Clause in Musharraf Death Sentence Draws Outrage in Pakistan
Presiding judge calls for body to be ‘dragged’ and ‘hung’ in public, something attorney general describes as ‘illegal, unconstitutional and immoral’
[Islamabad] A special court that handed down a death sentence for former Pakistani president and army chief Pervez Musharraf earlier this week has released details as to how he is to be put to death and what is to be done with his corpse, eliciting outrage, particularly in the armed forces.
The court announced the death sentence in Islamabad on December 17, saying Musharraf, currently living in self-imposed exile in the United Arab Emirates, had been found guilty of high treason and subverting the constitution for a state of emergency he imposed in 2007 while president.
It was only on December 19 that details about the sentencing were released. They included the method of execution – “hanged by the neck until dead” – but also the stipulation that “if found dead [before he can be executed], his corpse is to be dragged” to a square outside the parliament in Islamabad and “hung up for three days.”
The clause was written by Waqar Ahmed Seth, chief justice of the Peshawar High Court and head of the three-judge panel that sentenced Musharraf.
Farogh Naseem, Pakistan’s law and justice minister, told a news conference in Islamabad on Thursday evening that the government would “file a reference in the Supreme Judicial Council” against Seth for having written the clause. The council is a constitutional body authorized to address allegations of misconduct in the country’s judiciary.
Naseem called Seth “incompetent and unfit for the job.”
Attorney-General Anwar Mansoor Khan also condemned the order, calling it “illegal, unconstitutional and immoral.”
Former justice minister Etezaz Ahsan referred to the part about dragging the body by saying that such an act “can never be implemented under the constitution of Pakistan,” adding that it was something “only the Taliban” would do.
Allama Abdul Basit Al-Rahimi, a leading Islamic scholar in Pakistan, called it “unbelievable” that a judge could order the public display of a dead body.
“Islam and the Abrahamic religions give utmost respect to dead bodies – even those of enemies,” he told The Media Line.
The verdict against Musharraf has also caused extreme resentment among members Pakistan’s armed forces.
Retired general Javed Aslam Tahir, senior vice president of the Pakistan Ex-Servicemen’s Society, told The Media Line that it was part of a judicial “vendetta” for years of military rule, the goal being to “destroy the unity of Pakistan and its armed forces.”
Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, the chief military spokesman, told the media: “We know how to defend the country, and also know very well how to defend the honor, dignity and prestige of our institution. Those who want to see confrontation among the institutions of the country will fail.”
He described Seth’s words as being “beyond humanity, religion and values.”
In response, Pakistan’s Bar Association called Ghafoor’s statements “a clear-cut violation of legal and constitutional provisions amounting to contempt of court.”
The Interior Ministry, meanwhile, has now issued a directive on the matter, saying that “no official is to interact with a media representative or upload an official comment with any news outlet or on any social media platform without approval from the relevant authorities.”