Pakistan's former military ruler Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf, who has been sentenced to death for treason by a special court, has raised serious questions on his trial and said that the verdict was based on some people's "personal animosity" towards him.
A three-member special court bench sentenced 76-year-old Musharraf to death in absentia on Tuesday for high treason following a six-year legal case. He has been living in Dubai since 2016 after Pakistan's Supreme Court lifted a travel ban allowing him to leave the country to seek medical treatment.
"I call it (verdict) a suspicious judgment because it disregarded the principle of supremacy of law from the beginning. I'd rather say that if going by the Constitution, this case should not have been heard," Musharraf, who sounded weak and seriously ill, said in a video message recorded from his hospital bed in Dubai.
He said the case against him had been taken up and concluded based on some people's "personal animosity" towards him.
"Some people in high offices misused their authority to target one individual," he said, in an apparent reference to Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa.
Khosa, who is retiring on Friday, last month said that the post-2009 judiciary had convicted one prime minster (Yousuf Raza Gilani); disqualified another (Nawaz Sharif); and was soon going to decide the treason case against a former army chief (Musharraf).
"Targeting an individual based on selective events reveals the intentions of these people," the former president said.
"There is no example of such a decision in which neither the defendant and nor his lawyer was given permission to say something in his defense," Musharraf said. "I had even offered to record my statement before a judicial commission, but even that offer was ignored."
Musharraf thanked the Pakistani people and the armed forces for remembering his services for the nation. "This is the biggest honour which I'll take to my grave," he added.
Following Musharraf's sentencing, the Pakistan Army said that its former chief can "never be a traitor" and the verdict against him has been received with "lot of pain and anguish" by Pakistan Armed Forces personnel.
"The due legal process seems to have been ignored including constitution of special court, denial of fundamental right of self defence, undertaking individual specific proceedings and concluding the case in haste," Pakistan Army spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said in a statement.
"Armed Forces of Pakistan expect that justice will be dispensed in line with Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan," Ghafoor stressed, piling pressure on the government.
Pakistan Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa also weighed in and said the armed forces have brought stability by failing all inimical forces operating against the country.
Gen Bajwa made a symbolic visit to the headquarters of the military's Special Services Group (SSG) on Wednesday where he praised their contributions towards defence of the country since the creation of Pakistan.
Musharraf served in the elite SSG from 1966-1972 and during the 1971 Pak-India war, he was a company commander of an SSG commando battalion.
"We have brought stability by failing all inimical forces operating against Pakistan. We shall never let it go away at any cost," Gen Bajwa said.
Musharraf is the first military ruler to receive the capital punishment in Pakistan's history.
Alarmed by the military's public statement, Prime Minister Imran Khan quickly deployed two of his trusted aides to assuage the Army to say that the government would defend the self-exiled, ailing ex-president during the hearing of an appeal to be filed on his behalf.
"I will defend the law in the case but not any individual," said Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan.
He said Musharraf was not given the right of fair trial and the judgement was announced in absentia without recording statement of the accused.
The charges against Musharraf stem from his imposition of a state of emergency in November 2007, after which dozens of top judges were placed under house arrest or sacked, sparking widespread street protests by lawyers.
Musharraf has argued that the case was politically motivated and that the actions he took in 2007 were agreed by the government and Cabinet. But his arguments were turned down by the courts and he was accused of acting illegally and abrogating the Constitution.
His sentencing was highly significant in Pakistan where the powerful military has ruled the country for nearly half of its 72-year history.