Pakistan plans to try ex-dictator Musharraf for treason
The jumble that is Pakistani politics just got more confusing - and dangerous - today s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced he plans to put former military dictator Pervez Musharraf on trial for treason.
Musharraf, who returned from exile a few months ago hoping to run in Pakistan's parliamentary elections but whose candidacy was denied by the courts, is under house arrest.
His spokesperson described the proposed move as "reckless and ill-conceived".
In Pakistan, treason carries with it a penalty of life imprisonment - or death.
The military will be watching developments closely. If the trial goes ahead, it will be the first time an army chief will have been in the dock for violating the constitution in Pakistan, which has a history of military coups, the BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad reports.
The charge being considered against Mr Musharraf dates back to November 2007 when he suspended the constitution and imposed emergency rule.
"Musharraf violated the constitution twice," Mr Sharif told MPs. "He overthrew an elected government in 1999 and put everything into jeopardy. He sacked judges and imprisoned them."
Mr Sharif was reading from a statement that the attorney general submitted to the Supreme Court on Monday, in which the government set out its intention to try the former dictator for treason. Only the state can bring such a charge.
The court had already been hearing petitions from lawyers demanding that the former general be tried for placing senior judges under house arrest.
"Those who aided or abetted holding the constitution in abeyance will also be brought to justice," Attorney General Munir Malik said.
It is strange that Sharif would bring such a contentious, divisive issue to the fore so soon after forming the first government to succeed a civilian government in Pakistan's history. It was among his numerous campaign promises, but not many expected Sharif to make it among his first orders of business to tweak the military by putting on trial one of their own.
Whatever the reason, it will be a popular move among his supporters and especially the judiciary who suffered a loss of independence under the former dictator.