ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's powerful army said on Tuesday that its former chief Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf can "never be a traitor" and a special court verdict against him in the high treason case has been received with "lot of pain and anguish by rank and file of Pakistan Armed Forces".
A three-member bench of the special court, headed by Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth, on Tuesday found the ailing 76-year-old former Army chief, now living in Dubai on self-exile, guilty of high treason and handed him the death sentence.
"An ex-Army Chief, Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee and President of Pakistan, who has served the country for over 40 years, fought wars for the defence of the country can surely never be a traitor," Army spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said in a brief statement.
"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," he said.
"Armed Forces of Pakistan expect that justice will be dispensed in line with Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan," Ghafoor said.
Musharraf's indictment for treason was a highly significant moment in a country where the powerful military has held sway for much of its independent history.
Musharraf, the then army chief, seized power by ousting then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif in a 1999 bloodless coup.
He has also served as Pakistan's president from 2001 to 2008.
He was sentenced for suspending the Constitution and imposing extra-constitutional emergency in 2007, a punishable offence for which he was indicted in 2014.
The former Army chief left for Dubai for medical treatment in March 2016 and has not returned since, citing security and health reasons.