By Shayne R. Burnham
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pervez Musharraf resigned the Pakistani presidency on August 18, 2008 under the pressure of impeachment from the coalition government and is now in the midst of facing charges, including treason and various human rights violations. In May 2008, Human Rights Watch reported that human rights concerns in Pakistan included “arbitrary detention (including of lawyers and human rights defenders); lack of fair trials; mistreatment, torture and enforced disappearances of terrorism suspects and political opponents; harassment, intimidation and censorship of the media; violence against women; and discrimination against religious minorities. Since November 2007, the Government has severely interfered with democratic institutions and dissolved the independent judiciary.”
“A failure to hold Musharraf and the army responsible will only result in those abuses continuing and hamper Pakistan’s development into a full democracy,” said Ali Dayan Hasan of Human Rights Watch.
Musharraf is currently facing two criminal charges: murder and treason. Khalid Kwaja petitioned the Islamabad High Court to try Musharraf for the murder of rebel leader, Nawaz Akbar Bugti, which occurred at the army assault on the Red Mosque which occurred in 2006. Bugti’s death occurred while hiding out in a cave that collapsed during the assault. A former judge stated that it is improbable that he will be convicted for this crime since he does not bear direct responsibility.
If convicted of treason, Musharraf would face serious consequences. Musharraf himself has acknowledged that he violated the constitution by imposing a state of emergency in order to remove judges from the Supreme Court, who were in the process of ruling if he could legally serve another five year presidential term. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of death.
Musharraf may also face charges for the enforced disappearance of hundreds of terrorist suspects.
For more information, please see:
Human Rights Watch – Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan: Human Rights Watch’s Submission to the Human Rights Commission – 5 March 2008
Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization – Balochistan: The Case Against Musharraf – 22 September 2008