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Pakistan government to prosecute Musharraf for high treason, says Minister

Last updated on: August 06, 2009 15:37 IST

The Pakistan government will prosecute former military ruler Pervez Musharraf and his collaborators for "high treason" for violating the constitution by imposing emergency in 2007. The Parliament will pass a resolution to this effect soon, a minister has said.

"The National Assembly, while passing the resolution, will also have to distinguish whether only Pervez Musharraf was responsible for committing this act of high treason or others who abetted him were also responsible," Minister of State for Law Afzal Sindhu has said. "The federal government will act according to the findings and suggestions of the assembly," Sindhu told The News daily. "Such a case will be filed in a sessions court in Islamabad," he said.

Pakistan's Supreme Court has ruled that Musharraf's act of imposing emergency was unconstitutional and illegal, raising the possibility of him being tried for treason. However, under the constitution, only the federal government can initiate such a case. Sindhu said according to the High Treason (Punishment) Act of 1973 and a subsequent law of 1976, a person designated by the federal government will file the complaint in a sessions court.

"When the complaint will be filed in the sessions court, the proceedings of the case will be the same as those of a simple case of murder or some dispute," Sindhu said. "A sessions court can pass a death sentence to Musharraf and others (if others are named by parliament). And like other simple cases, the punishment given by a sessions court could be challenged in a high court and then in the Supreme Court." At the end of all court proceedings, the President has the constitutional power to grant pardon to a person sentenced to death, Sindhu said.

The News reported that except for a few top leaders of the ruling Pakistan People's Party and two or three federal ministers, an overwhelming majority of the party wants the "merciless trial of the military dictator who twice abrogated and breached the constitution". A senior party leader said not a single member of the PPP will oppose a parliamentary resolution for trying Musharraf for treason. Meanwhile, the main opposition PML-N has said it intends to move a resolution during the current session of the National Assembly or lower house of parliament to seek Musharraf's trial for treason. "The PML-N has decided to move a resolution in the National Assembly to invoke Article 6 (of the constitution) against Musharraf for breaching the constitution of the country," Leader of Opposition and senior PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told the House yesterday.

Khan also asked the government to take action against Musharraf for violating the constitution. "The PML-N leadership has taken a decision to invoke Article 6 against Musharraf if no initiative comes from the government side," Khan said. Khan said it was clearly mentioned in Article 6 of the constitution that anyone subverting the constitution would be tried for committing high treason. Responding to Khans comments, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said his government would back any resolution on this issue moved in parliament.

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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