Editorial | Musharraf Treason Verdict Is A Fresh Start In Undoing Judiciary's Questionable Role

In a dramatic and unprecedented verdict, a special court has found former president and military chief General ® Pervez Musharraf as guilty of high treason under Article 6 of the Constitution of Pakistan. General Musharraf has the dubious distinction of imposing martial law twice during his tenure as the army chief. The first coup of 1999 was ratified by the Supreme Court under the infamous doctrine of necessity. But the second coup masked as ‘emergency’ in November 2007 was not validated by any court.

This treason case was initiated by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif who had to pay a heavy price for bringing a former army chief to the court and setting a precedent of accountability. Sharif was accused of pursuing vendetta against Gen. Musharraf but the underlying principle was not wrong. As events unfolded Sharif was ousted, disqualified for life and later jailed. But his position has been vindicated by the special court. The PPP has also welcomed the verdict as it holds Musharraf responsible for neglecting late Benazir Bhutto's security and his administration's - deliberate or unwitting - involvement in her murder.

Unsurprisingly, the military has reacted to the verdict in strong words. In a statement released by ISPR, the generals have expressed their displeasure at the judges. This event follows another unprecedented move by the Supreme Court wherein it had suspended the three-year extension granted to the incumbent COAS by Prime Minister Imran Khan last month. Gen. Bajwa's extension is now subject to a parliamentary debate and legislation.

The recent verdict is a welcome one, for its symbolism cannot be overlooked even though the decision seems un-implementable. The judiciary has made a fresh start in undoing its questionable role as playing a second fiddle to the most powerful centre of the Pakistani state. If Pakistan is to move towards constitutional supremacy, the practice of trampling the constitution and its provisions should be put to halt for good.

We do not support the death penalty under any circumstance, and there are many other options if General Musharraf has to be punished as per the law. The critical illness of the former president, however, complicates this issue. Not to mention the lack of accountability of those who aided and abetted the imposition of the emergency. Such brazen violations of the constitution are not the handiwork of an individual. Many advisers and abettors of General Musharraf’s transgressions are present in the ruling party and some are members of other political parties. This poses a political and legal quandary which would need to be addressed in the months and years to come.

Naya Daur Media (NDM) is a bi-lingual progressive digital media platform aiming to inform and educate Pakistanis at home and abroad. Subscribe to our YouTube channel here Follow us on Facebook   Twitter and Instagram Visit our Urdu website