Monday, September 15, 2014


Pakistan

Mapping Out Pervez Musharraf's Legal Troubles

A Pakistani man places a shoe on an image of former President Pervez Musharraf during a protest in Quetta last month.
A Pakistani man places a shoe on an image of former President Pervez Musharraf during a protest in Quetta last month.
By RFE/RL
Former military leader General Pervez Musharraf's return to Pakistan after years of self-exile has exposed him to a number of criminal cases related to his nine-year rule. RFE/RL looks at the events, accusations, and courts involved.

Background

Musharraf has for years faced accusations of crimes allegedly committed during his 1999-2008 rule, but for the most part managed to avoid facing prosecution thanks to his exile abroad. That all changed in late March, when the former president returned to Pakistan with the aim of running in Pakistan's parliamentary elections, set for May 11.

By all appearances, Musharraf miscalculated badly in his assumption that he would be greeted warmly upon his return and ride his support back into public office.

In each of the four constituencies where he had applied to run as a candidate for parliament, his candidacy was denied by electoral tribunals. The reasons cited for the rejections included accusations that he had violated Pakistan's constitution during his time as president.

Specifically, the allegations stem from Musharraf's imposition of emergency rule and dismissal and confinement of several high-ranking judges in 2007.

Those allegations comprise the basis of calls for Musharraf to face treason charges, which can carry the death penalty. But there are numerous other allegations out there as well relating to negligence and unconstitutional acts, among others.

Senate

Pakistan's Senate passed two resolutions -- one in January and another in March after Musharraf's return to the country -- calling on the government to arrest and prosecute Musharraf for treason under Article 6 of the Pakistani Constitution. The treason case centers on the argument that Musharraf's alleged unconstitutional acts were against the state.

Caretaker Government

Due to a unique element of Pakistani politics, a caretaker government was formed to run the country in the weeks preceding the May 11 general elections.

This government, which inherited the resolutions handed down by the Senate, on April 22 announced that it would not pursue treason charges against Musharraf.

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court, in an order issued in July 2009, declared Musharraf a usurper with respect to his 2007 declaration of emergency rule and dismissal of high-ranking judges, including a Supreme Court justice.

The court is considering multiple petitions for it to decide whether Musharraf can be tried for treason for those acts under Article 6 of the constitution.

The Supreme Court is not considering specific charges, but has the authority to tell the government -- caretaker or elected -- to initiate treason charges.

Treason cases can be heard solely by a lower, trial court, but only the state can move such a case against individuals and groups.

Islamabad High Court

The Islamabad High Court is at the center of charges relating to Musharraf's decision to declare emergency rule and the dismissal of judges in 2007.

During an April 18 bail-extension hearing, the court denied bail and added the charge of terrorism to those being heard by the court.

In a detailed "judgment sheet," Justice Shakat Aziz Siddiuqi wrote that Musharraf's actions against judges were "not an ordinary act, rather an act of terrorism."

The court ordered Musharraf's arrest, prompting the former ruler to escape the court and seek refuge at his farmhouse outside Islamabad.

Islamabad District Magistrate

Musharraf was arrested and taken from his home on April 19 to face the Islamabad District Magistrate.

This court ordered Musharraf to be returned to his farmhouse, but under house arrest. It also sent his case to the Islamabad Antiterrorism Court on the basis of the Islamabad High Court's ruling that his dismissal and detention of judges amounted to terrorism.

Islamabad Antiterrorism Court

On April 20, this court in the federal capital ordered Musharraf to be placed under two weeks of house arrest.

The court will eventually weigh charges against Musharraf under the statutes of the Antiterrorism Act, a Pakistani law adopted in 1997.

If Musharraf were to be found guilty of charges that his dismissal and detention of judges was a terrorist act, it would buttress the argument for him to be tried for treason.

Rawalpindi Branch Of The Lahore High Court

In Rawalpindi, Musharraf has been charged with negligence in relation to his alleged failure to provide protection for his political rival, Benzair Bhutto. The former prime minister was assassinated in Rawalpindi in 2007 while campaigning for parliamentary elections.

On April 24, the Rawalpindi Branch of the Lahore High Court denied Musharraf a bail extension, which allowed for his arrest.

Rawalpindi Antiterrorism Court

The criminal case against Musharraf in relation to the Bhutto assassination is being heard in the Rawalpindi Antiterrorism Court.

On April 25 the court ordered Musharraf's arrest. On April 26 it ordered Musharraf to be placed under four days of house arrest to give authorities adequate time to question him.

Akbar Khan Bugti Assassination Case

In 2012, a court in the southwestern Balochistan Province issued arrest warrants for Musharraf because he was named as one of the main suspects in the 2006 assassination of a senior politician, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti.

A team of Balochistan police detectives are expected to formally investigate Musharraf's possible role in the assassination.

Red Mosque Case

In April, a judicial commission appointed by the Pakistani Supreme Court was tasked with investigating Musharraf's role in the 2007 raid against Islamabad's Red Mosque.

The commission concluded that Musharraf and his former prime minister, Shaukat Aziz, ultimately made the "final decision" to storm the mosque in July 2007. More than 100 people died in the weeklong fighting that ensued.

The commission report, however, has not held the two leaders directly responsible for the bloodshed.

Compiled by RFE/RL correspondent Abubakar Siddique

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