The treason trial against retired general Pervez Musharraf is nothing but a farce enacted by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government to placate certain elements in society, including the Taliban. The Taliban peace talks are all but over and the activists appear to be no more than fanatical buffoons. With each day, it becomes clear that the government does not have the will or the power to indict a former president, especially a former Chief of Army Staff (COAS).
It was clear from day one that the toothless government of Prime Minister Narwaz Sharif does not possess what it takes to punish Musharraf for his alleged indiscretions while he was in power. First and foremost, the trial could not begin for security reasons. Once that excuse stopped working, Musharraf got himself admitted to the hospital and once again, the trial was adjourned. Now, after Raheel Sharif, the present chief of Pakistan army’s visit to Saudi Arabia, a clandestine deal has been struck so Musharraf, in a king-like fashion, today made his first appearance before the special trial court. He came from the hospital and, in a matter of minutes, left to return to the hospital without being formally charged, which is the normal procedure.
According to the majority of political analysts, Musharraf’s return to Pakistan was an ill-timed and ill-advised move, but on the other hand, Sharif’s government step to initiate a high treason case against him was even worse and no more than a big farce. It is no secret in Pakistan that the parliament, judiciary and the media are all helpless bystanders when it comes to matters concerning Pakistani army. For the majority of Pakistan’s tumultuous history, the army has ruled the country and even when a political dispensation is in place, the real power rests with the men in uniform. The Pakistani army does as it pleases, bypassing the parliament and the judiciary, especially when its interests are at stake.
In Pakistan, a popularly elected Prime Minister Z.A. Bhutto was hanged, while another Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (with a heavy mandate) was toppled in a bloodless coup and exiled for 10 years, because the army wanted it. In such a country and under such circumstances, it is no wonder Musharraf can toy with judiciary and by the end of the day, get away with it as well. This is the bitter reality in Pakistan, and no one can dare deny this truth.
It was a foregone conclusion that Musharraf would at some stage be allowed to leave the country honorably and the government of Sharif would not be able to do anything about it. That time has now arrived, and because of assurances given by the powers-that-be, that was the only reason Musharraf appeared for the first time before the special court that planned to try him.
By now, the government of Sharif must have realized the futility of the whole endeavor. The political pundits agree that the recent visit by a Saudi prince to Pakistan was for the sole purpose of facilitating an honorable and safe exit for Musharraf, thereby ending the Musharraf high treason trial farce for good.
By Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada