ISPR blasts detailed verdict in Musharraf treason case, deems it 'against humanity, religion'

Updated December 19, 2019

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DG ISPR Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor addresses a press conference on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV
DG ISPR Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor addresses a press conference on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV

Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, the director general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), addressed a short press conference on Thursday evening, in which he deemed the detailed judgement in the high treason case against former army chief Gen Pervez Musharraf to be against "humanity and religion".

The presser, during which the DG ISPR did not take any questions, came hours after the detailed verdict in the high treason case was released.

Maj Gen Ghafoor began by saying that the military had expressed its reservations after Musharraf was sentenced to death by a special court for high treason. He said after today's detailed judgement in the case against Musharraf "those reservations are proving to be true".

Following the verdict on December 17, ISPR had issued a swift statement, saying the "decision given by special court has been received with lot of pain and anguish by rank and file of Pakistan Armed Forces".

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The ISPR chief said the verdict issued today — especially the words used in the written order — "transgresses humanity, religion, culture and any other values".

Related: Govt to approach Supreme Judicial Council to restrain judge over 'despicable' observation

The army spokesperson did not specify any part of the judgement; however, para 66 of the order — which calls for the former president's body to be "dragged to D-Chowk" in Islamabad and "hanged for three days" — has already drawn severe criticism from the legal community as well as Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan.

Maj Gen Ghafoor said the Pakistan armed forces is an organised institution and its members have taken the oath to sacrifice their lives for the defence of the national security.

"We have demonstrated it practically in the past 20 years [and] achieved what no other country or army in the world could achieve.

"We are today facing a hybrid war. We are fully aware of this changing nature and character of war. We also understand the enemy, its facilitators, supervisors and their possible designs," he told the press conference.

The DG ISPR said the country is currently facing threats from both internal and external sources, and cited a recent statement by the Indian army chief in this regard.

"Some people want to provoke us through internal and external attacks into fighting amongst ourselves in the current circumstances, and are dreaming of defeating Pakistan in this manner.

"This will not happen. If we are aware of the threat, our response too is in place."

Maj Gen Ghafoor quoted Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa as saying that the country has covered a long journey and rendered countless sacrifices to achieves its present stability. "We will not let this stability be reversed in any situation," he said.

He continued: "The Pakistan Army is not just an institution. It is a family. We are armed forces of the people [and] are strengthened by the people's support.

"We know how to defend the country and also know very well how to defend the respect and dignity of the institution. But for us, the country comes first and the institution second."

The DG ISPR disclosed that the army chief had today held a detailed conversation with Prime Minister Imran Khan to discuss the situation in the aftermath of the issuance of the detailed verdict. He said Gen Bajwa and the premier exchanged views on how to take the situation forward after the verdict keeping in view the "sentiments of the armed forces" and of patriotic Pakistanis.

According to Maj Gen Ghafoor, the decisions taken during the meeting between the army chief and the prime minister will be revealed by the government in the coming days.

"The army and government have together been trying to take the country towards a direction where all threats are foiled," he said.

"I request the nation to have faith in the armed forces. We will not let disturbance spread in the country in any situation."

Death sentence

A special court in Islamabad on Tuesday had found Musharraf guilty of high treason and handed him a death sentence under Article 6 of the Constitution, marking the first time in Pakistan's history that a military chief was declared guilty of high treason and handed a death sentence.

The army had stood by Musharraf, with Maj Gen Ghafoor, in a statement, saying that the "decision given by special court has been received with [a] lot of pain and anguish by rank and file of Pakistan Armed Forces".

"An ex-Army Chief, Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee and President of Pakistan, who has served the country for over 40 years, fought wars for the defence of the country can surely never be a traitor," said the ISPR statement. "The due legal process seems to have been ignored including constitution of special court, denial of fundamental right of self defence, undertaking individual specific proceedings and concluding the case in haste.

"Armed Forces of Pakistan expect that justice will be dispensed in line with Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan," he said.

The PTI-led government had termed the high treason trial against Musharraf “unfair”. “I will defend the law in the case but not any individual,” said Attorney General Anwar Mansoor in a late-night joint press conference on the day of the verdict.

The former military chief is currently in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. He was admitted to a hospital following deterioration of his health earlier this month. The former military dictator broke his silence on Wednesday evening and expressed his gratitude to the armed forces and the people of Pakistan for "remembering [his] services" for the nation.

In a video that showed him lying on a medical bed, Musharraf also said that he would decide his future course of action after consulting his legal team.

“I have faith in Pakistan’s judiciary that they will provide me justice and keep in view the supremacy of law,” he said.