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Embattled Musharraf resigns as Pakistan's president
Musharraf made the announcement in a nationally televised address a day after a committee of Pakistan's ruling coalition finalized a list of impeachment charges against the former army chief. The charges included violating the constitution and misconduct.
During his lengthy address, Musharraf dismissed the charges against him, calling them "baseless" and "a fraud against the nation." He said he was stepping down because he did not want Pakistan's "dignity to suffer."
"After consulting my legal advisers and nearest political supporters … in the interest of the nation, I resign from my post today," he said. "I hand over my future to the people's hands, and let them do justice."
Musharraf used his speech to defend his political and military record, citing his handling of Pakistan's economy, as well as education and infrastructure programs he instituted during his nine-year reign as president.
"For 44 years, I have protected this nation without thinking of my life," he said. "I hope the nation and the people will forgive my mistakes."
Choice for successor uncertain
Musharraf, a former general, had been facing intense pressure to quit from political opponents who defeated his allies in February's parliamentary elections.
Musharraf said he would submit his resignation to the speaker of the National Assembly later Monday but it was not immediately clear whether it would become effective the same day. The chairman of Pakistan's Senate, Mohammedmian Soomro, will take over as acting president when Musharraf steps down, Law Minister Farooq Naek said.
But it remains an open question whom parliament will elect to succeed Musharraf, partly because the ruling coalition has vowed to strip the presidency of much of its power.
There is speculation that the leaders of the two main ruling coalition parties — Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif — are interested in the role, although neither has openly acknowledged as much.
After Musharraf made his announcement, television footage showed groups of people celebrating in the streets in towns across Pakistan.
"It is very pleasing to know that Musharraf is no more," said Mohammed Saeed, a shopkeeper among a crowd of people dancing to drum beats and hugging each other at an intersection in the northwestern city of Peshawar.
Pakistan's stock market and currency both rose strongly on hopes that the country was bound for political stability.
Came to power in 1999 coup
Musharraf, a key U.S. ally in the war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, came to power in a 1999 bloodless coup. He stepped down as army chief last year to run for a third term in office but still maintains close ties to the military.
His reputation suffered last year when he ousted dozens of judges and imposed emergency rule. He said at the time the measures were necessary to protect Pakistan from extremism and political instability. Upon news of Musharraf's resignation, lawyers began pressuring the ruling parties to restore the ousted judges.
Following Musharraf's address, Information Minister Sherry Rehman called the president's departure "a victory for democratic forces."
"Today, the shadow of dictatorship that has prevailed for long over this country, that chapter has been closed," Rehman said.
Musharraf could still be charged
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said leaders of the ruling coalition would discuss later Monday whether to prosecute Musharraf in court on charges that were being planned for the impeachment process.
ɺ step in the right direction. Pakistan's return to parliamentary democracy, an independent judiciary, and a system based on the rule of law is welcome.'
Sharif's party insists he should be tried for treason, which carries a maximum punishment of death.
"The crimes of Musharraf against the nation, against the judiciary, against democracy and against rule of law in the country cannot be forgiven by any party or individual," party spokesman Ahsan Iqbal said Monday.
But several Pakistani media agencies reported Musharraf and the coalition were discussing an agreement that would enable him to avoid facing charges by stepping down.
If a deal is made, it is unclear whether Musharraf would stay in Pakistan and live at his farm in the outskirts of Islamabad, or go into exile in a country like Saudi Arabia or Turkey.
Earlier this month, coalition party leader Zardari, the widower of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto who now heads the Pakistan Peoples Party, announced he and his partner Sharif, the former prime minister, had agreed to seek the impeachment proceedings in parliament.
Musharraf accused the coalition of creating an "atmosphere of confrontation and vendetta" against him.
"Unfortunately, all my appeals for reconciliation … all my efforts failed in this direction," he said Monday.
The ruling coalition, which holds a majority in Pakistan's parliament since its victory in February's elections, had expressed confidence in recent days it would be able to get two-thirds of the vote in both houses and have Musharraf removed.
