Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 October 2020

Former Pakistan president Musharraf blames death sentence ruling on enemies in high places

In new video released from Dubai hospital bed, former army chief says he values Pakistan’s people and army for their support

A supporter holds portraits of former President Pervez Musharraf during a protest against sentencing Musharraf to death in high treason case in Karachi, Pakistan, December 18, 2019. SHAHZAIB AKBER
A supporter holds portraits of former President Pervez Musharraf during a protest against sentencing Musharraf to death in high treason case in Karachi, Pakistan, December 18, 2019. SHAHZAIB AKBER

Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf said the death sentence ruling against him for high treason was motivated by people in high positions.

A video released late on Wednesday showed the ailing former military dictator speaking from his hospital bed in Dubai, a day after a special court ruled against him for imposing emergency rule when he was in power in 2007.

In his first reaction to the court ruling, Musharraf said he was targeted by some people who harboured “personal enmity” against him and were misusing the offices they occupied.

This is the first time in Pakistan’s history that a former army chief has been sentenced to death.

Musharraf has been living in London and Dubai since 2016 when he was allowed to leave his home country for medical treatment.

“I have heard the special court verdict against me for the first time on television,” he said in the video.

“There is no precedent for a verdict like this, where neither the defendant nor his lawyer is allowed to speak in defence.”

Musharraf said the procedures of law were not followed throughout the proceedings and his plea for a special commission to go to Dubai and take his statement was also rejected.

He said he was deeply indebted to the people of Pakistan and the army for remembering his contribution to the country. He would forever value their sentiments and would take this memory “to my grave".

Musharraf said he would decide on his next course of action after consulting with his legal team.

The court ruling is being regarded as a standoff between the judiciary and the powerful military over the rule of law.

While opposition politicians and lawyers welcomed it, the military reacted swiftly, saying a former general who fought wars to defend the country could “surely never be a traitor”.

The army said the ruling was received with a “lot of pain and anguish by the rank and file of the Pakistani armed forces".

Musharraf had imposed emergency when there was rising opposition to his rule.

His final years in office were marred by conflict with the judiciary when he placed judges under house arrest and tried to sack the chief justice in 2007.

He clashed with the judiciary over his decision to stay as head of the army while he was president.

Musharraf came to power after ousting former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 1999.

Mr Sharif returned to office and accused Musharraf of treason in 2013, and he was formally charged a year later.

Updated: December 19, 2019 01:38 AM

Editor's Picks
THE DAILY NEWSLETTER
Sign up to our daily email