The meeting will also discuss matters related to legislation regarding the extension of services of the army chief and the appointment of a chief election commissioner and other members of the electoral body.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday summoned an emergency meeting of his party’s core committee to discuss the conviction of former military dictator Pervez Musharraf, a day after the powerful army said the verdict caused “pain and anguish” in the armed forces. The meeting will also discuss matters related to legislation regarding the extension of services of the army chief and the appointment of a chief election commissioner and other members of the electoral body. Sources in the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf said that Khan would take senior party leader on board on the policy regarding the conviction of Musharraf.
Interestingly, Khan while in opposition supported prosecution of Musharraf in the treason case. Some of the video clips of his interviews were shown repeatedly by local TV channels. Khan was in Geneva on Tuesday to attend the ‘Global Refugee Forum’ when a three-member bench of a special court, headed by Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth, on Tuesday found the ailing 76-year-old former Army chief, now living in Dubai on self-exile, guilty of high treason and handed him the death sentence. Musharraf’s sentencing angered the powerful Army which said that the verdict caused “pain and anguish” in the rank and file of 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 defense of the country can surely never be a traitor,” Army spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said. “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,” he said. “Armed Forces of Pakistan expect that justice will be dispensed in line with Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” Ghafoor said.
Soon after the verdict on Tuesday, Special Assistant to the PM on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan said that the detailed response would be given after consultation but after the statement by the army, Awan and Attorney General Anwar Mansoor in a late night press conference termed the judgment as “unfair” and announced to defend Musharraf in the appeal. “I will defend the law in the case but not any individual,” Attorney General Anwar Mansoor said. Musharraf can file appeal against the judgment within 30 days. But he would have to return to Pakistan for it unless allowed by the higher court.
The former Army chief left for Dubai for medical treatment in March 2016 and has not returned since, citing security and health reasons. Almost following the points raised by the army in its statement, Mansoor said that the Musharraf was not given the right of fair trial and the judgment was issued in haste. “There is no question that a person who had committed treason must be punished but in this case the right of fair trial guaranteed under the Constitution was not ensured. A trial should not just be fair but also seen to be fair,” he said.
Musharraf also found sympathy with Karachi-based Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan party of Mohajirs who are Urdu-speaking migrants who came to Pakistan after partition in 1947. “What kind of justice is this that those looted national wealth are considered patriots but the man who put his life at stake for the sake of country has been declared a traitor,” MQM-P chief Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said.
Musharraf seized power by ousting then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif in a 1999 bloodless coup. He has also served as Pakistan’s president from 2001 to 2008. He is the first military ruler convicted for subverting the Constitution. Though he was not the first General to do so. Three Pakistan Army chiefs including Gen Ayub Khan, Gen Yahya Khan and Gen Zia-ul-Haq also abrogated the Constitution but never faced any court.