What is the case about?
In November 2007, Gen Musharraf suspended the constitution and imposed emergency rule - a move which sparked protests. He resigned in 2008 to avoid the threat of impeachment.
When Nawaz Sharif - an old rival whom he deposed in the 1999 coup - was elected prime minister in 2013, he initiated a treason trial against Gen Musharraf and in March 2014 the former general was charged for high treason.
Gen Musharraf argued the case was politically motivated and that the actions he took in 2007 were agreed by the government and cabinet. But his arguments were turned down by the courts and he was accused of acting illegally.
According to the Pakistani constitution, anyone convicted of high treason could face the death penalty. Gen Musharraf travelled to Dubai in 2016 after a travel ban was lifted and he has refused to appear before the court, despite multiple orders.
The three-member bench had reserved its verdict in the long-running case last month, but was stopped from announcing it by a petition filed by the federal government to the Islamabad High Court.
Musharraf Resigns, Leaving A Shaky Pakistan in His Wake
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf resigned, handing leadership of this volatile nuclear-armed nation to a divided government that is struggling to tackle Islamic militancy and an economic downturn.
Mr. Musharraf's resignation, announced in a national television address Monday, marks a victory for the governing coalition of his political opponents that was preparing to impeach him. Yet it also deprives the government of its scapegoat for the country's woes. It leaves the coalition alone to deliver on the promise of better governance in a new democratic era, which Mr. Musharraf helped usher in with parliamentary elections in February.
"Now, the entire burden will be on their shoulders," said Athar Minallah, a Supreme Court lawyer. He, like others in his profession, had rallied against Mr. Musharraf's efforts in March 2007 to oust Pakistan's chief justice, a move that began the groundswell of opposition against the president. "If they make a mistake, they will become history -- like Pervez Musharraf."
The Bush administration, which had regularly hailed Mr. Musharraf as a leading ally in the fight against terrorism, did little to keep him in office. U.S. officials came to view him as a spent force after he declared a state of emergency in November in an ultimately unsuccessful bid to sideline opponents.
But the U.S. administration is concerned about fading cooperation with Pakistan in battling al Qaeda and Islamic extremism. Amid Pakistan's disarray, militants have had freer rein to use its territory as a staging ground for attacking American soldiers in Afghanistan.
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Gen. Pervez Musharraf Resigns: Video and Pictorial
This post has been updated to add news photos from this momentous day in Pakistan’s political history. The pictures speak eloquently of the moods and thoughts of the day. (Scroll down to see the video of Gen. Musharraf’s resignation speech).
Participate in a poll on what might be Pakistan’s future post-Musharraf, here.
Here is a Pervez Musharraf time-line, published in The News:
August 1943: Born in Delhi, India
1964: Joins Pakistani army.
1998: Becomes army chief of staff.
October 1999: Seizes power in a bloodless military coup, overthrowing the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif. In response, the Commonwealth suspends Pakistan’s membership.
June 20 2001: Makes himself president, replacing Rafiq Tarar, while remaining head of the army. Tarar is forced out of office when the parliament that elected him is dissolved.
July 2001: Holds first meeting with the Indian prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, at Agra in India. No progress is made because of differences over the disputed territory of Kashmir.
September 2001: George Bush courts Musharraf, asking him to join him in his “war on terror” and help defeat the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan. The US president promises Pakistan $1bn in aid.
April 2002: Wins a referendum giving him another five years in office. Observers criticise the referendum as blighted by irregularities.
May 2002: Pakistan test fires three medium-range surface-to-surface missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Musharraf insists his country would not be the one to initiate war.
August 2002: Consolidates his power still further, giving himself the right to dismiss an elected parliament.
October 2002: Pakistan’s first general election since Musharraf seized power in 1999 results in a hung parliament.
November 2002: Mir Zafarullah Jamali becomes the first civilian prime minister since 1999. He is a member of a Musharraf-supporting party.
