Former military head of state, Pervez Musharraf has been sentenced to death by a Pakistan court on Tuesday. A state media reported that the former leader’s sentence for treason is an unprecedented move in a country where the armed forces are most times considered immune from prosecution.
“Special Court Islamabad has awarded death sentence to former President Pervez Musharraf in a high treason case,” Radio Pakistan tweeted.
Musharraf’s offense borders around his decision to suspend the constitution and impose emergency rules in 2007, his lawyer Akhtar Shah said.
The unconstitutional step almost immediately sparked protests against Musharraf, leading to his abrupt resignation in the face of impeachment proceedings going on against him.
The former military dictator, Musharraf has been in self-imposed exile immediately a travel ban was lifted from him in 2016 that allowed him to seek medical aid abroad. Most of Musharraf’s time has been spent in London and Dubai trying to help his 76-year-old self.
“Musharraf wanted to record his statement and was ready to visit Pakistan but he wanted foolproof security which was not provided. He is still in Dubai and sick,” lawyer Shah said.
Musharraf, who was born in India’s capital New Delhi but later moved to Pakistan with his family at partition, assumed power after ousting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless coup in 1999.
A cigar-smoking, whisky-drinking moderate person, the general became a key US ally in the “war on terror” and did escaped at least three Al-Qaeda assassination attempts targeting him during his nine years rule.
His regime was more quiet until he attempted sacking the chief justice in March 2007, a move that sparked nationwide protests and months of turmoil that led to the imposition of a state of emergency.
After December 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, the national mood soured further and Musharraf was left isolated by the losses suffered by his allies in February 2008 elections.
After the court’s ruling on Tuesday, the late prime minister Bhutto’s son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari tweeted: “Democracy is the best revenge.”
The former military leader, Musharraf finally resigned in August 2008 at the face of impeachment proceedings by the new governing coalition and head to a self-imposed exile.
Musharraf headed back to Pakistan in 2013 and declared interest in contesting for the year’s elections but was denied the opportunity to do so and was also barred from leaving the country while facing a lot of legal cases. Tuesday’s ruling is the latest court blow on Musharraf.
Meanwhile, In 2017, a Pakistani court pronounced Musharraf a fugitive in the murder trial of Bhutto, who was the first woman prime minister of a Muslim country in history.
The anti-terrorism court branded Musharraf an absconder and ordered the confiscation of his entire property. Musharraf was accused of plotting with others the killing of his political rival before elections, an allegation he has denied.
Contributors: AFP, SurgeZirc UK