ISLAMABAD: The government will move the court to try former president Pervez Musharraf under Article 6 — high treason — for subverting the constitution of Pakistan twice, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar announced on Sunday. In Pakistan, the maximum penalty for treason is death.
The interior minister added that proceedings will begin from Monday onward. He said a three-member bench of the Supreme Court would hear the case. The government is also expected to announce a special prosecutor for the case.
The Adiala Jail authorities had only recently formally released Musharraf on November 6 from his sub-jail after he was granted bail by a local court. The former military ruler had remained under house arrest at his farmhouse for over seven months while he faced court trials. Even though he had been granted bail in all cases, Musharraf’s name is still on the Exit Control List (ECL).
The high treason case against Musharraf had been pending as the Federal Investigation Agency had not started formal proceedings.
The Supreme Court had referred this case to the federal government to initiate the high treason case against the former army chief for twice holding the Constitution in abeyance.
Article 6 – high treason states:
6. High treason.—1[(1) 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.]
(2) Any person aiding or abetting 2[or collaborating] the acts mentioned in clause (1) shall likewise be guilty of high treason.
3[(2A) An act of high treason mentioned in clause (1) or clause (2) shall not be validated by any court including the Supreme Court and a High Court.]
(3) 4[Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)] shall by law provide for the punishment of persons found guilty of high treason.
From words to action
The decision today is in line with a Parliamentary address by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in June, where the newly elected PM had said the government “firmly subscribes to the view that the holding in abeyance of the constitution on 3rd November 2007, constituted an act of high treason.”
At the time, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had backed Nawaz’ announcement.
Reactions on Twitter
Most local Twitter users found the government’s announcement of pursuing a treason case against Musharraf ill-timed.