November 2003: Pakistan’s National Assembly meets for the first time since 1999.
December 2003: Musharraf promises to step down as head of the army by January 2005.
May 2004: Pakistan is readmitted to the Commonwealth.
December 2004: Musharraf announces he will stay on as head of the army.
August 2005: Pakistan tests its first nuclear-capable cruise missile.
March 2007: Musharraf suspends the chief justice, Iftakar Mohammed Chaudhry, triggering a wave of anger across the country and the first joint protests held by the parties of exiled former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif.
October 2007: Signs a corruption amnesty, opening the way for Bhutto’s return and a possible power-sharing agreement. Within hours of Bhutto’s arrival back in the country, bombers attack a Bhutto rally in Karachi, killing more than 100 people.
November 2007: Declares a state of emergency, rounding up opposition leaders at gunpoint. In the same month, Musharraf quits as head of the army, becoming a civilian president.
December 15 2007: Lifts state of emergency and announces plans to go ahead with parliamentary elections scheduled for January 8.
December 27 2007: Benazir Bhutto is assassinated at an election rally in Rawalpindi.
January 2008: Elections postponed until February 18.
February 2008: The two main opposition parties gain a clear majority in the elections.
August 2008: The two main parties strike a deal to impeach Musharraf if parliament backs the move.
August 18 2008: Musharraf announces his resignation
Electoral losses and resignation
In early 2007 Musharraf began seeking reelection to the presidency. However, because he remained head of the military, opposition parties and then the Pakistan Supreme Court objected on constitutional grounds. In March Musharraf dismissed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, which sparked a general strike of Pakistani lawyers and outbreaks of violent protest in various parts of the country the Supreme Court overturned the dismissal in July, and Chaudhry was reinstated. In October an electoral college consisting of the parliament and four provincial legislatures voted to give Musharraf another five-year term, although opposition members refused to participate in the proceedings. After the Supreme Court delayed the pronouncement of this outcome (in order to review its constitutionality), Musharraf declared a state of emergency in early November. The constitution was once again suspended, members of the Supreme Court (including Chaudhry) were dismissed, and the activities of independent news media organizations were curtailed. Later in the month, the Supreme Court, reconstituted with Musharraf appointees, upheld his reelection Musharraf subsequently resigned his military commission and was sworn into the presidency as a civilian.
In the fall of 2007 Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto—who had also been living in exile—were permitted to return to Pakistan, and each began campaigning for upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for early January 2008. At the end of December, however, Bhutto was assassinated at a political rally in Rawalpindi, an act that stunned Pakistanis and set off riots and rampages in different parts of the country. Musharraf, having only just lifted the state of emergency, had to again place the armed forces on special alert, and he was forced to postpone the election until mid-February.
The outcome of the voting was seen as a rejection of Musharraf and his rule his PML-Q party finished a distant third behind the PPP (now led by Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto’s widower), which captured about one-third of the parliamentary seats up for election, and Sharif’s party, the PML-N, with about one-fourth of the seats. In March the PPP and PML-N formed a coalition government. Yousaf Raza Gilani, a prominent member of the PPP and a former National Assembly speaker, was elected prime minister.
Disagreements emerged within the governing coalition in the months following its formation, particularly regarding the reinstatement of the Supreme Court judges Musharraf had dismissed late the previous year, and these disputes threatened to destabilize the alliance. Nevertheless, in August 2008 the coalition moved to begin impeachment charges against Musharraf, citing grave constitutional violations on August 18, faced with the impending proceedings, Musharraf resigned.
Doctor Bulldog & Ronin
This has some major implications for America’s war on terrorism. Will the United States continue pumping money into Pakistan, or will the U.S. finally give up on a lost cause and go after al-Qaeda in the “Tribal” regions of northern Pakistan? Your guess is a s good as mine.
Pakistan’s President Musharraf resigns to avoid impeachment
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf announced in a televised address to the nation Monday that he had decided to resign after nine years in power to avoid the threat of impeachment. (UPDATED)
The former army chief, who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999, was under huge pressure from the governing coalition to step down before it launched the first impeachment proceedings in Pakistan’s 61-year history.
