Islamabad: Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf was on Tuesday sentenced to death for high treason by a special court. In the high treason case, he faced charges for suspending, subverting and abrogating the Constitution, imposing an emergency in the country in November 2007 and detaining judges of Pakistan’s superior courts.
Pervez Musharraf was born in Delhi on 11 August 1943 to Urdu-speaking parents who migrated to Pakistan after the partition in 1947. The son of a career diplomat, Musharraf was commissioned in Pakistan's army in 1964, joining the officer corps and seeing action in the country's 1965 and 1971 wars against India. He rose swiftly through the ranks, and, in 1998, was appointed as army chief by then-Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
What is the high treason case?
In November 2007, Gen Musharraf had suspended the Constitution and imposed emergency rule - a move which had sparked protests across the country. Later, in 2008, he resigned to avoid the threat of impeachment.
The treason case against Pervez Musharraf was initiated by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 2013.
Arguing his stance, Musharraf had said the case was politically motivated and the actions he took in 2007 were agreed by the then-government and cabinet. However, his argument was turned down by the court and was accused of acting illegally.
In 2016, Gen Musharraf travelled to Dubai for medical treatment after a travel ban was lifted and he refused to appear before the court, despite multiple orders. He has remained in Dubai since then. He was declared an absconder as he failed to appear in court and the court issued a directive to the country's Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to arrest him.
The case and its verdict was a highly significant moment in a country where the military has held sway for much of its independent history.
Many of Pakistan's army chiefs have either ruled the country directly after coups or played a significant influence over policymaking.
Gen Musharraf, however, was the first army chief to be charged with such a crime. This is also the first time a military leader has been sentenced for subverting the constitution.
The trial was held in a closed anti-terrorism court in Islamabad and the full verdict was not made available. However, it was confirmed by the government law officer Salman Nadeem, who stated: “Pervez Musharraf has been found guilty of article 6 for violation of the constitution of Pakistan.”
How events unfolded for Musharraf to take power?
In May 1998, Musharraf and Prime Minister Sharif presided over Pakistan's nuclear tests. The tests were conducted in response to similar Indian tests in that country's Pokhran region. By October 1999, relations between the two leaders had soured and Sharif sought to dismiss Musharraf, who was the head of the armed forces.
Musharraf's, however, was swift to take action. He ordered the military to take control of state institutions and announced a state of emergency, with himself as "chief executive" of Pakistan.
He remained "chief executive" until 2002 when he organised a general election whose validity and fairness was widely been disputed. His PML-Q political party was ushered into power and he was appointed president, a post he continued to hold until he was removed in 2008.
The overthrown prime minister was put on trial and eventually forced to flee the country in exile.
During Musharraf’s tenure, Pakistan became notorious for oppression and rampant human rights abuses. He also survived multiple assassination attempts.
His decision to suspend the Constitution in 2007 and impose emergency rule prompted mass protests.
In 2014, the high treason legal proceedings began after Sharif was re-elected as prime minister.
Fall from power
When Nawaz Sharif returned from exile in late 2007, it marked the beginning of the end of the Musharraf era.
The former general tried to extend his tenure by imposing emergency rule but in February 2008, his party lost parliamentary elections. Six months later, he resigned to avoid impeachment and then left the country.
In March 2013, Musharraf dramatically returned to Pakistan to compete in elections but it ended in humiliation and arrest. He was barred from standing and his All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) performed as badly as many had predicted.
The then-government asked the Supreme Court to try Musharraf for treason, with a special tribunal set up to hear the case in November.
The same year, he was accused of treason over his decision to suspend the constitution back in 2007.
In March 2016, after a travel ban was lifted for medical treatment, he left for Dubai and hasn’t returned since.
The case, meanwhile, had faced numerous delays and proceedings picked up again in 2018 under orders from the Supreme Court. In 2019, the chief justice ordered the special court to deliver a verdict with or without Musharraf's testimony.