`No one wanted Pervez Musharraf to come back`

The primary reason that the military opposed Musharraf`s return was threats to his life.

Islamabad: Pakistan`s powerful security establishment had advised former military ruler Pervez Musharraf not to return to the country just days before he ended his self-imposed exile of nearly four years, according to a media report on Tuesday.

"No one wanted him (Musharraf) to come back," an unnamed official was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune.

The primary reason that the military opposed Musharraf`s return was threats to his life, and the Army feared his homecoming could lead to other political controversies, the official said.

There was consensus among all stakeholders - including the civil leadership and the military establishment - that Musharraf should not have returned home at this stage.

However, Musharraf defied the military`s advice and went ahead with his plan to fly into Karachi from Dubai last month.

The army`s opposition stemmed from fears that the legal challenges Musharraf is facing "may open a Pandora`s box", the report said.
The Supreme Court yesterday began hearing five petitions seeking Musharraf`s trial on charges of high treason for violating the Constitution and imposing emergency in 2007.

The case is expected to trigger several legal controversies if he opts to defend himself, said retired judge Tariq Mehmood.

"The case may involve people who were then Musharraf`s aides, both in the military as well as in the civilian government," he said.

The apex court could issue directions to the federal government to initiate a case of high treason against Musharraf, according to senior lawyer Lt Col (retired) Inam-ur-Raheem.

The court can conduct his trial because he is now a civilian, he added.
The apex court could also refer the matter to army authorities to conduct the trial through a Field General Court Marshal - the highest forum to try an accused from the military, Raheem said.

"Musharraf`s trial can be conducted under Section 59 of the Army Act, 1954," he said.

If Musharraf names both civilian aides and corps commanders, in his defence, he would have to justify his stance.

The court, however, could summon anyone, whether they served in the military or the civilian government, Raheem said.

Asked whether the civilian government in 2007 had given legal consent for imposing emergency, Tariq Azeem, who served as deputy information minister in former premier Shaukat Aziz`s cabinet, said: "I cannot recall any cabinet meeting in which any decision was taken to impose emergency on November 3, 2007."

Legal experts believe it is too early to draw conclusions at this stage and it is not clear whether the caretaker government has the power to order Musharraf`s trial.