Musharraf made the shock announcement after denying that any of the impeachment charges against him could stand and launching into a lengthy defense of his time in power.
The long-running crisis surrounding Musharraf’s future has heightened concern in the United States and other allies about the stability of the nuclear-armed Muslim state, which is in the front line of the campaign against Islamist militancy.
“After viewing the situation and consulting legal advisers and political allies, with their advice I have decided to resign,” Musharraf, wearing a sober suit and tie, said near the end of his one-hour address. “I leave my future in the hands of the people.”
“Not a single charge in the impeachment can stand against me,” Musharraf said. “No charge can be proved against me because I never did anything for myself, it was all for Pakistan.”
He said that there was now law and order in the country, that human rights and democracy had been improved and that Pakistan was now a crucial country internationally.
Musharraf later received a final guard of honor from troops at the presidency as a brass band played the national anthem.
Musharraf’s popularity slumped last year amid his attempts to oust the country’s chief justice and then during a wave of Taliban suicide bombings that killed more than 1,000 people, including former premier Benazir Bhutto.
He imposed a state of emergency in November last year to force his re-election to another five-year term through the Supreme Court, but his political allies were trounced at the February polls.
The coalition of parties, which won the February election, led by Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party, finally overcame months of divisions and agreed to impeach Musharraf on Aug. 7.
It piled on the pressure with no-confidence votes in Pakistan’s four provincial assemblies last week. Then on Sunday it said it had drawn up impeachment charges and would lodge them in parliament this week.
The charges reportedly included violation of the constitution and gross misconduct.
Musharraf’s spokesman had repeatedly denied in recent days that he was about to quit, and it was not immediately clear what would happen next.
But a lack of apparent support from Pakistan’s army, which he left in November, apparently made other options — including dissolving parliament or even declaring another state of emergency — impossible.
The U.S. said granting asylum to Musharraf was not currently under consideration. The earlier reports suggested an exile deal could send him to Turkey, where he spent some of his childhood.
Western allies want Pakistan to resolve the crisis over Musharraf so it can deal with the fight against Taliban and al Qaeda militants in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, where nearly 500 people have died in the past week.
The government is also struggling to deal with a severe economic crunch.
Cheering crowds poured into the streets in major cities across the country — the second most populous Islamic nation and the only one with an atom bomb — after he stepped down.
“The nation is so happy,” university student Saba Gul was quoted by AFP as saying in the eastern city of Lahore, as people embraced and handed out sweets.
The United States praised Monday Musharraf for his role in the fight against terrorism.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Musharraf “one of the world’s most committed partners in the war against terrorism and extremism”, after his resignation.
She said the United States would continue working with the Pakistani government and political leaders to fight extremism, address energy and food shortages, and improve economic stability.
Afghanistan said Monday it hoped the resignation of Musharraf in neighboring Pakistan would lead to a strengthening of the government and democracy in the country.
“We hope that the resignation of President Musharraf… leads to a strengthening of the civilian government and democracy in Pakistan,” foreign ministry spokesman Sultan Ahmad Baheen told AFP.
“Afghanistan is in favor of a democratic and stable Pakistan which is based on the rule of law,” Baheen said.
Relations between Musharraf and Afghan President Hamid Karzai have been tense over a surge in Islamic extremist violence affecting both countries.
Karzai has repeatedly accused Pakistan’s intelligence services of supporting a Taliban-led insurgency against his administration and Afghan officials have accused Islamabad of not doing enough to clamp down on militant sanctuaries.
Pervez Musharraf resigns as Pakistan's president
Pervez Musharraf has announced his resignation as the President of Pakistan while attacking the government's plan to impeach him.
"After consultations with legal advisers and close political supporters and on their advice, I'm taking the decision of resigning," Mr Musharraf said, in a lengthy televised address to the nation. "My resignation will go to the speaker of the National Assembly today. I leave my future in the hands of people."
