The short order of the ‘special court trying Musharraf had
left many questions unanswered. The detailed order that followed had no
ambiguity as to the intent and purpose of the court and the mindset of the chief
judge. Legal shortcomings apart, the language of the said decision has attracted
scathing criticism at home and abroad.It was a typical example of the ‘language
of the Bazar’ or the ‘bazari’ language. With a selected sprinkling of a few
four-letter words, the expression would have done the downtown riffraff
immensely proud.It also reflected a great deal onthe system that had brought the
chief judge this far.
The social media has given the judge tit-for-tat. But somber mindsseemed
seriously concerned about his mental health. They recommend his suspension until
he gets psychologically rehabilitated. It will also be worthwhile to consider
putting him in protective custody to save him from possible physical harm.
The last few days had seenthe commencement of a sudden judicial offensive for no
apparent reasonexcept a frustrated PM complaining about a subordinate court
permitting Nawaz Sharif to make his escape good without worthwhile guarantees.
Immediately after that in his first publicappearance, the Chief Justice (CJ)
seemed visibly irritated in a ‘how dare you’ stance. He proudly recounted the
accomplishments of the judiciary like sacking and disqualifying previous prime
ministers. Then he had raised his arms in taunting mimicry of Musharraf and said
that an ex-Army general’s case was also about to be decided. This provocative
gesture of the CJ is thought to have spurred the junior judge into an abrasive
Earlieran advocate, a known habitual spoiler had challenged theextension granted
to the Army Chief. Perhaps overawed by the enormity of his challenge he had
immediately withdrawn his application.It was not to be. It looked as if the
Supreme Court was waiting for such an opportunity. It refused to let go the
application and turned it into a Suo Moto notice.Moving with a super-sonic speed
theCourt had reached its decision humbling both, the Chief Executive and the
Army Chief in one swift blow.
Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan said that the act of the supreme court was absolutely
unnecessary and superfluous or words to that effect. Mr. Aitzaz had missed the
inevitable “I”, the ego. Once it possesses a mind, it robs it off all the good
sense and smothers the sense of proportion, the hallmark of wisdom. The
venerable Chief Justice, days before his honorable exit had chosen to badly
compromise his stature.
The special court in its consequential decision on Musharraf was perhaps carried
away by the unusual audacity displayed by the Chief Justice. It readily took the
plunge after him. The special court, according to the attorney general had
unfortunately acted rashly and in indecenthaste.
A mortified Military stood deeply hurt,with wounded pride, andtarnished image.
For the first time in history an ex-president and the Army Chief had been
sentenced to death for high treason. The narrativebuilt by the ‘Special Court’
is clumsy and unconvincing.
The Musharraf saga is well documented. In 1999, he was compelled to take over
the country from a half-witted and whimsical Nawaz Sharif busy playingyet
another childish trick on the Army. In 2007, he temporarily suspended the
constitution again and clamped emergency to deal with what in his perception was
a rebelling chief justice. On both the occasions the constitution had been
temporarily suspended, not abrogated and restored the soonest possible.
When Nawaz Sharif came back to take his turn in power as arranged with the PPP
in the ‘Charter of Democracy’, he ordered Musharraf’s trial for treason in a
clear act of personal vendetta.Sharif had not even cared to get his cabinet’s
approval. The obliging Supreme Court had immediately constituted a special court
to try Musharraf without bothering to scrutinize in detail the validity of
Sharif’s request. Nowhere in the world an Epic court is expected to actas
impetuously in cases of national import.
The terms of reference were intriguingly tailormade to suit Sharif’s
viciousness. Instead of taking cognizance of Musharraf’s 1999 affront, the court
undertook to charge him for declaration of emergency in 2007 that had
empoweredMusharraf to sack the then Chief Justice.It looks that the honorable
court was not so much interested in the violation of the constitution in 1999,
as to theclamping of emergency in 2007 that had clipped the wings of a
troublesome Justice. Though the said Chief Justice was later restored, much to
the regret of the following government, the “I” would not rest in peace unless
Musharraf’s head was brought on a platter to serve as a warningto all the future
rulers of Pakistan to stay clear of the judiciary.
The salvo had been fired. The fire ignited. The Military became apprehensive for
many reasons. The Chief had to call an urgent conference to help ease taut
nerves. The commandoes live by a unique esprit de corps which an outsider can
hardly ever imagine. The Army Chief alive to thissensitivity had to rush to the
Commandoes Headquarters to sooth the agitated minds and calm the indignant
The spontaneous nationwide support must have come as a surprise to even the
staunchest of Musharraf apologists. The court in its utter naivety had indeed
opened a pandora’s box of unlimited proportions. The Military has maintained its
professional focus and composure and has refused to be dragged in silly
assertions of self-importance.
For a dwindling democracy to find steady legs to stand upon, all the
institutions must strictly operate in their respective territories. As far
Pakistan, let us not forget that “my enemy is my enemy, my friend’s enemy and my
enemy’s friend”. Those whose actions please the enemies of Pakistan must decide
for themselves where they stand.
(The author has served Pakistan Army as Major General. His book “Pakistan in
Search of a Messiah”)