A special court has announced the long-standing verdict in high treason case against former military dictator General retired Pervez Musharraf. The former president has been sentenced to death under Article 6 for subverting the constitution.
This is a historic day as it is for the first time in the history of Pakistan that a former army chief has been convicted. The nation has a turbulent political history which has seen several military takeovers and democratically-elected governments have been overthrown. No civilian leader has ever completed a full term in office while military rulers usurped power and reigned for years.
Musharraf took over control in a bloodless coup d’état in 1999 disposing prime minister Nawaz Sharif. The military ruler remained in control until 2007 when immense pressure to hold general elections made him lose grip. The year was filled with protests and demonstrations making it one of the most dangerous years of his reign.
The same year saw the lawyer’s movement after Musharraf dismissed the chief justice, the May 12 carnage, and a powerful blast at a convoy welcoming Benazir Bhutto on October 18 in Karachi. Musharraf eventually imposed a state of emergency on November 3, 2007. Top judiciary and political leaders were either arrested or placed under house arrest.
The year 2007 ended on a grim note with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto on December 27. Eventually, a democratically elected government came to power and Musharraf was forced to quit. The transition process was tough and a treason case was filed in 2014 to try the former military ruler for his extra-judicial acts.
Musharraf was tried and sentenced in absentia, but convicting him was no small move. The army has issued a statement that it stands by Musharraf, stating that the verdict was received with ‘pain and anguish’. It states that Musharraf served the nation for four decades and cannot be termed a traitor. The armed forces want justice to be dispensed claiming that due legal process was not followed.
Political and civil circles agree that justice has been rightly served. Musharraf was given the right to a fair trial but the courts were not respected. The verdict shows that judges have the courage to uphold the law and constitution. This will be a landmark verdict and deterrence against unconstitutional acts which must be upheld. But to label the former chief of army as a ‘traitor’ is uncouth to say the least.