Pakistan gov't to prosecute Musharraf on treason charges

Pakistan's federal law secretary asked Pakistan's chief justice Monday to constitute a three-member special court to prosecute former President Pervez Musharraf on charges of high treason, an offence punishable by the death penalty.

"The federal government has decided to invoke the powers vested in it under section 4 of Criminal Law Amendment (Special Court Act, 1976) to establish a special court to try Gen. (R) Pervez Musharraf for various offences under section 2 of the High Treason Act (Punishment Act) 1973," the letter written by Law Secretary Zafarullah Khan delivered to the Supreme Court registrar says.

Earlier, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said the decision to proceed against Musharraf was taken in the light of a report presented by a three-member team of the Federal Investigation Agency set up to find whether there was a case against the former army strongman.

In October 1999, Musharraf ousted the then-elected government of Nawaz Sharif, who is now, again, Pakistan's prime minister

"We will formally contact the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to submit that there are grounds for a case against Pervez Musharraf," Khan said.

Sharif's government has taken measures to bar Musharraf from leaving the country.

Musharraf, who was in power from 1999 to 2008, has refused to give evidence to the Federal Investigation Agency team in charge of exploring treason charges against him, Khan said.

Musharraf was released Nov. 6 from almost seven months of house arrest after an Islamabad court granted him bail in a case related to the death of a hard-line cleric during a standoff at the Red Mosque in the capital in July 2007.

He lived in self-imposed exile in London for four years, returning to Pakistan on March 24 with the aim of taking part in the general election on May 11.

The High Court barred him from contesting the election, which was won by Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League.