You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Musharraf may soon face treason charges in Pakistan

Ex-military chief’s aide warns of a ‘Pandora’s box’

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Monday that his newly installed government intends to press treason charges against former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, setting up a potential clash with Pakistan’s powerful military.

In a speech to Parliament that was critical of the military, Sharif said Musharraf had to answer for his acts during his years in power, comments that drew loud applause from Sharif’s supporters.

Continue reading below

But the government has stopped short of pressing formal charges because Sharif wants to first consult with the nation’s other political parties.

The treason case against Musharraf is pending in the Supreme Court, and charges have also been pressed in four other cases relating to Musharraf’s rule from 1999 to 2008. He has remained under house arrest at his villa outside Islamabad since April, shortly after his return from years of exile abroad.

Musharraf’s treatment has already stirred disquiet in parts of the military, which is uncomfortable at the sight of a former army chief being dragged through the courts, a shocking spectacle in a country where the military has ruled for more than half of its 66-year history.

Under the army’s supreme commander, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Pakistani military has largely stayed out of the political process of late.

But a treason charge, based on accusations that Musharraf subverted the Constitution by imposing emergency rule in 2007, would considerably raise the ante. Musharraf supporters have hinted that should the charge go ahead, carrying with it a possible death sentence, the army could intervene.

Ahmad Raza Kasuri, a Musharraf aide, said it would open a “Pandora’s box,” while Musharraf’s spokesman said “the people of Pakistan will not tolerate this circus.”

“It takes the focus away from the serious challenges faced by the nation and could result in unnecessary tension amongst the various pillars of state, and possibly destabilize the country,” said Reza Bokhari, the spokesman.

Sharif and Musharraf have a bitter history dating to 1999, when the army ousted Sharif in a coup, installing Musharraf as leader. Sharif was forced into exile in Saudi Arabia.

Sharif returned to Pakistan in 2007, and his party won a comfortable victory in the May 11 election. Musharraf, meanwhile, returned from four years in exile in March to run in the election, only to find himself disqualified and bogged down with legal troubles.

But the treason charges are also being stirred by the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, also an old rival of Musharraf. Some analysts said the judges forced Sharif’s hand.

In the Supreme Court on Monday, judges questioned the attorney general about whether the government intended to bring charges. The government asked for 30 days’ leave, but the court instructed it to return to court and provide further details Thursday.

Critics of the charges argue that Musharraf was not alone in his actions and that he enjoyed the support of senior officers and civilian officials when he was in power.

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.