A stunning verdict met with 'pain, anguish'.

 
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Byline: SHAHID RAO and Tahir Niaz

ISLAMABAD -- In an unprecedented decision a Special Court yesterday handed capital punishment to former president-general Pervez Musharraf in a high treason case for imposing a state of emergency in 2007.

'We have found guilty of him under Article 6 of the Constitution and therefore awarded death sentence,' read the short version of the 2-1 split decision of the three-judge court.

The judgement could be appealed against in the Supreme Court and if the top court upholds the special court's verdict, the president possesses the constitutional authority under Article 45 to pardon a death row defendant.

The Tuesday's Special Court decision is however first of its kind and is being seen by political observes as both controversial and too audacious: especially for a country that has been under direct military rule for almost half of its existence where army continues to wield a strong influence.

The verdict therefore received an obviously strong reaction. The Army received it 'with a lot of pain and anguish' and said it stands by Musharraf, who is currently residing and under treatment in Dubai.

'An ex-Army Chief, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and President of Pakistan, who has served the country for over 40 years, fought wars for the defence of the country can surely never be a traitor,' said the top military spokesman.

The Imran Khan government, said to be on very 'cordial' terms with the military establishment, also rejected the special court decision in its immediate reaction.

Attorney General of Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan said the case against Musharraf was 'void from the beginning' and he questioned the 'rush' for the judgment, which was given in absentia. In doing so, he raised questions and made observations suggesting that the verdict appeared to be politically motivated.

The case definitely has a strong political colour and history as the special court was constituted by then prime minister Nawaz Sharif to try Musharraf, who ruled the country for over a decade after toppling a previous Nawaz government in 1999.

The Tuesday's decision was given by a bench comprising Chief Justice of the Peshawar High Court Justice Waqar Seth, Justice Nazar Akbar of the Sindh High Court and Justice Shahid Karim of the Lahore High Court.

After hearing the arguments of the defence and the newly appointed prosecution team, the court reserved its judgment and announced its short order after 45 minutes. The detailed...

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