Mr Musharraf was facing impeachment charges instigated by the coalition government, led by the party of the late prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in December, over alleged violation of the constitution and gross misconduct.
The President, who came to power in a bloodless coup in 1999 as head of the army, insisted that the charges his accusers were planning to level against him would not have been proved.
"Not a single charge in the impeachment can stand against me," he said. "No charge can be proved against me because I never did anything for myself, it was all for Pakistan. Unfortunately, some elements acting for vested interests levelled false allegations against me and deceived people."
It has emerged that officials from Saudi Arabia, the US and Britain have been negotiating indemnity for Mr Musharraf in return for his swift departure.
Mr Musharraf provoked public riots last November when he sacked the Chief Justice, Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, and about 60 other judges in an attempt to put down dissent from the legal establishment.
The move backfired, leading to Mr Musharraf declaring a state of emergency and forcing his re-election to another five-year presidential term through the Supreme Court. However he bolstered the position of his political opponents, a coalition of whom, led by the late Ms Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), then beat his party in a parliamentary election in February.
The President, who has been a close partner of the US in their attempts to curb terrorism in the Middle East, stepped down as head of the army after his party's electoral defeat, but continued to struggle to placate his critics as a civilian leader.
However in his resignation speech he robustly defended his record. "People have said my policies that during the last nine years our economic problems and electricity shortages were due to our policies. It is absolutely wrong and deception for the country over the past nine years have been wrong - they were wrong," he said. "My critics must not make things worse for Pakistan."
"On the map of the world, Pakistan is now an important country, by the grace of Allah," he said.
Mr Musharraf insisted he had always led the country in "good faith," especially in the face of economic problems and the threat of Islamic militancy. "Pakistan first has been my philosophy," he said.
Pakistan's powerful army, which has ruled the country for more than half its 61-year history, has kept out of the public controversy over its old chief.
Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, said on Sunday that Mr Musharraf had been a "good ally", but she declined to say whether he would qualify for US asylum if he stepped down. "This is an issue that is not on the table," Miss Rice said.
One of the favourites to replace Mr Musharraf as president is Asif Zardari, the co-chairman of the PPP and widower of the late Ms Bhutto. If he chooses to stand, he will face an election with any other candidates within 30 days, according to the constitution.
He is likely to face competition from Nawaz Sharif, another former prime minister, whose Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) party has acted in an anti-Musharraf coalition with the PPP this year despite a long-standing rivalry between the two. Pakistani commentators have also speculated that Asfandyar Wali Khan, an ethnic Pashtun leader whose liberal Awami National Party is also part of the coalition government, might get the job.
The election will be decided by an electoral college comprising members of both houses of parliament and the four provincial assemblies. In the interim, Mohammadmian Soomro, the chairman of the Senate - the upper house of parliament, will become acting president.
Alongside the government, the next president will be forced to urgently address the country's economic situation, which has suffered badly under problems caused by the world credit crisis. Inflation is at its highest in years, and trade and fiscal deficits are widening. High oil prices have depleted foreign reserves while the rupee has lost about a quarter of its value this year.
Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf Resigns
The increasingly unpopular President was a US ally and leaves a divided government to pick a successor and face other mounting problems.
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LAHORE, Pakistan (CS Monitor) - The United States lost a stalwart ally in its war on terror Monday when Pervez Musharraf resigned as president to avoid a looming impeachment battle.
After seizing power nine years ago, the once-popular leader initially supported Afghanistan's Taliban, only to turn his back on them to support the US after Sept. 11, 2001. He survived several assassination attempts and watched his support plunge as he stalled on democratic reforms and suspended independent-minded judges.
Pakistan's divided government must now pick a successor while also tackling a growing threat from militants and a sputtering economy.
But the mood Monday was one of exhilaration, with many cheering the president's long-sought exit. Across the country, Pakistanis rejoiced on the streets.
"This is a historically great day for Pakistan and a triumph for democracy," says Samina Ahmed, South Asia project director of the International Crisis Group. "It is the first time a dictator has been forced to step down by a democratically elected government."
Musharraf - who, since February, has been sidelined in a democratically elected government - addressed the nation in a long and often emotional televised address. He held his announcement until the end.
"This is not time for individual bravado. I lose or win in impeachment proceedings the Pakistani nation will be the loser," said the somber-looking former Army chief. "After taking advice from my supporters and friends, I have decided to resign in the best interests of the nation."
Pakistanis have been waiting for this news since Aug. 8, when the leaders of its government - former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of the PML-N Party and Asif Ali Zardari of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) - announced they were seeking to impeach Musharraf for imposing a state of emergency last November and other alleged crimes.
The suspense has built in recent days amid myriad rumors of an imminent resignation and his determination to fight impeachment. Some even speculated that Musharraf would use his presidential powers to dissolve parliament.
It was unclear Monday whether the government would seek to press further charges against him or, indeed, whether it would provide him with the security that the former Army chief will require to remain in Pakistan. Musharraf has been the target of at least four assassination attempts during his time in power.
Many had regarded the US as an obvious destination once Musharraf had fallen from power. But on Sunday, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that granting asylum to Musharraf was not "on the table."
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"My own guess is that was diplomatic language, meaning his options are much more limited," says Ms. Ahmed.
The Bush administration has distanced itself from Pakistan amid Musharraf's political decline and concerns that he wasn't doing enough to prevent the northwest region bordering Afghanistan from becoming a stronghold for Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
It is a long and humiliating fall for the man who came to power nine years ago on a tide of popular support.
When Musharraf - a sporty and respected soldier who won gallantry medals during Pakistan's 1965 war against India - ousted then-Prime Minister Sharif in a bloodless coup in 1999, opinion polls showed 70 percent of the public was behind him.
Pakistanis had become disenchanted with the allegedly corrupt civilian rule of Sharif, whom Musharraf put on trial for corruption and sent into exile. It was Sharif who pushed hardest in recent days for Musharraf's exit.
Musharraf became the fourth military ruler of Pakistan, which has been governed by the Army for more than half its 60-year existence.
The US soon conscripted this religious moderate as a key ally in its fight against terrorism. His government was the biggest recipient of US aid in Asia after Afghanistan.
He also did much to build bridges between India and Pakistan, initiating a cease-fire across the border in 2003 and pushing for peace talks, especially over the disputed region of Kashmir.
But the tide began to turn against Musharraf last year. A violent Army siege against the radical Red Mosque in Islamabad, in which 105 people were killed triggered a surge in Islamic militancy in Pakistan. Today, many Pakistanis attribute the country's militancy problem to Musharraf's close alliance with the US.
Last November, Musharraf ousted dozens of judges and imposed a state of emergency when the Supreme Court met to rule on the legality of his reelection as president while still Army chief.
When the PPP, PML-N, and other parties won parliamentary elections in February, speculation arose as to whether Musharraf would eventually be forced out.
A fractured government moves on
Having effected Musharraf's departure, Pakistan's government faces a slew of difficult tasks. The economy is growing at its slowest rate since 2003 and the government's peace treaties with militants in the northwest have crumbled into frequent, deadly clashes.
The government must also decide whether to reinstate the more than 60 judges whom Musharraf suspended - a move Mr. Zardari has wavered on, but which Sharif supports.
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"His going will allow the transition to democracy," says Ahsan Iqbal, education minister and a senior spokesman of Sharif's PML-N Party. "It will bring internal harmony and restore stability to the country."
There are concerns, however, that the government is not up to the task, having proved itself inefficient and fractured during its few months of rule. When Sharif and Zardari announced they were seeking to impeach Musharraf, it was a rare moment of unity between the former bitter allies.
Though the PPP is currently Pakistan's biggest party, many here expect Sharif's PML-N to take that spot because of the support it will probably receive from members of Musharraf's PML-Q Party. Musharraf formed the PML-Q out of the PML-N when he ousted Sharif in 1999.
