Pakistani prime minister: Musharraf should stand trial for treason

Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf arrives at an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad on April 20, 2013.

Story highlights

  • Former President Pervez Musharraf is accused of abrogating the constitution
  • The country's new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, says Musharraf should stand trial
  • The two men clashed in the late 1990s when Musharraf was army chief
  • Musharraf overthrew Sharif's elected government in a bloodless coup

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf should stand trial for treason, the country's prime minister said Monday.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif accused Musharraf of illegally abrogating the constitution in November 2007.

That month, Musharraf declared a state of emergency, suspended Pakistan's constitution, replaced the chief judge and blacked out independent TV outlets.

Musharraf said he did so to stabilize the country and to fight rising Islamic extremism. The action drew sharp criticism from the United States and democracy advocates. Pakistanis openly called for his ouster.

Under pressure from the West, he later lifted the state of emergency and promised elections.

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When those elections came, his party was dealt a serious blow.

Musharraf stepped down in August 2008 as the governing coalition began taking steps to impeach him.

Raza Bokhari, a spokesman for Musharraf, accused the government of "demonstrating recklessness in its intention to pursue unwarranted treason charges" against him, saying the former president had served the country with "selfless devotion and perseverance."

No love lost

It's not surprising that Sharif would call for Musharraf to be held criminally liable -- there is no love lost between the two men.

In the 1990s, when Sharif was prime minister, Musharraf was military chief. Sharif feared Musharraf was plotting his ouster.

He fired Musharraf in October 1999 after the army's failed invasion of Kargil, in Indian-held Kashmir. And when Musharraf was on a flight to the city of Karachi, his plane was initially denied permission to land, allegedly by Sharif.

The military responded by overthrowing Sharif in a bloodless coup. Musharraf took power, and a court subsequently convicted Sharif on hijacking and treason charges.

Sharif managed to negotiate a period in exile in Saudi Arabia instead of prison. He returned to Pakistan to challenge Musharraf's rule in late 2007.

His party didn't win. But he waited.

This year, his party won a majority of the votes, putting him back in power.