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Treatment meted out to former Pak President Musharraf is rather unfair
Former Pakistani President and Chief of Army Staff, Pervez Musharraf, pleaded not guilty to his indictment on all five counts, three over treason and two others by a Pakistani trial court on 31 March, 2014.

Musharraf, in his defense, as reported by media, said the following during the court’s proceedings:

“I am being called a traitor. I have been Chief of Army Staff for 9 years and I have served this army for 45 years. I have fought two wars. Is it treason? Is this the way to reward someone for being loyal to the country and for loving the country?”

All are correct observations by Mr. Musharraf. But the authorities in Pakistan do not think so and they do not buy Mr. Musharraf’s arguments. Moreover, Mr. Musharraf may not have much support outside the orthodox part of Pakistan army as of now. His treason trial is a bit unfair and incorrect with too much emphasis on precision and technicalities absent otherwise in Pakistani society.

And he had the host of officials and civilian and military advisors, including a Prime Minister, Shaukat Aziz, when he took those decisions for which he is getting tried for treason. He cannot be blamed singularly for whatever inappropriate and improper happened in those times. But the prosecution thinks otherwise as it wants Mr. Musharraf to prove his innocence himself. If convicted he may face death sentence or a minimum of a life sentence.

I think the trial reflects too high a precision to be norm in Pakistan. Sure, Mr. Musharraf just cannot be termed innocent and should have committed grave crimes as it appears from his defensive statement in the court after the indictment. But he subverting, suspending and changing the Pakistani Constitution to meet his desired end, imposing emergency rule in 2007 and suspending Chief Justice of Pakistan, just cannot be the enough reasons to try former Chief of Army staff and President for treason.

The fact is that the condition of Pakistani state was not that bad during Musharraf-era. When he is being blamed for inappropriateness he should also be praised for whatever good he did to the country and should be given benefit of doubt.

The trial is a bit of manipulation or minimally deviation from the norms; those that exist in the contemporary Pakistan. This is not the correct normal in Pakistan as even ordinary people can break laws there and get away with them. Only thing is that he is being accused of offending and acting against both the major poles of Pakistani politics and military does not appear to be supportive of him either at present.

The better thing for the Pakistani establishment including its highest judiciary, lawmakers, media, activists and more aware public is to make sure that the era of Mr. Musharraf is not repeated any time soon and probably never.

Pakistani Premier Nawaz Sharif should not act on vengeance and he should know that his opinion and stand matter a lot on the fate of Mr. Musharraf. He should view Mr. Musharraf as a former ruler of Pakistan and not the person who overthrew his legitimately elected government in a bloodless coup in 1999 after Mr. Sharif tried to topple him.

Mr. Sharif should keep a bit of sympathy with Mr. Musharraf. But things are not that simple and rosy for Mr. Musharraf and he on his part should give up his all rights in Pakistan; to save himself from prosecution and almost certain conviction, including right to get pension and right to be buried in Pakistan, and should therefore, be ready for permanent exile with he only keeping right to come back for emotive and personal reasons.

In good faith he should dissolve his political party, even if that is practically non-existent and its proxies and shun all political ambitions, if left any. He should also stop appealing to people of Pakistan seeking their support.

I think that Pakistan should chart its unique way for democracy, normalcy, economic prosperity and stability different from India and independent from its influence. It is unique in the sense that it was part of India for quite long before becoming independent Islamic state in 1947. It has been under Anglican influence along with India since British arrived in the subcontinent. While its wish to compete with India on many matters should be welcomed and appreciated but it does not mean that it should try to copy Indian institutions and laws without understanding differences among the two people and nations.

The fact is that in spite of some commonalities with Northern Indians in cultural matters Pakistanis are different people from Hindu-majority Indians; psychologically and anthropologically. Therefore, Pakistan should develop its own institutions and norms and should know very well that that they would be a poor match to those of India in any time that can be conceived. Let Pakistanis stop dreaming becoming like Indians and should know that India is also imperfect and imprecise.

Moreover, the Pakistanis need to understand as well that in India big people, irrespective of their identities, rarely get punished. All get bail and even exoneration from courts. Only thing is that Mr. Musharraf has no bargaining chip remaining with himself. Personally, he is a spent force but still Pakistani authorities should have some respect for the offices he held in the past. 

If the US is putting undue pressure on Pakistani authorities to continue trying Mr. Musharraf in order to convert Pakistan and induce similar reactions in other Islamic countries, most notably in Egypt, then possibly it is overworking and overdoing stuffs which it, sincerely speaking, should avoid.

Paradoxically, it may very well want to tame Pakistani military establishment against the possibility of its takeover of civilian government in future but such an approach could head in the completely wrong direction. Or else, the US may want both in different times.

The fact is that with the constant and continued US nudging on such matters, Pakistan can change, but for worse. Eventually it may unlearn whatever it had learnt post-military rule since 2008. The fact is that conviction of Mr. Musharraf and his sentence’s execution would increase the probability of dissent among high-ranks in Pakistani military against civilian authorities and there is significant chance of it taking over from civilians.

Sure, but not in immediate future, probably not in Mr. Sharif’s present term. It could also increase frictions among the commissioned officers and lower ranks and could render Pakistani military somewhat unprofessional.

But then the US plays more sophisticated longer-termed games than most of us can think. Eventually it may be trying to induce postmodern conservatism in and around Pakistan with eyes on key countries like the Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Iraq and Egypt. On one hand it is trying to implicitly support Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and oppose Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and on other hand it is opposing General el-Sisi’s Pakistani version.

So, apparently different rules for different country but may be with hidden common background. Ultimately, it would be victory of dominant people and elites in Pakistan and elsewhere but Mr. Musharraf despite of having secured some possible support from Mr. Sharif may fall as a victim.

May be that is not the real case and the things are simpler than what I have discussed. The things may turn out to be completely different after the Saudi Arabia’s possible intervention provided the US does not object. It turned out that the Saudi Arabia may give safe passage to Mr. Musharraf.

He was instrumental in creating possibility of transferring nuclear bombs to the Saudi Arabia. That deal is yet not done apparently under the US pressure. Other than the Saudi Arabia, countries like, China and Turkey are also putting some pressure on Sharif-government to allow Mr. Musharraf a safe passage to the Saudi Arabia.

It should be noted that Mr. Sharif and his family was also granted exile in the Saudi Arabia after the coup when Mr. Musharraf was ruler of the country. Now it is Mr. Sharif’s turn. Only critical factor would be the US: ultimately it may not object. But since Mr. Musharraf is indicted, the trial may continue in absentia. If exile is permitted, then after the conviction by the court, the Pakistani government may deprive all rights and privileges of Mr. Musharraf. Better thing would be he doing himself, ‘voluntarily’.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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