ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s caretaker government told the Supreme Court on Monday that it will not file treason charges against former military ruler Pervez Musharraf but will leave the decision to the winner of the upcoming election.
Petitions before the Supreme Court alleging Musharraf committed treason while in power constitute just one of several legal challenges he is facing following his recent return to Pakistan from self-imposed exile.
He was put under house arrest over the weekend in connection with a different case, involving his decision to fire senior judges while in power.
Musharraf’s detention was the latest setback he has faced since returning last month with hopes of a political comeback.
Lawyers have filed private petitions before the Supreme Court alleging Musharraf committed various treasonable offenses, including toppling a civilian government, suspending the constitution, and declaring a state of emergency. But according to Pakistan’s constitution, the government is the only one with authority to file treason charges against Musharraf.
Attorney General Irfan Qadir submitted a statement to the Supreme Court on Monday, saying caretaker officials have decided not to file charges because it was not part of their mandate.
The caretaker government should avoid controversial matters that are not reversible by the winner of the May 11 parliamentary election, Qadir said. Instead, he added, caretaker officials are focused on routine matters, such as ensuring security for the upcoming election.
However, Law Minister Ahmer Bilal Soofi indicated caretaker officials would not defy the Supreme Court if the judges ordered the government to act.
The interim government took over last month and will hold power until a new government is formed after the vote.
The front runner to become the next prime minister is Nawaz Sharif, toppled by Musharraf in a coup when he was serving as premier in 1999.
Musharraf held power for nearly a decade until he was forced to step down in 2008.
Musharraf also faces charges of abetment in relation to the deaths of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007, and Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, a Baloch nationalist leader who died in an army operation in 2006.