Musharraf trial delayed by suspicious unarmed bomb

 

McClatchy Foreign Staff

The treason trial of Pakistan’s former military strongman, Pervez Musharraf, got off to a cloak-and-dagger start Tuesday when police discovered explosives and other weapons on the route from his Islamabad home to the court hearing the case.

Musharraf had been scheduled to make ignominious history as the first Pakistan’s former military dictator, out of four that have ruled the country since its independence in 1947, to be held accountable by a civilian court.

Instead, Musharraf stayed put at his luxury farmhouse residence in the suburbs of Islamabad, where he has been held since April, after security officials found a bag containing 11 pounds of explosives, 16 feet of detonation wire, two handguns and 16 rounds of ammunition on the road linking his home to an adjacent highway.

Mysteriously, the explosives had not been rigged to explode, raising suspicions about the identity and motives of the person or persons who had planted the explosives and weapons there. After being examined by the bomb squad and declared harmless, the bag was casually picked up by a uniformed police officer and taken away.

The three-judge special court appointed to hear the treason charges against Musharraf subsequently granted him a one-time immunity from appearing in person and ordered his lawyers to ensure he be present in court on Jan. 1 to hear the reading of the charges against him.

Musharraf is being tried for imposing a state of emergency in November 2007. During that time he suspended the constitution so that he could sack rebellious judges who sought to block a reconciliation law issued by Musharraf to facilitate a transition to democracy after eight years of military rule.

During Tuesday’s brief hearing, the lead counsel for Musharraf, Sharifuddin Pirzada, raised objections about the neutrality of the three Supreme Court judges hearing the case, pointing out that they had been among the dozens of judges who had refused to take a fresh oath of office under a temporary constitution put in place by Musharraf in November 2007.

Ahmed Raza Kasuri, another lawyer for the former military ruler, said the defense team would, at the court’s next hearing, ask the court to extend its examination of the treason charges back to October 1999, when Musharraf staged a coup against the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Sharif was elected back into power in a May general election, but he decided against prosecuting Musharraf for the October 1999 coup, largely because it has the potential to destabilize Pakistan’s fledgling democracy by identifying as collaborators many army generals and politicians, as well as judges, who subsequently rebelled in 2007.

Hussain is a McClatchy special correspondent.

Read more World Wires stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
An Indian state-owned bank official takes the thumb impression of a woman before opening her account as part of a massive countrywide campaign to open millions of accounts for the poor in New Delhi, India, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014.The measure is aimed at some 150 million Indians who are off the financial grid and vulnerable to black market money lenders. As an incentive the federal government is providing 100,000 rupees ($1,650) in life insurance to every account holder.

    India urges millions of poor to open bank accounts

    India's state-owned banks are conducting a massive campaign to open millions of accounts for poor Indians who are off the financial grid and vulnerable to black market money lenders.

  •  
French President Francois Hollande, left, and  French Prime Minister Manuel Valls shake hands as they leave after the weekly cabinet meeting in Paris, France, Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014. France's prime minister reshuffled his Cabinet on Tuesday to silence ministers who had openly criticized Socialist President Francois Hollande's economic policies as he tries to pull the nation out of stagnation and steer it toward growth.

    French leader banks on free market to save economy

    Facing pitiful poll numbers, Francois Hollande has cast his lot: The French president who once decried global finance and vowed a 75-percent tax on millionaires has quashed dissent from his Socialist government's left flank and appointed a well-heeled former investment banker as his new point man on the economy.

  • Business leaders offer support for independence

    Some 200 business leaders have offered support for the idea of Scottish independence from Britain, hitting back after a similar letter from other companies argued there are too many uncertainties surrounding the Sept. 18 vote.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category