Be Care­ful, Mian Sahib!

Southasia - - COMMENT - Syed Jawaid Iqbal

There were many who joined the po­lit­i­cal cho­rus urg­ing Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif to in­sti­tute high trea­son pro­ceed­ings against for­mer Pres­i­dent Pervez Mushar­raf. It is quite strange though that the PPP govern­ment did not bring about such le­gal ac­tion in its own five years of power, though there were peo­ple in its fold like Raza Rab­bani, one among the last few re­main­ing gen­uine and hon­est PPP ide­o­logues, who still be­lieve in the po­lit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy of Zul­fikar Ali Bhutto and Be­nazir Bhutto, who called for such ac­tion.

Per­haps there was a hid­den agenda be­hind PPP’s strat­egy or maybe there were other machi­na­tions at work then and are in ev­i­dence now as the in­cum­bent prime min­is­ter and his PML(N), which com­mands al­most twothirds ma­jor­ity in the National Assem­bly, has been en­cour­aged to com­mence le­gal pro­ceed­ings against the Nov. 3, 2007 ac­tions of Gen. Pervez Mushar­raf when he is said to have sub­verted the Con­sti­tu­tion by im­pos­ing emer­gency in Pak­istan. It al­most sounds as if var­i­ous in­ter­ested quar­ters are re­peat­ing to Mr. Nawaz Sharif the pop­u­lar apho­rism: ‘ Charh Ja Beta Sooli Par, Ram Bhali Karey Ga.’ (Go and climb the gal­lows son, God will help you). In his en­thu­si­asm to act on the bid­ding of oth­ers, Nawaz Sharif has also con­ve­niently for­got­ten that mat­ters go back to Oct. 12, 1999 and Pervez Mushar­raf would not have been around to im­pose Emer­gency on Nov 3, 2007 if he had not been given the rea­son to take over power as a re­sult of events set in mo­tion fol­low­ing Mr. Nawaz Sharif’s per­sonal ac­tions on an Oc­to­ber day eight years ear­lier.

It is ob­vi­ous that in the present cir­cum­stances, his spir­its rid­ing high fol­low­ing the his­tor­i­cal suc­cess of his party in the gen­eral elec­tions, Mr. Nawaz Sharif has been sweet-talked and mol­ly­cod­dled by the higher ju­di­ciary which it­self har­bours a pen­chant for ju­di­cial ac­tivism. Since the Con­sti­tu­tion of Pak­istan does not em­power the ju­di­ciary to in­sti­tute suo moto ac­tion un­der Ar­ti­cle 6 against an act of al­leged high trea­son, the govern­ment of Nawaz Sharif has been ‘en­cour­aged’ by the self-styled ju­di­cial ac­tivists to ap­proach the courts for pro­ceed­ings against Gen­eral Mushar­raf un­der rel­e­vant pro­vi­sions of the Con­sti­tu­tion and thus set­tle many a per­sonal score.

In try­ing Mushar­raf for high trea­son, the govern­ment and ju­di­ciary are set­ting a danger­ous prece­dence for a coun­try like Pak­istan where democ­racy is still at a nascent stage and has not at­tained ma­tu­rity in both con­cept and prac­tice. There is also a need to re­move the mis­con­cep­tion in cer­tain po­lit­i­cal quar­ters that by pro­ceed­ing against Mushar­raf, the mes­sage will go loud and clear to fu­ture ad­ven­tur­ists in uni­form that the days of Mar­tial Law are over. Se­nior politi­cian Chaudhry Shu­jaat may not be rec­og­nized for spew­ing out many gems of wis­dom but the one valu­able quip that he is known for is to the ef­fect that all it takes for those in uni­form to take over power is ‘one jeep and two trucks’.

As the Mushar­raf trial pro­ceeds and the govern­ment be­comes fur­ther em­broiled in it, there is no doubt that other press­ing mat­ters of state will be thrown to the winds, which will fur­ther mag­nify the tra­vails of the al­ready suf­fer­ing masses rather than re­duc­ing them. Nawaz Sharif and the do-good­ers around him should fear the day when, af­ter hav­ing sent Mushar­raf to his ‘log­i­cal’ end in the midst of loud ap­plause, they will turn around and find them­selves alone in the cold be­cause the clap­ping spec­ta­tors, their ends hav­ing been achieved, would have qui­etly dis­ap­peared by then. That will be the time when Nawaz Sharif and his po­lit­i­cal part­ners may not have enough time to stop the trucks be­cause they would have ig­nored de­liv­ery of good gov­er­nance and law and or­der to the peo­ple. They would then also re­alise that the ap­plause was not to wel­come the ar­rival of the boots but to cel­e­brate the un­cer­e­mo­ni­ous exit of the politi­cians. Be care­ful, Mian Sahib!

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