The ex-strong man of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf is to stand trial for high treason and in all probability, Pakistan is headed for another martial law. For the majority of its history Pakistan has remained under military rule. From late 50’s onwards, Pakistan has been ruled by army generals with the latest being Musharraf.
Musharraf toppled the elected government of Nawaz Sharif in 1999 and ruled till 2008. Now the tables are turned and its appears that it is Sharif’s turn to disgrace the retired general, in what is widely seen as a personal vendetta between the two.
Musharraf’s bloodless coup was welcomed by the nation. He was seen as a messiah. Someone who had the guts and the vision to transform Pakistan and set it on the right path of social equality and economic prosperity. It was not to be because, like those in power before him, he was hijacked by a powerful group. This group of corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and clerics lead him down the wrong path. He committed a number of blunders, or was rather made to commit them. This lead to an alarming decrease in his popularity among the masses; so much so that by 2008 he had to resign in order not to be impeached.
Musharraf was in a self-imposed exile for 5 years, giving lectures in Europe and America. Then in March he decided to return to Pakistan to take part in the general elections. Expecting hundreds of thousands supporters to greet him on his return, he instead was escorted by the police to his palatial Mediterranean villa situated in the outskirts of Islamabad. His house was declared a sub-jail by the government and he was placed under house arrest. It was always on the cards that Musharraf will have to face the charge of high treason, and an essential corollary is the route of imposition of martial law in Pakistan.
Cases in which he was declared a proclaimed offender were opened up against him. Musharraf was granted bail in all the cases registered against him last month. In addition, he was cautioned not to leave the country till the final verdict in all these cases was announced. The four important cases against Musharraf are: the assassination of Benazir Bhutto; the Judges case; the murder of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti case and the imposition of emergency in 2007 case. The high treason case is the off-shoot of the last mentioned imposition of emergency and abrogation of the constitution case.
Musharraf to date is adamant that he imposed emergency and abrogated the constitution in the best interest of the country and the nation. He reiterated this stance recently in a television interview he gave to ARY, a Dubai based private television channel.
Initially, in order to ensure full transparency, the case of high treason under article six of the constitution was to be open to national and international media. After due deliberation because of the sensitive nature of the case and the security risks involved it has been decided that the trial will be “in camera.”
Whatever the final outcome of this case, Pakistan army will, out of necessity, have to intervene at some juncture. Such an intervention could only mean one thing – that the fledgling democracy is going to be unceremoniously wrapped up in Pakistan once again. In other words, because of this case of high treason under article six of the constitution against Musharraf, Pakistan is heading down the all too familiar route of another martial law.
By Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada