By Humayun Gauhar
“There should be no compulsion in religion. Surely, right has become distinct from wrong; so whosoever refuses to be led by those who transgress, and believes in Allah, has surely grasped a strong handle, which knows no breaking. And Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.” (Al Quran 2:257).
Do ponder on this Divine verse for a while. Consider: do we distinguish between right and wrong; do we choose to be led by those who transgress Allah’s injunctions, camouflaging their wrongdoings in exhibitions of piety? If you are honest the answer has to be a resounding ‘No’. A terrible punishment is being rained down on us on earth; what awaits us in the Hereafter Allah alone knows. If the state of our country and our own deteriorating condition is not punishment enough, what is? We are being punished here on earth because of the wrong choices we make, mostly opting for wrong instead of right and often celebrating and trumpeting wrongdoing instead of opposing it. We realize not that the rulers we elect are our punishment.
Well-meaning friends have advised me not to “identify” myself with General Pervez Musharraf by writing articles in his favour and speaking against the way he is being hounded and persecuted by the government through the law courts that are, in case you forget, supposed to dispense justice. I wonder how terrible will be the punishment of judges and prosecutors who knowingly stand with power and revenge rather than with right, but it has to be more than for ordinary mortals.
I identify myself with truth and justice because in so doing I primarily try and identify myself with God’s Word and His injunctions and also because no country can survive and become civilized unless it upholds truth and justice. I am not alone. There are many like me, like Ayaz Amir and Hasan Nisar to name just two.
Identifying themselves with truth and justice is incumbent upon Muslims. Those who twist the truth for personal reasons or perpetrate injustice by subverting justice commit treason against God. Theirs is an end that defies imagination. Treason against God is one thing; treason against one’s country is another. What is treason? Simply, treason occurs when someone helps, aids and abets an enemy country to harm one’s own country. By that measure – and that is the only measure – Musharraf is no traitor. Not upholding the constitution might be illegal under certain circumstances, but it is not treason. Going against the constitution in the larger interest of saving one’s country is no treason either. Remember: no country, no constitution; no constitution, country remains to make a better constitution that is realistic, native and doesn’t invite violation. The constitution is not a Divine book but a document with inevitable flaws because it is made by man and requires constant amendment and updating. A Divine book does not. Should one be loyal to one’s country or to a man-made document? Would a true patriot happily uphold the constitution while the country perishes? Removing a rampant ruler when he leaves no other option and saving the country from destruction is patriotism. Imposing temporary emergency to prevent chaos is patriotism. Sure, one man cannot be the judge of that. That is why he holds consultations with many. Finally, we have law courts to determine whether it was right or wrong provided – and it is a very big ‘provided’ – they follow natural justice in letter and spirit. Natural justice has many elements, the most important of which are a court constituted legally, judges that are beyond reproach like Caesar’s wife and the epitome of impartiality, who cannot be purchased for pecuniary or other benefits, those who are not suspected of holding a grudge against the accused, follow due process meticulously which includes the right of the accused to defence, to be heard, to bring witnesses in his defence, to cross examine the prosecution’s witnesses, not be singled amongst many who “aided and abetted” him, is tried for his entire alleged crime and not a part of it, especially that which is a consequence of an earlier alleged crime, not to be tried under a new law retroactively and whose cases cannot be instituted under a bogus Supreme Court judgment or order and so much more. The case, the court and the judges all fail by these measure of natural justice.
The treason trial doesn’t stand because the Supreme Court’s order striking down the 2007 emergency is a forgery according to Justice Yasmin Abbasey in her reference dated November 27, 2013 before the President of Pakistan. We will talk about this in my next article.
If sending a reference to the Supreme Court and removing the chief justice under emergency is treason, what is attacking the Supreme Court and forcing out the chief justice after purchasing many of his brother judges? If it is high treason to send a government or judges on the rampage packing, is not trying to deliver one’s army chief into Indian hands higher treason that caused the sacking of the government in the first place? Is it not helping an enemy country against one’s own? Is not groveling for friendship with India without settling the core Kashmir dispute treacherous to say the least? If true, the god of such people is the Golden Calf, not God the One and Only. God help them. Treason forsooth. We are a people who not only cannot differentiate between right and wrong, truth and falsehood, we cannot even differentiate between treason and patriotism. Most think that patriotism is being faithful to the constitution. I think patriotism is to be faithful to my country and state. Hang me for it.
Musharraf’s cases prove that we don’t uphold truth and are a very unjust people. What a sad country that my parents and grandparents helped create. We will be lucky if we don’t leave our children stateless. I recall that my parents changed nationalities thrice while sitting in the same place: born Indians, became Pakistanis in 1947 and died ‘New Pakistanis’ less than a quarter of a century later. What do I tell my children, that their state that we hypocritically call an Islamic republic and whose name means ‘Land of the Pure’ is anything but? I cannot pull the wool over their eyes as the state cannot pull the wool over God’s eyes. All I can do is impart a good set of values to them and tell them to try and do better than we did by standing for truth and justice. I have to tell them the truth, that sadly Pakistan is hardly Islamic at state level and highly impure by the way we violate God’s injunctions. We think that by sporting beards and not drinking alcohol, which is not even ‘haram’ or forbidden in the Quran but strongly advised against, we become good Muslims. Were it was that easy. If a man sports a beard he must be a very Muslim say the pious. But if he also indulges in the occasional tipple the pious are left in a conundrum.
Anyone who has read the reference against the chief justice with the accompanying evidence will know that such a man had no business to be our chief justice. Hats off to Musharraf for imposing emergency and trying to save the state. The performance of the chief justice after his questionable restoration proves Musharraf right, for he did precisely what was suspected by transgressing grossly into the executive’s domain and putting the state in a bind, by hiding behind the alleged corruption of his son and then putting the case in deep freeze, with his misuse of suo moto and contempt or court laws, his waste of the public money on pomp and protocol that he was not entitled to, and so much more. The truth has a bad and often painful way of coming out. It will, God willing.
Hats off to Chaudhry Shujat, Pervez Elahi and Khurshid Kasuri for speaking for truth and justice and standing up to be counted. Great that Shaujat has hit the nail on the head, asked for changes in Article 6 and the removal of the words ‘high treason’ or ‘treason’ from it. That there are still such people in the country is a ray of hope. That many in the chattering classes don’t think highly of them is a badge of honour.
If Musharraf were to go abroad it certainly would be good for him but it would be better for Nawaz Sharif for it would press the ‘pause’ button and delay his self-destruction. Else, whatever happens to Musharraf, this bogus treason case will eat up Nawaz Sharif and his government. That I can bet on. He should ponder the fate of his political father and mentor Zia ul Haq who wrongly hanged Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
Our wrongdoings are many and varied. We persistently elect dictator-dacoits in democrat’s clothing and then lament our sorry lot, hypocritically pretending that we had nothing to do with it. Given another chance, we go and elect the old dictator-dacoit in democrat’s clothing and starting lamenting our lot again; praising the dictator-dacoit in democrat’s clothing we have just thrown out. And so the downward spiral goes until it becomes a deadly vortex from which there is no escape, only an abyss where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth.