By Saeed Qureshi
Barring providential intervention, apparently Pakistan’s former strong man and president Musharraf is in deep waters. Justice Faisal Arab the head of the special court seems to be poised to send Musharraf either to gallows or long imprisonment for high treason charge. Musharraf’s decision to return to Pakistan was entirely ill-conceived.
Somehow he misjudged that in the eventuality of judicial proceedings against him, he would come out of the legal battle with flying colors. He brushed aside the horrific fact that he had countless enemies mostly the religious fanatical saber rattlers and even the vicious political rank and file.
The dismal situation in which Pervez Musharraf is caught reminds me of a Pashto couplet that eloquently echoes horrendous challenges Musharraf is faced with. It says, “I do not know what to do and where to escape. All round I am surrounded by thousands of enemies”. He would not have imagined that not to speak of participating in the elections, the government in power would be headed by his staunchest foe Mian Nawaz Sharif.
Logically why would Mian Sahib brook an iota of compassion for a person who somehow is responsible for his humiliating expulsion from power for almost a decade? It is tacitly the most opportune time for Nawaz Sharif to go for a tit for tat hunt.
He is a typical Punjabi and Punjabi ethos invariably returns the compliment the way it is received. “You got me out of power and you will have to pay for that call grievously” is the mindset of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Musharraf’s attorneys are baffled and look like blunt weapons. And my reckoning is that the army will not meddle into an affair that cannot impinge upon its self esteem or pride. There seem to be not enough grounds for the army to intervene and assert its domination over the established democratic order revived after a great deal of hassle and crises.
It is to be watched if General Musharraf would appear in the special court on March 31.The court directed the government to arrest and produce Musharraf if he refuses to appear before it on his own. Akram Sheikh, the head of the “prosecution team proposed indictment of Gen Musharraf through his counsels in which the physical presence of the accused was not required”. That quirk plea was rejected by Anwar Mansoor Khan, the defense lawyer to indict Gen Musharraf through his counsels. Mr. Khan contended that “such a procedure was alien to the criminal law”
In the latest plea filed before the trial court on behalf of Musharraf, the former president has implicated his erstwhile officers as co-conspirators for the imposition of Emergency on Nov 3, 2007. That is purportedly, a judicial standpoint and it devolves upon the trial court to accept or reject it.
If this plea is accepted then the case could drag for an unspecified period of time. In that situation it could open new dimensions that would necessitate hearing of all the persons pointed out as conspirators, by Musharraf and his team of judicial defenders.
Musharraf has maintained that he imposed the Emergency after consulting the then prime minister, the governors of all four provinces and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, the chiefs of the armed forces, the vice-chief of army staff and the corps commanders of the Pakistan Army.
His claim may also involve his political cohorts who in this scenario could be stalwarts from PMLQ and even MQM. There is a possibility that the former high profile army officers could debunk this claim of Musharraf.
Yet tragically this is not the only monstrous case against Musharraf in the court of Law. There is another pending case against him: the alleged murder of Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti. A Pakistani anti-terrorism court based in Quetta, issued warrants for the arrest of two guarantors of Pervez Musharraf over his failure to appear before it in a murder case. The proverb is true in case of Musharraf that “tribulations never come alone: these come in droves”.
The bare and yawning fact is that even if Musharraf is exonerated of all the cases, he would never be a free man to stalk and walk in the land of Pakistan. He will remain confined to his mansion. His political ambitions would be absolutely hindered for dire security reasons.
The Baloch and the religious militants would always be after his life. It is such an agonizing situation for a person who otherwise, has done a lot better for the people of Pakistan than politicians in liberalizing the society and adopting a generous approach and policy towards media, both print and electronic.
As for supporting America in the war on terrorism: did he have choice? The answer is emphatically in negative. The stark reality is that Pakistan would have been penalized with vengeance in many ways by America and that could have spelled disaster for Pakistan. It was not a bad option for Pakistan siding with the American and NATO forces against a band of terrorists who were neither friends of American nor that of Pakistan.
American aid and support by way of Kerry Lugar financial Bill granting 7.5 billion dollars to Pakistan as non-military aid from the period of 2010 to 2014 was a huge economic relief for Pakistan.
It was indeed a blessing not in disguise but a candid windfall. Although the bill was passed in 2009 when Musharraf was no more in power, yet this aid was the result of his cooperation and maneuvers with the United States.
The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat.