The Islamabad High Court (IHC) reserved a verdict in the petitions filed by former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government to postpone the announcement of a judgement in a treason trial against the former president.
In a hearing conducted in Islamabad, a three member bench of the high court, comprising of IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani first heard the petition filed by the PTI government. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government had filed the treason case against Musharraf over the president’s imposition of extra-constitutional emergency in November 2007.
Former military ruler Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf had said, back in 2013, that he was ready to face any lawsuits filed against by the then newly elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whom the former had sacked in a military coup in 1999. In 2014 a high treason case was registered against Musharraf for unlawfully suspending the Constitution in 2007 and placing emergency rule. By 2016 he was able to secure an exit from the country on medical grounds, promising to return ‘within weeks’.
More than three years have passed since and a verdict in the case had finally been reserved by a special court. Naturally, General Musharraf has challenged the verdict, petitioning both the LHC and IHC to restrict the announcement of the verdict. What is more inopportune is that the PTI government is also at the forefront in trying to delay the verdict, asking for a new trial under its new prosecution team after suspending the prosecution team hired by the previous PML(N) government.
There is no such thing as coincidence until one comes across one. The dramatic departure of Nawaz Sharif may have jeopardized government’s accountability saga as well as the former’s righteousness tales from behind the bars , however, nonetheless has magically opened a door of opportunity for General Pervaiz Musharraf.
The PTI’s current Law Minister, Farogh Naseem, had defended General Musharraf in several cases, the current Attorney-General, Anwar Mansoor, has been closely tied to the treason case and the current Interior Minister, Brig Ijaz Shah, was a close confidant of General Musharraf, having served in various posts during his tenure.
This is a serious conflict of interest that needs to be addressed by the government if it truly is seeking justice in a case as serious as charging a former military dictator with high treason. The timing for this move on the part of the government is especially troubling.
After taking office it waited for close to 14 months to raise objections over the finding and filings of the original prosecution team, leading to their de-notification. Only when the special court had moved towards concluding the case and issuing a verdict based on the original prosecution team’s evidence and arguments did the government spring into action.
The Incumbent government had no choice but to attempt to delay the inevitable and hence the author’s surmise that Musharraf’s death is being awaited as allowing the law to take its course will have very unpredictable implications for unpredictable number of people.
Imran’s claim that he will work towards bringing an equal justice system will ring hollow. If Musharraf is convicted by the courts then every potential dictator in the future will hesitate before abrogating the constitution, and Pakistan’s ‘invisible forces’ will hopefully think twice before trying to move the strings from behind the curtains.
This case can turn the tides of history either way, and unfortunately both Imran and PTI are currently standing on the wrong side of history by wanting to protect an individual who undermined the constitution. However, this is not simply about one man. However, PTI Imran Khan and his Cabinet members could run the risk of being remembered by history as the saviours of a dictator who was about to be brought to justice.