Pakistan court calls Musharraf to answer allegations of treason



ISLAMABAD // Pakistan's former military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, was ordered to appear today before the supreme court to answer allegations that he committed treason while in power, an offence that carries the death sentence.

The summons was issued yesterday. The court was responding to several private petitions in which the allegations were made that he committed treason by suspending the constitution and sacking senior judges, including the chief justice, while in office.

Judge Jawad Khawaja said it was the "duty and the obligation" of the state to take effective measures against Mr Musharraf "and others who subverted the constitution".

"It is necessary to issue notice to the respondents in these petitions. The office shall ensure service of notice to the respondents for tomorrow," Mr Khawaja told the court.

The judge ordered police around the country to "serve notice" to Mr Musharraf to appear. He is understood to have been in the capital, where he has a farmhouse, since last week.

Mr Musharraf seized power in a military coup in 1999 but was forced to step down almost a decade later under the threat of impeachment by Pakistan's main political parties. He left the country in 2008 and spent more than four years in self-imposed exile before returning last month to contest the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The former president has experienced a bumpy ride since his return. He was met by only a couple of thousand people at the airport in Karachi when his flight touched down from Dubai, a sign of how little support many analysts say he now enjoys in Pakistan.

The Taliban has threatened to kill him, and he faces a series of legal charges, including some related to the 2007 assassination of the former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.

However, he registered a victory on Sunday when he was given approval to run for parliament from a remote district in northern Pakistan.

But judges rejected his nomination in several other districts, and lawyers have said they planned to go to the high court to challenge his right to stand as a candidate.

Pakistan's political system allows a candidate to run for several seats simultaneously.

Mr Musharraf's ability to run, however, could also be complicated by the treason allegations against him, though it remains to be seen whether he will actually be charged and convicted.

* With additional reporting by Agence France-Presse

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Pension funds in growing economies in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East have a sharply higher percentage of assets parked in stocks, just at a time when trade tensions threaten to derail markets.

Retirement money managers in 14 geographies now allocate 40 per cent of their assets to equities, an 8 percentage-point climb over the past five years, according to a Mercer survey released last week that canvassed government, corporate and mandatory pension funds with almost $5 trillion in assets under management. That compares with about 25 per cent for pension funds in Europe.

The escalating trade spat between the US and China has heightened fears that stocks are ripe for a downturn. With tensions mounting and outcomes driven more by politics than economics, the S&P 500 Index will be on course for a “full-scale bear market” without Federal Reserve interest-rate cuts, Citigroup’s global macro strategy team said earlier this week.

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