Be Careful, Mian Sahib!
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!