Nawaz Sharif says Pervez Musharraf to face trial for high treason

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today said Pervez Musharraf will be tried for high treason for subverting the Constitution twice, including when the former military ruler ousted him in a 1999 coup.

If Musharraf is convicted of high treason, he could face a possible death sentence or life imprisonment. Sharif made the announcement in the National Assembly or lower house of parliament less than three weeks after returning as premier following his PML-N party's victory in the general election.

Musharraf's actions came under the purview of "high treason", Sharif told parliament. The 69-year-old former army chief, currently under house arrest, should face trial in the Supreme Court and answer for his actions, Sharif said.

Referring to Musharraf's decision to impose emergency rule in 2007, Sharif said, "The federal government firm subscribes to the view that the holding in abeyance of the Constitution on November 3, 2007 constituted an act of high treason within the meaning of Article 6 of the Constitution of Pakistan."

The Prime Minister is under oath to protect and defend the Constitution and "it is implicit in this oath that his government ensures that persons guilty of acts under Article 6 are brought to justice", he said. Reading from a statement presented by Attorney General Munir Malik to the Supreme Court, Sharif said, "Notwithstanding the fact that the Prime Minister has borne the brunt of Musharraf's brazen coup, he wishes to assure both this august court and the people of Pakistan that he will act

according to the highest standards of justice and follow the due process of law."

Sharif further said his government would "take political forces into confidence through a consultative process" in order to proceed with Musharraf's trial.

Soon after the premier spoke in parliament, the Attorney General conveyed the government's position to a Supreme Court bench hearing a petition seeking Musharraf's trial for high treason. The Attorney General said the process for putting Musharraf on trial had been started though the government needed 30 days to chart its future course of action. However, the apex court gave the Attorney General only three days to decide on a course of action and directed him to submit the government's response by Thursday.

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