Finding former Army General and former President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf guilty of high treason, a special court in Pakistan on Tuesday decided to send him to the gallows, reported the Dawn newspaper. This is the first time in the history of Pakistan that a former Army chief has been sentenced to death.
The death sentence has been passed under Article 6 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973, for imposing "extra-constitutional" emergency in Pakistan, in November, 2007, lasting for over a month, and subverting the Constitution. During this period notably, Musharraf controversially held both positions of President and Chief of Army Staff.
Article 6 states "Any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or holds in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance, the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason."
While the 2007 emergency was imposed citing feeble judiciary and high threat from militant attacks, the timing of the emergency quite conveniently coincided with the time when Musharraf's government was facing widespread public opposition.
During emergency, all high court and Supreme Court judges of Pakistan were asked to take oath under the 'Provisional Constitutional Order', and those who didn't were placed under house arrest. On 31 July 2009, the Pakistan Supreme Court decided the declaration of emergency rule by Musharraf to be unconstitutional under Article 279 of the Constitution of Pakistan. It also declared the steps taken in declaring the state of emergency to be null and void, and specifically stated that the removal of judges was unconstitutional and illegal.
Musharraf was booked for treason in December 2013, during the rule of Pakistan Muslim League (N), and the trial commenced in March, 2014. The matter was kept long pending due to due to litigation at appellate forums, lending Musharraf time to flee to Dubai.
The 2:1 conviction order has been passed by a three-member bench of the special court, comprising Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth, Justice Nazar Akbar of the Sindh High Court (SHC) and Justice Shahid Karim of the LHC.
The bench had reserved its verdict on November 19 however the order has been passed after hearing a fresh prosecution team on December 5.
As per reports, the Islamabad High Court had stopped the special court from issuing its verdict and had directed the government to notify a prosecution team by December 5. On its entering appearance, the special court had adjourned proceedings till December 17, for final hearing and pronouncement.
The detailed verdict is expected to be published within 48 hours.