharraf petitions the Supreme Court for the removal of his name from the ECL so he may travel abroad to visit his ailing mother.

April 7, 2014: Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif breaks his silence over Musharraf's high treason trial, saying the Army will "preserve its own dignity and institutional pride" in response to “the concerns of soldiers on undue criticism of the institution (Army) in recent days”.

May 14, 2014: Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) declares it has "irrefutable proof" that Musharraf illegally imposed the 2007 emergency.

June 12, 2014: SHC strikes down the federal government's order barring Musharraf from overseas travel, ruling that "not a single ground was mentioned in the memorandum placing the former president’s name on the ECL".

June 13, 2014: Special court rejects Musharraf’s plea for details of "abettors" who had suggested, endorsed or implemented the November 3 emergency.

June 14, 2014: The government moves the top court against the SHC ruling allowing Musharraf's travel abroad.

June 23, 2014: The apex court suspends the SHC judgment allowing Musharraf to travel abroad until it decides the pending appeal.

September 8, 2014: Musharraf's legal team gets hold of crucial evidence pointing towards then premier Shaukat Aziz's role in the imposition of the 2007 emergency.

October 15, 2014: The former president's defence team asks the special court for a collective trial of all his accomplices.

November 21, 2014: Special court directs the federal government to resubmit its complaint in the treason case, this time including the names of former premier Shaukat Aziz, federal minister Zahid Hamid — who was law minister at the time — and former chief justice Abdul Hameed Dogar to the charge-sheet.

December 22, 2015: Musharraf says he invoked emergency after consulting Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani among other civilian and military leaders.

March 14, 2016: The former president seeks one-time permission to go abroad on medical grounds.

March 16, 2016: SC orders the removal of Musharraf's name from the ECL, allowing him to travel abroad for treatment.

March 18, 2016: Musharraf leaves for Dubai to seek medical treatment, promising to come back to his "beloved homeland" in a few weeks.

May 11, 2016: Special court declares Musharraf an absconder in the high treason case against him.

November 16, 2016: Musharraf’s farmhouse is attached to the high treason case.

February 27, 2017: Former president launches career as a TV analyst.

November 10, 2017: Musharraf announces 'grand alliance' of 23 political parties that will operate under the umbrella of the Pakistan Awami Itehad (PAI).

March 29, 2018: Special court bench dissolves after Justice Yahya Afridi recuses himself from hearing the high treason case.

April 7, 2018: Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar reconstitutes bench hearing Musharraf treason case.

May 31, 2018: Interior ministry, complying with the special court's orders, asks the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) and the Directorate General of Immigration & Passports to suspend Musharraf's national identity card and passport.

June 7, 2018: SC allows Musharraf to run for polls on the condition that he appear in person before the court.

June 20, 2018: Musharraf says he was set to return to Pakistan but the Supreme Court's orders barring authorities from arresting him made him change his mind.

July 30, 2018: Prosecution head in the treason case against Musharraf quits.

August 3, 2018: Special court decides to resume the trial — stalled due to Musharraf's departure from the country — beginning August 20.

August 20, 2018: Citing threats to his life, Musharraf seeks presidential security to appear before the court in the treason case.

August 29, 2018: Special court is told that Interpol has refused to issue red warrants for Musharraf's repatriation from the United Arab Emirates where he has been living since 2016.

October 2, 2018: Chief Justice Saqib Nisar grills Musharraf's lawyer on the "brave commando's" overdue return to Pakistan.

October 24, 2018: APML discloses that Musharraf is suffering from amyloidosis and has difficulty standing and walking.

November 19, 2018: Court tells Musharraf's counsel to convince Musharraf to return and provide his itinerary so the treason case could proceed.

March 31, 2019: SC orders Musharraf to appear before the special court in the treason case on May 2 or lose his right of defence.

April 1, 2019: SC, under Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, issues a decree telling the special court to proceed in the treason case without Musharraf's statement if he fails to appear the following month.

June 11, 2019: SC orders NADRA to unblock Musharraf's CNIC and passport.

July 30, 2019: Prosecution head in treason case against Musharraf quits.

October 8, 2019: Special court decides to hear the treason trial on a daily basis from October 24.

October 24, 2019: The PTI government sacks the prosecution team in the treason case.

November 19, 2019: The special court concludes its proceedings in the high treason case against the former military ruler, saying that a verdict will be pronounced on November 28.

November 23, 2019: Musharraf petitions the Lahore High Court to challenge the reservation of the judgment in the treason case.

November 25, 2019: The case takes a new turn as interior ministry files a petition in the Islamabad High Court requesting it to set aside the special court's decision to reserve a judgement in the case without hearing from the prosecution.

November 26, 2019: LHC accepts for hearing Musharraf's petition challenging the special court's decision.

November 27, 2019: IHC stops special court from announcing verdict in Musharraf treason case.

December 2019: Special court says it will announce the verdict in the case on Dec 17. Musharraf moves the LHC to stay the trial at the special court until his earlier petition pending adjudication by the high court is decided.

December 17, 2019: Special court hands Musharraf death sentence in the long-drawn high treason case against him.