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Pak CJ says Musharraf can be charged for high treason by Parliament

By Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
July 30, 2009 20:14 IST
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As Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf defied summons and failed to show up before the country's highest court for the second day on Thursday, Chief Justice Iftikhar M Chaudhary has observed that the ex-President can be tried for "high treason" by Parliament.

The Chief Justice also observed that the Parliament can also annul all ordinances issued post-emergency imposed by Musharraf. But, Chaudhary, who himself was the victim of more than 60 Judges sacked by the former army chief, however, turned down a plea to launch a treason case against Musharraf. The Musharraf case has become high-profile at a time when Pakistani political establishment is struggling to contain an armed insurgency by Taliban and rift between political parties over these issues.

The Supreme Court has summoned the former President to explain his decision to impose the emergency in 2007 and sacking of more than 60 judges. Justice Chaudhary was responding to the main petitioner Hamid Khan, former president of the Supreme Court bar association, who pleaded that the apex court can initiate proceedings against Musharraf for high treason for his defying the court summon.

The Chief Justice while observing that the court cannot sentence anyone in the case, declared the steps taken on November 3, 2007, as "unconstitutional". Chaudhary said as many as 41 steps taken by Musharraf after imposing the emergency were "unconstitutional". The Chief Justice had a dig at the democratic government saying that it had waited for more than a year-and-half to cancel these "unconstitutional" steps. Another judge of the 14-member bench Justice Shahid Siddiqui concurred with the Chief Justice, saying that the trial of Musharraf was upto Parliament and nation. The observation of Chaudhary could have allayed Musharraf, whose legal aides had expressed fears that the Pakistan Supreme Court could charge the former ruler for high treason for not appearing before it to explain his decisions.

Malik Qayyum, who was attorney-general under Musharraf regime and has often advised him on the legal issues, had said, "it (Supreme Court) can initiate high treason proceedings against Musharraf on its own." Musharraf is presently staying in London.

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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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