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ISLAMABAD, Aug 22 PML-N Senator Zafar Ali Shah on Saturday moved the Supreme Court seeking a directive requiring the federal government to initiate criminal proceedings under treason charges against former president Gen Pervez Musharraf.

Interestingly, the PML-N distanced itself moments after the filing of the petition by clarifying that it was the party's considered view that such a move should be initiated in parliament.

The party's information secretary, Ahsan Iqbal, told reporters that the petitioner had not acted on its directive, “although Senator Shah, being a well-known lawyer, a highly exposed technocrat and a common citizen, has every right to knock at the doors of the Supreme Court on his own”.

Filed by Advocate A.K. Dogar on behalf of the senator, the petitioner has requested the apex court to order the federal government to commence proceedings under the High Treason (Punishment) Act of 1973 against Gen Musharraf for trial, conviction and sentence for committing heinous crime of high treason against his own people.

This is the second such petition filed before the Supreme Court against Gen Musharraf. The first was by a law firm requesting initiation of contempt of court proceedings for imposing the Nov 3, 2007, emergency in disregard of a seven-judge restraining order of the same court which had overturned the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) and had restrained the army chief and corps commanders from acting under the emergency decree.

The petition has been moved after registration of a case against Gen Musharraf and unnamed collaborators for detaining superior court judges and their families in their houses following the proclamation of emergency.

In his petition, the senator, on whose petition the Supreme Court had earlier validated the Oct 12, 1999, military coup by Gen Musharraf, also challenged a provision in Section 3 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973, which required the federal government to move a reference for any proceedings under high treason and said this provision was against Article 6 of the Constitution, which does not demand such condition.

The annexure in the petition also contained the oath meant for members of the armed forces barring officers from political activities whatsoever and to serve Pakistan honestly and faithfully.

The Constitution, it stated, recognises the people of Pakistan as sovereign and no individual, no matter however high he may be, could override the will of the people.

True faith and allegiance, the petition stated, meant that every soldier should be faithful and it was his duty to obey and be loyal to the sovereign and breach of allegiance to one's sovereign was an offence.

The petition also asked whether former army chief (Gen Musharraf) did not commit breach of his constitutional oath through his Oct 12, 1999, military coup in disregard of the Constitution and, if faith and allegiance to Pakistan means upholding the Constitution which embodies the will of the people, does it not amount to treason.

The armed forces, the petition alleged, were not only ridiculed but insulted by exploiting them only for personal gains. They were made to climb the wall of the prime minister's house on Oct 12 and used to maintain Gen Musharraf in his extra-constitutional usurpation of power, the petition alleged.

To relinquish the office of Chief Executive in accordance with the Supreme Court's May 12, 2000 judgment, means that Gen Musharraf should have surrendered the command of the armed forces to the then Prime Minister, Mir Zafraullah Khan Jamali, after holding the general elections, but by not doing so, Gen Musharraf disobeyed and violated the order of the apex court, the petition contended.