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EditorialMusharraf’s return to ‘burial place’

Musharraf’s return to ‘burial place’

Former military ruler General (retd) Pervez Musharraf has been on his death bed and wanted to spend the rest of his life in his homeland as he has been living in Dubai since 2016. Apparently, it might be the last chapter of a person’s life, who has left some lasting imprints on Pakistan’s politics while his military life is also full of warfare adventures. Musharraf’s true character came into the limelight after the 1999 coup when he seized power after then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif tried to dismiss him as the army chief. The basis for their differences was the Kargil war and the rift continued between former president Musharraf and three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif during later years. After coming into power in May 2013, a confident PML-N’s federal government took the extraordinary step of bringing charges of high treason against the former dictator in a special court. Predictions and assertions were made that the trial would be speedily concluded. There was an unquestionable amount of hype around the treason trial, as it was being touted as a ‘historic’ occurrence that would reshape the contours of democracy, redefine the civil-military relationship, and set a positive precedent that would inhibit any future imposition of martial law, but unfortunately, it could not happen. In fact, the case resulted in further deepening a rift in the civil-military relationship while the judiciary once again failed to make a decisive judgement in the case. Though Musharraf was awarded a death sentence in 2019 the case was later nullified due to alleged pressure by the military establishment as the institution of the army always stood by its former chief during all the testing times. Now, in view of his serious illness, the PML-N has softened its stance and expressed no objection to his return. The military is also ready to facilitate the return of the ex-president.

The fact is that the army is not ready to compromise on the honour and dignity of their former chief despite the fact he made a number of controversial decisions and faced charges of suspending the constitution, dismissing judges, placing them under house arrest, and imposing the emergency. In addition to these charges, he was charged with the failure to provide adequate security to former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in December 2007. Putting a former dictator and chief of the country’s most powerful institution on trial for treason was never going to pan out the way the government desired. The investigation and trial of Pervez Musharraf for imposing the 2007 Emergency was always underlined by perceptions that this was a matter of personal vendetta for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose government was overthrown in 1999. As a result of this desire of the Sharifs to get back at the man who forced them into exile, the proceedings exclusively targeted Musharraf and no case was built against any of his alleged co-conspirators. Principles of justice and democracy demand that an example should have been set so that in the future overthrowing an elected government and abrogating the constitution are not hailed as ‘saving the country’ but treated like treasonous acts. An unresolved Musharraf case will be counted among many other cases, which had been lost in the history books without a meaningful result. Another interesting fact is that key celebrities, politicians, and military leaders wanted to enjoy the luxuries of life in much-developed states but they prefer Pakistan as their ‘burial place’ either intentionally or unintentionally.

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