x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Pakistan court calls Musharraf to answer allegations of treason

Pakistan's former military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, has been ordered to appear before the supreme court to answer allegations that he committed treason while in power, an offence that carries the death sentence.

ISLAMABAD // Pakistan's former military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, was ordered to appear today before the supreme court to answer allegations that he committed treason while in power, an offence that carries the death sentence.

The summons was issued yesterday. The court was responding to several private petitions in which the allegations were made that he committed treason by suspending the constitution and sacking senior judges, including the chief justice, while in office.

Judge Jawad Khawaja said it was the "duty and the obligation" of the state to take effective measures against Mr Musharraf "and others who subverted the constitution".

"It is necessary to issue notice to the respondents in these petitions. The office shall ensure service of notice to the respondents for tomorrow," Mr Khawaja told the court.

The judge ordered police around the country to "serve notice" to Mr Musharraf to appear. He is understood to have been in the capital, where he has a farmhouse, since last week.

Mr Musharraf seized power in a military coup in 1999 but was forced to step down almost a decade later under the threat of impeachment by Pakistan's main political parties. He left the country in 2008 and spent more than four years in self-imposed exile before returning last month to contest the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The former president has experienced a bumpy ride since his return. He was met by only a couple of thousand people at the airport in Karachi when his flight touched down from Dubai, a sign of how little support many analysts say he now enjoys in Pakistan.

The Taliban has threatened to kill him, and he faces a series of legal charges, including some related to the 2007 assassination of the former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.

However, he registered a victory on Sunday when he was given approval to run for parliament from a remote district in northern Pakistan.

But judges rejected his nomination in several other districts, and lawyers have said they planned to go to the high court to challenge his right to stand as a candidate.

Pakistan's political system allows a candidate to run for several seats simultaneously.

Mr Musharraf's ability to run, however, could also be complicated by the treason allegations against him, though it remains to be seen whether he will actually be charged and convicted.

* With additional reporting by Agence France-Presse