ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – After years of delays and disruption, a special court in Pakistan sentenced the country's former military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, to death in a treason trial on Tuesday.
However, the sentence is more symbolic in nature since Mr. Musharraf is currently in self-imposed exile in Dubai and is unlikely to return to the country. However, the verdict was the first time in the country's history that a military dictator was held accountable for his actions during his tenure.
A three-headed special court announced that Mr. Musharraf was "found guilty of violating the Pakistani constitution", namely treason and undermining the constitution. Two judges decided on the guilty verdict, one contradicted.
Mr. The 74-year-old Musharraf was accused of undermining the country's constitution in 2007 when he promised the country's state of emergency to thwart a political opposition movement and fired much of the judiciary. The movement had severely weakened Mr. Musharraf, and he resigned in 2008 under the threat of impeachment.
The betrayal was initiated in 2013 by the government of Nawaz Sharif, a former prime minister with a history of hostility towards the former military ruler. Mr. Musharraf overturned Mr. Sharif's government in a bloodless coup in 1999 and ruled until 2008.
But when Mr. Musharraf's assets collapsed, Mr. Sharif’s assets increased. he made a political comeback and returned to power in 2013. Within a few months, his government announced that treason proceedings had been launched against the former military dictator.
Mr. Musharraf denied the allegations and insisted that the case against him was political revenge.
The betrayal was groundbreaking in many ways. None of the country's military dictators had ever been held accountable for his actions. And Sharif tried to use the treason case to enforce civilian domination over the military, a powerful institution in Pakistan.
However, the country's military opposed this. Mr. Musharraf did not appear in the opening trial of the treason, and before a hearing in 2014, his security convoy was suddenly and mysteriously taken to a military hospital. Mr. Musharraf was then hospitalized when he complained of chest pain. However, it was widely believed that the military protected his former boss from prosecution.
In 2016, Mr. Musharraf was allowed to leave the country for medical treatment. He said he would go back and face the litigation, but he didn't.
Earlier this month, Mr. Musharraf released a video message from a hospital in Dubai where he was undergoing medical treatment and complained about being treated unfairly.
"I have served Pakistan all my life and have been accused of treason," said a frail and weak-looking Mr. Musharraf. Musharraf once enjoyed broad support both in Pakistan and abroad and was seen as a key ally of the United States in its efforts to eradicate terrorism after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. But his popularity declined sharply in 2007 when he tried to keep power under control and clashed with the country's judiciary and political opposition.