LONDON - Lawyers for former president Pervez Musharraf said Friday a treason charge levied against him was politically motivated and that he would face a ‘show trial’, urging the United Nations to intervene.
The legal team also called on the United States, Britain and Saudi Arabia to denounce Musharraf’s trial to ‘repay their debt’ for his support in the US-led ‘war on terror’ in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
Musharraf overthrew the government of current Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless military coup in 1999 and ruled until 2008. His lawyers claim Sharif is using the treason case to get revenge.
The 70-year-old ex-commando, who is due to appear before a special court on December 24, is the first former military dictator in country’s history to face trial for treason.
Musharraf’s barrister Steven Kay told a press conference in London the hearing would be a “stage-managed show trial” with the judges picked by political opponents who are now in power.
“What we have here is a case that has started with the hand-picking of judges by the politicians - or a politician, the prime minister - in defiance of any person’s right to a trial that is fair,” Kay told reporters.
The trial is an “egregious example of political interference,” he said.
Musharraf returned to Pakistan from self-imposed exile in March and was placed under house arrest.
The treason accusation relates to his decision in 2007 to impose emergency rule shortly before the Supreme Court was due to decide on the legality of his re-election as president a month earlier, while he was still army chief.
Kay said the judges selected for the trial would be unable to act impartially - particularly since one of them, Faisal Arab, was sacked by Musharraf’s government.
“If you’ve been affected by what took place and then you judge it, there is a conflict of interest because you have an interest in getting retribution,” Kay told reporters.
The legal team has written to UN human rights chief Navi Pillay and UN special rapporteurs calling for the international body to “urgently intervene and ensure that the former president is not subjected to politically motivated charges”.
Barrister Toby Cadman called on Musharraf’s allies in the ‘war on terror’ to support him, insisting this did not amount to interference in Pakistani justice.
“What is important is to ensure that voices of concern are expressed in terms of the charges which the former president faces, and recognition of his contribution to the ‘war on terror’,” Cadman said.
On the other hand, talking a private TV channel, Musharraf vowed to face justice and not flee the country in his first interview since being placed under house arrest eight months ago.
“I will face all cases... I will not run away,” he said. “These are all fraud (fraudulent) cases which lack any substantial evidence,” he said.
“I will inshallah (God willing) get out of this pressure because I am pretty sure I did not commit any wrong thing... whatever I did was for the betterment and welfare of Pakistan and its people.”
When asked if he thinks the present government will complete its tenure, Musharraf said: “My good wishes are with them if they promote good governance. I will support (Prime Minister) Nawaz Sharif if he does any good for the country.”
During the interview, the former general said that he supported the policy of holding peace talks with the Taliban but only from a ‘position of strength and not weakness’. “Whether it is Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or its chief Maulana Fazlullah, they are our own people who have got distracted.
“But they should not be begged for any talks... they should know that the state is always very powerful and that they should not challenge the state,” Musharraf said.