Error, trial and deception

Posted by Admin On Tuesday, 11 February 2014 0 comments

Pervez Musharraf’s trial is not likely to serve any purpose 

This is not in defence of the former military dictator, Pervez Musharraf. But there is a saying that you should give the devil his due. And the same applies to the former president and army chief of Pakistan, who sits cool as the political dispensation tries to indict, and subsequently convict him in a high treason case. The establishment that he ruled for almost a decade stands behind him, and makes life difficult for the movers and-shakers in Islamabad. Though the rejuvenated judiciary is bent on trying Musharraf on treason charges, the case against him in a special court is going nowhere as it awaits his personal appearance and he is defiant to the core.
This reminds me of his conviction at the zenith of his power when he used to reject all arguments against him by saying, ‘Pakistan comes first’, and he had his way by hook or by crook. Other than the capitulation that he showed after he received a call from the then US secretary of state Colin Powell, urging him to stand with Washington in its would-be war against terrorism, Musharraf was his man man throughout his eight-year tenure and his performance had its high points. He kept the dollar glued at Rs 60 as the country excelled in corporate business. He fathered the electronic media and gave it a new identity. Civil society and the minorities benefited from his non-partisan governance.
This doesn’t mean that he was infallible. In fact, he indulged in a severe blunder by regrouping all the defeatist political elements and packing his own cabinet with technocrats. In his quest to keep two major political parties out of the governance frame, he obliged all kinds of minions. This is where Musharraf’s decline started and ended with a piece of executive order through which he sent the judges of the Supreme Court packing. Irrespective of what he has to say in his defence in the court of law, moving against judiciary was unwarranted and expedited his fall. It is here that civil society shunned him and rallied for his ouster. The man who wore two hats — of army chief and the president — was like a feeble straw as the winds of change started blowing against him. Now in the dock under treason charges, Musharraf is playing his cards close to his chest. The trial has already taken several twists. Even before the judges met, Musharraf claimed that he couldn’t be made to stand trial in a civil court as whatever he did was done in his capacity as the army chief. Then his motorcade ended up in an army hospital on the excuse that he had heart trouble on the way to the court. The justices await his arrival, and keep their fingers crossed as they have inadvertently been made to cross swords with the powerful army where the accused has taken refuge for the last one month.
Many believe that his trial is tantamount to bringing the powerful military under the scanner. If Musharraf is to be tried, many sacred cows, both military and civil, would come in the line of fire. The army is perturbed but is keeping its cool to this day. While the geopolitical situation of Pakistan is fluid, It won’t be a surprise if the panel trying Musharraf walks out for unspecified reasons under the infamous “law of necessity”. This is widely being seen as the easiest way out to avoid a face-off with the army.
The popular demand is that all should be put on trial from the very first military coup in Pakistan. That should include both civilians and members of the judiciary who abetted the men in uniform. That is what the people of Pakistan want. But that is not possible in the republic of Pakistan. The reason: The invisible powers in Pakistan cannot afford a public exposure. Therefore, they won’t be held accountable ever for any of their crimes.
 Musharraf’s trial is thus more of an eyewash than serving a purpose. Still it is likely to open a Pandora’s box. In the words of Shaikh Rashid, a veteran politician from Rawalpindi, the politicians of Pakistan are a test-tube output of military laboratories, and do not have the spine to take on the army. That is why if Musharraf spills the beans and names the beneficiaries of his era, Pakistan’s fragile democracy will collapse like a house of cards. If he is exonerated, an adamant Musharraf will have the last laugh. There is hardly any room for his conviction in the political quagmire.

Ishtiaq Ali Mehkri is an assistant editor with Khaleej Times


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