Opposition PML-N wants Musharaf tried for Benazir assassination

June 3rd, 2009 - 4:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Pervez Musharraf Islamabad, June 3 (IANS) The demand for trying former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf has resurfaced with the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) now saying he should be arraigned for the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
“The (ruling) PPP (Pakistan Peoples Party) and its government are duty-bound to register a case against Musharraf under section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code and arrest him immediately,” PML-N spokesman Muhammad Siddiqul Farooque said at a news conference here Tuesday.

To buttress his demand, Farooque pointed to Bhutto’s interview to CNN just before she returned home from exile in October 2007, during which she had said: “If anything happens to me, I will hold Pervez Musharraf responsible.”

He also pointed out that President Asif Ali Zardari, during a press conference in January had said the interview should be considered his slain wife’s dying declaration.

Bhutto was killed in a gun and bomb attack December 27, 2007 as she left a political rally in the adjacent garrison town of Rawalpindi.

Investigations by the Pakistani authorities, as also Scotland Yard, have reached a dead end largely because the assassination site was hosed down immediately after the incident, wiping out whatever evidence that could have been gathered.

Pakistan has now asked the UN to probe the attack, which the world body has agreed to.

Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, who controls the South Waziristan area along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, is one of the prime suspects in the assassination.

Musharraf is currently abroad on a series of lecture tours and is unlikely to return home soon, largely due to the uncertain security scenario and the threats to him from the Taliban and other terrorist groups.

The threat perception apart, Musharraf could be charged with treason for tampering with the constitution as adequate laws exist for this, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Babar Awan had said in April.

Special sessions courts existed in the country where treason cases could be heard, he said.

Anyone found guilty of sabotaging or suspending the constitution was liable for the death sentence, Awan added for good measure.

Awan’s remarks came in the wake of repeated demands to try Musharraf for treason for abrogating the constitution as it had existed in 1973.

In March, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court urging the filing of a treason case against the former president and a bar on his leaving the country. The court is yet to rule on this.

The Sindh High Court has also issued notice on a similar petition but the federal government has not yet replied to this.

“All acts by the former president were illegal and thereafter all amendments were also illegal. Musharraf and all those who supported him should be proceeded against on charges of high treason,” the petition says.

Also in March, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Qazi Hussain Ahmad had demanded that Musharraf be tried for treason.

Ahmad maintained that Musharraf’s October 1999 military coup to topple then prime minister Nawaz Sharif had violated the constitution.

Then, the controversial 17th amendment the general had pushed through in 2002 was also unconstitutional.

The amendment had transferred key executive powers to the presidency from the prime minister’s office.

The emergency Musharraf had declared Nov 3, 2007, as well as a Provisional Constitutional Order that had been promulgated to overrule the statute were unconstitutional, Ahmad maintained.

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