ISLAMABAD - The federal government Thursday requested a special court to initiate high treason proceedings against former General-President Pervez Musharraf. He is the country’s first military dictator to be charged for treason and a conviction can lead to life imprisonment or even the death penalty.

The Special Court headed by Justice Faisal Arab of the Sindh High Court and including Justice Muhammad Yawar Ali Khan of the Lahore High Court and Justice Tahira Safdar of the Balochistan High Court would hold the trial.

Interior Secretary Shahid Ullah Khan filed the complaint, seeking conviction of Musharraf and punishment to him for subverting, abrogating and suspending the constitution of the country, under Article 6 of the constitution read with Section 5 of Criminal Law Amendment (Special Court) Act 1976 and section 3 of High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973.

The federation prayed if the former dictator is found guilty of charges mentioned in the complaint then he be awarded punishment under Section 2(2) of High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973, which says; “A person who is found guilty of high treason, as defined in Article 6 of Constitution, shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life.”

“Today we have received the complaint and now it would be sent to the judges for their perusal,” Special Court Registrar Abdul Ghani Soomro told The Nation. Soomro said it has not been decided if the proceedings against Musharraf would be held in the Federal Shariat Court building or in the National Library. He said there was an issue of space at FSC building, but added that the federal government has to make the arrangements in this regard.

Five acts of the high treason against Pervez Musharraf have been mentioned in the complaint. First, on November 3, 2007, in his capacity as Chief of Army Staff (COAS), he issued a proclamation in his own name to hold the constitution in abeyance. Second, Musharraf in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan Army by adopting unconstitutional means abrogated, subverted/suspended/held in abeyance the constitution by issuing the Proclamation, hence committing the offence of high treason as defined in Article 6 of the constitution.

Third, Musharraf as self-appointed COAS vide notification Sept 2, 2007-Min-I on Nov 3, 2007 also issued Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) No.1 of 2007. By issuing PCO No.1 of 2007, express letter and spirit of the Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part VII, Part XI and Part XII of the constitution was abrogated, subverted and suspended. Musharraf by issuing Oath of Office (Judges) Order 2007 grossly abrogated and subverted the letter and spirit of Part I, Part II and Part VII of constitution. Through issuing Oath of Office of (Judges) Musharraf also committed third act of high treason.

Fourth, Provisional Constitution (Amendment) Order 2007, issued by the former military dictator also abrogated, subverted and suspended the letter and spirit of various provisions of the constitution including it Part I and Part XI.

Fifth, Musharraf, who had occupied the office of president since June 2001 by issuing Constitution (Second Amendment) Order, 2007 further amended Article 41, 44, 193, 194, 208 and 270C of the constitution, which removed the constitutional bars in Article 44 and 63 to his third term election in uniform during the pendency of his case in the Supreme Court. He committed this fifth act of high treason in furtherance of his self-serving objectives.

“The retired general intentionally committed the (above said) offences to perpetuate his illegal occupation of highest state office, used for unconstitutional rule and to ward off any possible adverse verdict that could disrupt his continuous usurpation of power and to thwart the sub judice case.”

The complaint maintains this aspect has been so conclusively determined and held by the apex court in PLD 2009 SC 879.