Special court's verdict in treason case to be challenged in SC, says Musharraf's counsel

Updated 17 Dec 2019

Email

Former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf has been handed a death penalty in a treason case against him. — INP/File
Former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf has been handed a death penalty in a treason case against him. — INP/File

The decision to hand death penalty to former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf will be challenged in the Supreme court, Advocate Salman Safdar, lead counsel of the former military ruler announced in a press conference on Tuesday.

The press conference was held hours after a special court announced its verdict in a treason case against Musharraf, sentencing him to death for abrogating the Constitution and imposing emergency in the country in 2007.

Advocate Safdar noted that the trial was unconstitutional and laws were neglected during the process. He said that Musharraf was denied the right to fair trial.

The former dictator's counsel said that the case was decided in a hurry and declared that the decision was "worse than the decision to hang [former prime minister] Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto" — who was sentenced to death in a murder case.

Safdar added that co-accused of the convict should have been included in the trial along with Musharraf. He regretted that 77-year-old former president was trialed and during the process he was not even listened to.

Earlier, the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) — the political party founded by Musharraf — had said that an appeal will be filed against the special court's decision.

APML's General Secretary Mehrene Malik Adam, in a press statement, said that the party was "appalled" at the verdict, adding that the case against the former president was "formed on flimsy grounds".

"We would like to remind that this case was formed on flimsy grounds, where aiders and abettors were excluded from the case and its hearing and the former president was singled out in the high treason case, though the decision was taken after consultation with the cabinet members, chief ministers, governors, and corps commanders," the statement read.

The press release further said that Musharraf, "as a law-abiding citizen", had appeared before courts when he was in the country and lamented that the court had announced a verdict despite his request not to announce the decision in his absence.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan said that the government will "review in detail" the ruling issued earlier today.

Speaking to reporters in Islamabad she said: "We will review in detail, today's verdict as well as yesterday's," adding that legal experts will analyse all legal and political aspects as well as the impact on national interests, after which a government statement will be presented to the media.

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In response to a question about whether the government will bring Musharraf back to Pakistan, Awan said the government will assess the matter with its legal team. She added that she had just found out about the verdict.

Awan added that Prime Minister Imran Khan is returning from a trip tomorrow, after which he will himself look at the "relevant ground realities and legal framework". Following this, a final decision will be taken.

When asked about the government's request to stop the verdict against Musharraf, Awan said she could only comment on this after consulting the legal team.

Meanwhile, speaking to reporters, PML-N secretary general Ahsan Iqbal said that for the first time the superiority of the Constitution was taking root in Pakistan.

"With this hopefully in the future, the tradition of breaking the Constitution will end," he said, adding that if this verdict had been given 50 years ago, martial law would never have been imposed in the country and East Pakistan would never have been seperated.

Shortly after the verdict was announced, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari tweeted: "Democracy is the best revenge. Jiye Bhutto."

Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said given the need of the time, it is necessary to bring the country together.

"What is the benefit of such verdicts which increase distances and divides and by which the country and institutions are divided?" he tweeted.

"I am constantly saying that there is a need for dialogue. Go towards a new deal. Showing someone as below you, is not in anyone's interest. Have mercy on the country," Chaudhry added.