ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Pakistan : The Verdict

The Verdict The verdict is in. Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan

The verdict is in. Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s deposed prime minister, has been spared the death penalty. Instead he has been handed a sentence of life imprisonment by the anti-terrorism court presided over by judge Rehmat Hussain Jaffri. And Pervez Musharraf has possibly staged a second coup.

Speculation was rife about how the court would deal with the case. The court had, it may be recalled, taken a separate oath under the new emergency provisions buttressing the military rule – the then chief justice Said Uz Zaman Siddiqui refused to comply and was replaced by Irshad Hassab Khan – and the case was treated as a political case and not a judicial matter. On the other hand, however, even the defence lawyers had accepted the neutrality of the court. Sharif faced charges of criminal conspiracy, hijacking and attempt to murder. Under the laws of the land he could have been sentenced to death if convicted. However, what ‘fair trial’ is under the circumstances is a moot issue – the procedures governing the anti-terrorism court have been written to produce quick results and these are not of Musharraf’s making either. The court was specially constituted by Sharif when he was in office to speed up the process of trying cases of terrorism – an act intended to reassure the US with regard to Pakistan’s seriousness about combating terrorism. The trial, not surprisingly, had produced considerable international interest with apparently several requests for the court refraining from handing out the death sentence.

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