Ousted Prime Minister Charged with 'Waging War against Pakistan'

By Suryamurthy Ramachandran | July 7, 2008 | 8:07 PM EDT

New Delhi (CNSNews.com) - Ousted Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and five other former officials Wednesday were accused Wednesday of "waging war against Pakistan" - yet another offense carrying the death penalty. They will be formally charged on Monday.

Prosecutor Raja Qureshi, the Advocate General of Sindh Province, said Sharif and the others would face charges of "hijacking, kidnapping, criminal conspiracy, attempt to murder and waging war against Pakistan."

The "waging war against Pakistan" charge was included after a police investigation, he said, adding that "there is enough evidence to establish the offense."

A two-page charge sheet in the Urdu language said the charges were based on a complaint filed by a lieutenant-general at an army unit based in Karachi. It said the prosecution would produce 54 witnesses to back the charge.

Sharif, his brother Shahbaz, and four others were charged under various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code, the Anti-Terrorist Act, and Islamic laws.

Tuesday night, the military government that deposed Sharif in October appointed Anti-Terrorist Court Judge Shabir Shah, to preside in the case.

He said that, "in order to have a fair trial, the prosecution is directed to supply copies and transcripts of audio and video cassettes to the defense by Monday."

The trial is being held in one of the Anti Terrorism Courts set up by Sharif during his tenure to handle terrorism-related cases. The courts have handed down a number of death sentences.

Human rights groups have criticized the functioning of the courts.

In 1979, during the regime of Pakistan's last military ruler General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq, former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged on a disputed conviction of conspiring to commit political murder.