Setting the ball rolling for the trial of Pervez Musharraf on a charge of high treason, a special court today summoned the former Pakistani military ruler to appear before it on December 24.
The three-judge court, during its maiden hearing, accepted the complaint registered by the government against the 70-year-old Musharraf. He is the first general to face trial in Pakistan, which has been ruled by the military for more than half of its history.
If convicted of treason, Musharraf could face either life imprisonment or the death penalty.
The government yesterday sent a request to the special court to start Musharraf's trial. The request, submitted by Interior Secretary Shahid Khan, stated that the former army chief had committed treason by imposing emergency and subverting the Constitution in 2007.
On November 17, the government decided to initiate treason proceedings against Musharraf under Article 6 of the Constitution.
Attorney General Munir Malik has said there is strong evidence against Musharraf and he could be sentenced to death or life imprisonment.
The government recently finalised its charge-sheet, cataloguing five charges against Musharraf, including imposing emergency on November 3, 2007, detaining judges of superior courts and abrogating the Constitution.
Musharraf came to power in 1999 by toppling a government led by current Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and ruled till 2008, when he was forced to resign after being threatened with impeachment.
He lived in self-exile for about five years and returned to Pakistan in March to contest elections but was hauled to court in different cases, including one over the 2007 assassination for former premier Benazir Bhutto.
Musharraf has secured bail in four major cases against him but the trial for treason poses the biggest challenge to the former army commando.