By S. M. Hali 

Pervez Musharraf has landed himself between the devil and the deep blue sea. He had returned to Pakistan with the hope of participating in the general elections and perhaps save Pakistan from the quagmire it is in. Unfortunately, not only were all his efforts to fight the elections were in vain as one by one his nomination papers were rejected by Pakistan’s Election Commission but numerous law suits have been filed against him, including the Supreme Court’s decision to hear a petition seeking the former military ruler’s trial for treason. Several cases have been filed against the former military ruler over the imposition of the 2007 emergency, the assassination of Pakistan People’s Party chief Benazir Bhutto and the 2006 killing of Baloch leader Akbar Bugti in a military operation.

Islamabad High Court rejected his bail plea, causing his detention, initially in the Police Lines and later at his own residence being declared a sub-jail. To add insult to injury, the Taliban have not only issued a warning to eliminate him but have announced the formation of a special death squad with precise instructions to assassinate him. A video to the effect is circulating the internet protocol.

Musharraf’s action to beat a hasty retreat to his farm house from the Islamabad High Court, once his bail plea was rejected, made him the butt of ridicule, since as a former commando he had been claiming that he was scared of no one. Good sense prevailed and he finally courted arrest. However, as the cases against him are building up and the judiciary, which was once targeted by his military regime and cracked down upon with brute force, once he had sacked the Chief Justice of Pakistan and the judiciary had risen to restore him, is now baying for Musharraf’s blood. The humiliation faced by Musharraf during the incident of a lawyer hurling his shoes at him in the precincts of the judiciary was only the tip of the iceberg.

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[box] Perhaps they may be reminded of the instance of the fourth caliph of Islam, Hazrat Ali (RAU), who during a battle, had floored a Jew opponent and was about to behead him, when the Jew spat on the face of the Caliph. Hazrat Ali (RAU) spared his life stating that “I was going to kill you since you took up cudgels against Islam; however, after spitting on my face, if I kill you, it will be personal vengeance.” There is no place for personal enmity in Islam. [/box]

Lawyers have clashed with Musharraf’s handful of supporters with fisticuffs and are an indication of what is in store for the retired General. It is but certain that with the history of the courts’ clash with the dictator still fresh in our memory, it is apparent that the latter is likely to be meted the maximum penalty in each of the cases being heard. The court has already indicated its partiality when former Prime Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf, against whom cases of corruption had been registered, was initially disbarred from participating in the elections but later permitted on the other hand, Parvez Musharraf’s cases are still in the investigation phase but he has been disbarred from the elections.

The treason cases carry the maximum penalty of death and Musharraf should not expect clemency from a judiciary, which has suffered at his own hands. The interim government has got cold feet and informed the Supreme Court that it cannot initiate high treason case against former President Pervez Musharraf as it has only a mandate to hold elections. The apex court had on Monday sought reply from the federation about five identical petitions, seeking high treason proceedings against him for Musharraf for suspending constitution and imposing emergency in 2007. The Attorney General submitted a two-page written reply on behalf of the government, which states that the caretaker government is busy in preparations for the May 11 parliamentary elections and will not be able to pursue high treason case against Musharraf.

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Musharraf’s ploy has been to rope in other institutions and agencies in the quandary of various court cases, which has not earned him brownie points. However, The Army, the one constituency, he was banking upon to have supported him, has been impartial so far. It had even advised him not to consider returning to Pakistan from his self-imposed exile. Either his illusions of grandeur or the failing of an able field commander, “the inability to read the ground situation”, has caused him dearly. The discovery of an explosives laden vehicle close to his place of detention is a clear warning from the Taliban. He will either be targeted by the extremists, who have vowed vengeance for Lal Masjid and other operations or the judiciary would gleefully see him hanged to death.

Under the circumstances, perhaps discretion would be a better of valour; since rhetoric aside, “he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.”  Perhaps Musharraf’s defence counsel should prepare a case for his proceeding abroad to seek medical treatment rather than face the wrath of the judiciary.

The judiciary, on the other hand should also shed aside animosity and try the cases against the former military dictator purely on merit. Pakistan’s judiciary was noted for its complicity with former military dictators, providing them with the proverbial “fig leaf” of hiding their illegal usurpation of power under the “doctrine of necessity”. Members of the judiciary had taken oath under the provisional constitutional order to give legitimacy to various military dictators. Such actions had brought disrepute to the judiciary. After its hard fought struggle for independence, if the judiciary were now to give sway to its own emotions and hatred of the former military dictator and punish him without giving due credence to the evidence, then their struggle for independence will come to naught. Justice is supposed to be blind.

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Perhaps they may be reminded of the instance of the fourth caliph of Islam, Hazrat Ali (RAU), who during a battle, had floored a Jew opponent and was about to behead him, when the Jew spat on the face of the Caliph. Hazrat Ali (RAU) spared his life stating that “I was going to kill you since you took up cudgels against Islam; however, after spitting on my face, if I kill you, it will be personal vengeance.” There is no place for personal enmity in Islam. Our brothers and sisters in the judicial cadre would be well reminded to be fair and let justice not only be carried out but appear to have been carried out.

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