Pakistan’s armed forces issue statement questioning how soldier who served country could be considered a traitor
Pakistan’s armed forces, in a statement issued by the Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR), on Tuesday said the high treason verdict against former Army chief Pervez Musharraf had been received with a “lot of pain and anguish by rank and file of Pakistan Armed Forces.”
Posted on Twitter, the statement followed a meeting of the top military leadership at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. “An ex-Army Chief, Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee and President of Pakistan, who has served the country for over 40 years, fought wars for the defense of the country can surely never be a traitor,” said the ISPR statement. “The due legal process seems to have been ignored including constitution of special court, denial of fundamental right of self defense, undertaking individual specific proceedings and concluding the case in haste.”
It added: “Armed Forces of Pakistan expect that justice will be dispensed in line with Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.”
The statement appears to ignore that Musharraf was granted several chances to appear before court—all of which he ignored. He was eventually declared an absconder, a designation that permits court to try and convict him in absentia. Under the law, the former president can now submit himself to court, after which he can seek a new trial. There can also be no appeal unless the convict submits himself to the sentence announced by the court.
The ISPR statement followed a special court in Islamabad declaring Musharraf guilty of high treason for abrogating the Constitution in 2007 when he declared a state of emergency. He was sentenced to death under Article 6 of the Constitution. This is the first time in Pakistan’s history that a former Army chief has been sentenced to death.
The court was forced to try and sentence Musharraf in absentia, as he has been in self-exile since 2016, when he was allowed to leave on bail to seek medical treatment abroad on assurances that he would return “within a few weeks.” Repeated attempts to convince him to return have been rebuffed, with his lawyers claiming he would not return without the assurance of foolproof security.