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Pakistani Government Objects To Musharraf Death Sentence

FILE: Pervez Musharraf
FILE: Pervez Musharraf

ISLAMABAD -- The Pakistani government has objected to the death sentence given to former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf by a special court, claiming that the right to a "fair trial" was not provided to the defendant.

The 76-year-old ex-strongman is now living in exile in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Pakistani Attorney-General Anwar Mansoor Khan said on December 17 that the government will "defend the law and not any individual," adding that the trial in absentia was not a "matter of routine."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan made a call in Geneva on December 18 for an emergency meeting of his Pakistan Tehrik-e Insaf party to discuss the Musharraf verdict.

A special court on December 17 ruled 2-1 to sentence Musharraf, who ruled Pakistan between 1999 and 2008, to death, after convicting him of treason charges for suspending the country's constitution in 2007.

In a video statement issued from his hospital bed earlier this month, Musharraf described the case against him as "baseless."

The statement also took issue with what it called the "denial of the fundamental right to self-defense" and "concluding the case in haste."

The armed forces "expect justice to be dispensed in line with Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan," the statement said.

Amnesty International's deputy South Asia director, Omar Waraich, said that "it is encouraging to see Pakistan break with a history of impunity for powerful generals."

Meanwhile, the All-Pakistan Muslim League, the party led by Musharraf, has also questioned the verdict, Pakistani media reported on December 18.

Major opposition parties in Pakistan have welcomed the verdict.

Pakistan People's Party (PPP) leader and former Senator Taj Haider told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal on December 17 that Article 6 of the constitution made it "clear that those who supported" violating the constitution "should also be punished."

But he added that his party "is against the death sentence."

Both the PPP and the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) say they believe the government will not implement the court verdict.

Senate opposition leader Raja Zafar-ul-Haq of PML-N told Radio Mashaal on December 17 that "many incumbent cabinet members" held key positions during Musharraf's rule.

"The minister of interior [Ijaz Ahmad Shah] is a close friend of Pervez Musharraf, that is why I think the government will not show interest in bringing him back" to Pakistan, he added.

The United Arab Emirates and Pakistan have an extradition treaty but it is not known if Pakistan will request the former ruler be returned to Pakistan.

With reporting by Pamir Sahill of RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal and The Express Tribune