In a sudden erosion of military privilege and impunity, a Pakistani court indicted former ruler Pervez Musharraf today (August 20, 2013) in connection with the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto -- the first time that such a senior general has faced criminal charges in Pakistan -- according to the New York Times website.
The court filed three charges against Musharraf, 70, including murder and conspiracy to murder, said prosecutor Chaudhry Muhammed Azhar. He spoke after the court's brief hearing in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. Reporters were excluded from the hearing.
Musharraf pleaded not guilty, his lawyers said. Afterward, police commandos and paramilitary rangers escorted him back to his villa on the edge of Islamabad, where he has been under house arrest since April in connection with other cases stemming from his nine-year rule, from 1999 to 2008.
The symbolism of a once untouchable general being called to account was critical in a predominantly Muslim country that has been led by the military for about half of its 66-year history. While the military remains deeply powerful in Pakistan, the prosecution of Musharraf signals that even the country's top generals are sometimes subject to the rule of law -- at least after they have retired.