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Pakistan SC upholds death sentence for former military dictator Pervez Musharraf in treason case

A special court awarded the death penalty to Musharraf on December 17, 2019, after a case of high treason was filed against him for his "unconstitutional" decision to impose an emergency in November 2007. Musharraf lived in self-exile for several years and died on February 5, 2023.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Islamabad Updated on: January 10, 2024 14:37 IST
Pakistan, pervez musharraf, death sentence
Image Source : PTI/FILE Pakistan's former military dictator Pervez Musharraf.

Pakistan's Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the death penalty for the late former military dictator Pervez Musharraf which was awarded to him by a special court in 2019 over a high treason case. The apex court rejected a verdict by the Lahore High Court (LHC) that declared all actions against Musharraf unconstitutional, Dawn reported.

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa said, “The impugned passed on January 13, 2020 by the Lahore High Court (LHC) […] is not sustainable and accordingly set aside.” The LHC had overturned all actions of the Pakistan government against Musharraf, including the filing of a complaint on a high treason charge and the formation of the special court, which led to the abolition of the death penalty for the military ruler.

Lawyer Hamid Khan in the court said Musharraf filed a criminal appeal while his request before the SC was to set aside the LHC order, which he said was a “constitutional matter”. The LHC order was challenged by the Pakistan Bar Council and several senior lawyers.

"Pervez Musharraf's heirs did not follow the case even on multiple notices," the SC remarked while rejecting the former president's appeal. Musharraf's counsel, Salman Safdar, said that he tried contacting Musharraf's family after the court decided to hear the appeal but the family never responded to him, reported Geo News.

The four-member bench led by CJP Isa also declared LHC's judgment "null and void" and remarked that the LHC's decision was against the law. This came despite Musharraf's death on February 5, 2023. In the previous hearing on November 29, Pakistan's Supreme Court noted that all judges who validated the martial law imposed by Musharraf should be held accountable.

The special court awarded the death penalty to Musharraf on December 17, 2019, after a case of high treason was filed against him during Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz's (PML-N) tenure for his "unconstitutional" decision to impose an emergency in November 2007.

About Pervez Musharraf

Known for his controversial nine-year-long reign during which he survived numerous assassination attempts, General Pervez Musharraf is widely known as the key architect of the Kargil War with India in 1999. Musharraf toppled the democratically-elected government of Pakistan in a bloodless coup in 1999, deposing former PM Nawaz Sharif, after his tactic in Kargil was thwarted.

His career was mired in controversy as he was embroiled in numerous court cases pertaining to insufficient security during former Pakistan premier Benazir Bhutto's assassination which shocked the world. His career ended in disgrace in 2008 when he was forced to resign as President and went into self-imposed exile.

Musharraf, who was appointed the chief of army staff by the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 1998, engineered the Kargil War that took place months after Sharif signed a historic peace accord with his Indian counterpart Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Lahore. Two years after his resignation, he formed his own party, the All Pakistan Muslim League and declared himself the party president. 

He returned to Pakistan in March 2013 to contest polls after living in self-exile for about five years but was hauled to court in different cases - including the 2007 assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto, treason under article 6 of Pakistan Constitution and murder of Bugti tribe chief Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti.

The death sentence against Musharraf was the first time a former top military official had faced such a sentence for treason in Pakistan. Musharraf, through his counsel Salman Safdar, had filed the plea to set aside the conviction by saying that the trial was conducted and completed "in sheer violation of the Constitution as well as the Code of Criminal Proce­dure (CrPC) 1898 as well as the suspension of the judgment in the interest of justice and fair play.

Musharraf passed away in February and his body was flown and buried in Karachi. The ex-Pakistan President was born in the old city of New Delhi in 1943, four years before the partition. Later his parents moved to Pakistan.

ALSO READ | Pakistan court to take up deceased dictator Pervez Musharraf's plea against death penalty

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