Non-bailable warrants for arrest of retired General Pervez Musharraf have been issued by the special court instituted to hear the high treason case registered against him. Since the opening of the trial Musharraf has only appeared once in front of the special court. He and his lawyers have time and time again presented one excuse after another for his inability to appear before the court. The excuses have ranged from security issues to his deteriorating health.
Musharraf by not appearing before the court is making fun of the toothless judiciary of Pakistan. Further his non-appearance reinforces the fact that Pakistan Armed Forces are the real power brokers in Pakistan.
The present case against Musharraf is that he arbitrarily clamped emergency, suspended the higher judiciary and abrogated the constitution of Pakistan by holding in abeyance the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution of Pakistan.
The military establishment is unveiling the actual state of affairs of the legal system in Pakistan and consequently showing the corrupt and spineless judiciary of the country. How more farcical can it get than the present. There was a time in the judicial history of Pakistan when the ex-chief justice took suo motto action on anything and everything. This included the plight of the missing persons, believed to be held by the agencies to the prices of tomatoes and okra (lady-finger). The reality is slowly but surely dawning on the common citizen of Pakistan that the judiciary, not only the sessions level but the higher judiciary lacks the power or the backing by the government to run a trial against a military strong man.
Musharraf came to power by carrying out a bloodless coup. He toppled the government of the present prime minister Nawaz Sharif. According to the record Sharif replaced him as the chief-of-army-staff (COAS) while he was returning from an official trip to Sri Lanka. The power of army in Pakistan can be gauged from the fact that a popularly elected albeit corrupt and inefficient government was booted out of office while Musharraf was still in air on the airplane returning home from Sri Lanka.
Sharif’s mistake was that he made the then Director General Inter Services Intelligence as the COAS in place of Musharraf. He was ill-advised, if he had made one of the corps commander as the head of Pakistan army, no coup would have taken place but he wanted to place someone as the head of Pakistan army, who did not command a corps. The ISI is powerful but not as much as national and international community makes it to be. Had it been so Sharif would have had his way which as history records he did not.
Most of the political commentators believe that it is for toppling Sharif’s government in 1999 and not for declaring emergency in Pakistan that Musharraf is charged with high treason under article six of the constitution of Pakistan. The penalty for high treason, it goes without saying is death. Pakistan at the moment has moratorium on death penalty, so the maximum punishment in this case is life-imprisonment. But that too is unlikely, as Pakistan army would never allow one of its chief’s, retired General Pervez Musharraf to be sentenced for high treason.
Editorial by Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada