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Web Desk
December 17, 2019

Musharraf treason case: Politicians, experts react to special court's verdict


Web Desk
Tue, Dec 17, 2019

The death sentence awarded to General (retd) Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday in the high treason case under Article 6 of the Constitution drew plenty of reactions from analysts and political players, with some terming it a historic decision and others questioning its legal standing.

A special court bench comprising Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth of the Peshawar High Court, Justice Nazar Akbar of the Sindh High Court and Justice Shahid Karim of the Lahore High Court announced the verdict it had reserved on November 19.

This is what senior journalists, political players and legal experts had to say:

Verdict blocks military intervention in Pakistani politics forever: Hamid Mir

"This is a historic verdict in the history of Pakistan," Senior journalist Hamid Mir told Geo News. "If you look at the timeline of the case, it suggests that every effort was made to stop the court from issuing this verdict but the Supreme Court played a key role in this situation."

"The court gave Musharraf time to record his statement in the case but he did not avail the opportunity," Mir reasoned, adding that, "the verdict was announced after all legal procedures in the case had been followed.

"The verdict is not against any one person, but the bigger picture is that the court has blocked military intervention in Pakistani politics forever. No court can henceforth use the doctrine of necessity to justify military interventions in politics anymore."

Decisions that divide nations benefit no one: Fawad Chaudhry

Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry, who was a member of Musharraf's political party earlier in his career, questioned the need of a decision that "divides the nation and states institutions".

"The need of time is to unite the nation. What is the benefit of decisions that create distances and divides the nation and state institutions? I have been saying continuously that there is a need for dialogue. Let's go towards a 'New Deal'. Dishonouring each other is not in anyone's interest. Let's have mercy on this country."

Democracy is best revenge: Bilawal

PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardardi shared a photo of his late mother Benazir Bhutto with the message: "Democracy is the best revenge."

Govt's narrative will come after PM reviews verdict: SAPM Awan

Special Assistant to PM on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan remained tight-lipped, saying that "the government's legal team would first view the detailed verdict, analyse it's legal and political aspects before presenting their viewpoint."

"The prime minister is coming back tomorrow; he will see the verdict's legal framework," she added.

This ends tradition of violating Constitution: Ahsan Iqbal

Senior PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal said that "the verdict against Musharraf would end the tradition of violating the Constitution in Pakistan."

Verdict is biased: Irfan Qadir

Legal expert Irfan Qadir, though, said that the decision to sentence the former president to death would have wide-ranging repercussions. "This is a wrong decision and will divide the country," he said, while severely criticizing the decision on Geo News.

"There is a conflict of interest that will be raised after this verdict. When I was attorney-general, I had told a court that the case against Musharraf was not legally sound since the judges who were hearing it had been restored to their positions illegally.

"The judges dismissed by Musharraf, and afterwards restored by an order of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, are both unconstitutional acts. The act of removing judges was unconstitutional, just like the restoration was, which did not follow the proper procedure," he reasoned.

Qadir said that the whole trial was "biased and even the legal team of Musharraf misguided the former president by advising to pursue delaying tactics in the case".

"Musharraf should have appeared in court and argued his case," he said.

Imran Khan the immediate beneficiary of verdict: Sohail Warraich

Veteran journalist Sohail Warraich wasn't surprised with the death sentence. "It was clear from the beginning that whenever a dictator would be tried under Article 6 of the Constitution, they would be sentenced to death if the treason was proved, since the law was very clear in this regard," he said.

He further said that the decision "has strengthened democracy", adding that "the immediate beneficiary will be Imran Khan. Anyone trying to remove PTI government illegally would have to contend with this ruling."

Verdict is important even if not executed: Muneeb Farooq

Another senior journalist Muneeb Farooq said there was lot of symbolic value attached to this verdict. "Under Article 6, a dictator has been sentenced. Whether the verdict is executed or not, the court decision holds significant importance," he remarked on the verdict.

Farooq dismissed suggestions that proper legal procedure was not followed in the case. "Regarding legal procedures in the case, Musharraf stayed outside Pakistan and his complaint will remain that he was not heard. However, the court did give him the opportunity to speak," he said.

Farooq noted that the court had asked Musharraf to record his statement in the trial via video link, but the former president had not done so. "After the detailed verdict is issued, we will know whether Musharraf was sentenced to death on two counts or just one," Farooq opined.