ISLAMABAD – Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf was indicted on treason charges Monday in a bold assertion of authority by Pakistan’s civilian government, which has historically been marginalized by the nation’s powerful military.
Musharraf pleaded not guilty to the charges brought by a special court in Islamabad over his decision to impose a nationwide state of emergency in 2007, which critics said subverted the constitution. It marks the first time a Pakistani military leader has been tried for abuse of power.
The retired general, 70, told the court that he did not violate the constitution and issued a strident defense of his public service, including 45 years in the military and nine years as chief of army staff. “I have fought two wars and it is treason?” he said.
Musharraf had remained absent from most of the hearings in the special tribunal owing to security threats and what his lawyers described as ill health.
The indictment carries a potential death sentence if Musharraf is convicted.