Former Pakistan president General Pervez Musharraf was Monday indicted on five counts of treason by a special court.
At the special court in Islamabad, the former military ruler pleaded not guilty to each count saying that he was not a traitor.
He invoked various achievements made by the country under his rule to criticise the ruling, which came in the wake of his decision in 2007 to suspend the constitution and declare a state of emergency.
“I honour this court and prosecution, I strongly believe in law and don’t have ego problems, and I have appeared in court 16 times in this year in Karachi, Islamabad and Rawalpindi,” he said in an emotional tone.
“I am being called a traitor, I have been chief of army staff for nine years and I have served this army for 45 years. I have fought two wars and it is ‘treason’?”
Musharraf seized power in a bloodless military coup after toppling the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 1999.
If convicted, the 70-year-old former army leader could face the death penalty or life in prison.
He returned to Pakistan last year to participate in May elections, which were swept by Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (N) party.
Though Musharraf couldn’t stand in the elections because of various legal issues.
The case is likely to drag out as Musharraf’s defence has requested the court adjourn for eight weeks to give them time to prepare their case against the ruling. Also, they have made the call so that the retired general is allowed to visit his ailing mother, who is her nineties, in the UAE.
“He has come voluntarily to the court and he has pleaded not guilty. He will come back voluntarily,” lawyer Farogh Naseem said.