The government will now be tested by the election of a new president, a process that must be undertaken by an electoral college taken from the lower and upper houses within a month.
There have been reports Zardari will push for a president from the PPP Sharif is known to oppose this idea.
But first, the government plans to strip the president's powers by altering the Constitution. This will require two-thirds support in both houses of parliament, raising the prospect of another long squabble over how to reform the presidency - and who then should take the job.
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Pervez Musharraf, Former Pakistani Leader, Sentenced to Death
The Pakistani court’s sentence is unlikely to be carried out because Mr. Musharraf is no longer in the country.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — After years of delays and disruptions, a special court in Pakistan on Tuesday sentenced the country’s former military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, to death in a treason case.
But the sentence is more symbolic in nature, as Mr. Musharraf is currently in self-imposed exile in Dubai and is unlikely to return to the country. Nevertheless, the sentence marked the first time in the country’s history that a military dictator has been held accountable for his actions while in power.
A three-member special court panel announced that Mr. Musharraf “has been found guilty of Article 6 for violation of the Constitution of Pakistan,” namely, high treason and subverting the Constitution. Two judges decided in favor of the guilty verdict while one disagreed.
Mr. Musharraf, 76, was accused of subverting the country’s Constitution in 2007 when he imposed a state of emergency in the country in an attempt to thwart a political opposition movement and also fired much of the judiciary. The movement had greatly weakened Mr. Musharraf, and he resigned in 2008 under a threat of impeachment.
The treason case was initiated in 2013 by the government of Nawaz Sharif, a former prime minister who has a history of animosity toward the former military ruler. Mr. Musharraf toppled Mr. Sharif’s government in 1999 in a bloodless coup and ruled until 2008.
But as Mr. Musharraf’s fortunes tumbled, Mr. Sharif’s rose he managed to make a political comeback and returned to power in 2013. Within months, his government announced that it was initiating a treason case against the former military dictator.
Mr. Musharraf has denied the charges and insisted that the case against him was a political vendetta. Officials in his political party, All Pakistan Muslim League, said they planned to appeal against the court sentence.
Hours after the verdict, the top military commanders met at an emergency session at the General Headquarters of the Pakistani army in Rawalpindi and in a sharply worded statement expressed solidarity with their former chief.
The military said that the court decision was received with a “lot of pain and anguish by the rank and file of Pakistan armed forces.”
Mr. Musharraf, who held all top military positions, and “fought wars for the country can surely never be a traitor,” the statement read.
The treason case against Mr. Musharraf was groundbreaking in many ways. None of the country’s military dictators had ever before been held accountable for their actions. And Mr. Sharif sought to use the treason case to assert civilian supremacy over the military, a powerful institution in Pakistan.
The country’s military, however, balked at the move.
Mr. Musharraf did not appear in the initial proceedings of the treason case, and before one hearing, in 2014, his security convoy was suddenly and mysteriously directed to a military hospital. Mr. Musharraf was then hospitalized as he complained of chest pains, but it was widely believed that the military was protecting its former chief from prosecution.
In 2016, Mr. Musharraf was allowed to leave the country for medical treatment. He said he would return and face the legal cases, but he failed to do so.
Earlier this month, Mr. Musharraf released a video message from a hospital in Dubai where he was undergoing medical treatment and complained of being treated unjustly.
“I have served Pakistan all my life and I am being tried for treason,” a frail and weak looking Mr. Musharraf said.
Mr. Musharraf once enjoyed broad support both in Pakistan and abroad, and was considered an important ally of the United States in its effort to root out terrorism after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. But his popularity dropped sharply in 2007 as he tried to maintain his grip on power and clashed with the country’s judiciary and political opposition.
The Deputy South Asia Director of Amnesty International, Omar Waraich, said in a statement that Mr. Musharraf and his government officials must be held accountable but expressed reservations over the death penalty.
“No one is above the law,” Mr. Waraich said. But, he added, “the death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment it metes out vengeance, not justice.”