Pakistan's Musharraf says army backs him over treason 'vendetta'

Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf (centre) is escorted by soldiers as he arrives at an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad, on Apr 20, 2013. Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf on Sunday denounced treason charges against him as
Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf (centre) is escorted by soldiers as he arrives at an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad, on Apr 20, 2013. Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf on Sunday denounced treason charges against him as a "vendetta", and said he had the backing of the country's powerful army. -- PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf on Sunday denounced treason charges against him as a "vendetta", and said he had the backing of the country's powerful army.

The 70-year-old told reporters the "whole army" was upset with the treason allegations, in his first comments to international media since he was put under house arrest in April.

The allegations relate to Musharraf's imposition of emergency rule in November 2007, and are the latest and potentially most serious in a flurry of criminal cases he has faced since since returning to Pakistan in March.

The case puts the government on a possible collision course with the all-powerful army, which is reluctant to see its former chief suffer the indignity of being tried by a civilian court.

"I would say the whole army is upset. I have led the army from the front," he told reporters.

"I have no doubt with the feedback that I received that the whole army is... Totally with me on this issue."

An initial hearing in the case, being heard by a special tribunal, was halted on Dec 24 after explosives were found along the route Musharraf was to take to court.

The case is due to resume on Jan 1, but Musharraf said he had not yet decided whether or not he would attend.

"The way this tribunal was formed, which involved the prime minister and the ex-chief justice, this itself smacks a little bit of a vendetta," he said.

Musharraf's lawyers have dismissed the charges as an attempt by the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who Musharraf ousted in a coup in 1999, to settle old scores through the courts.