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Editorial | Faustian Bargain: Imran Khan Govt Saves Musharraf And Undermines Itself

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The kid-gloves are off and the federal government has stepped in directly to prevent the high treason case against General Musharraf from reaching its logical conclusion: i.e. conviction under Article 6 of the Pakistani constitution.

It is widely known that politics can be a fairly “dirty” and unprincipled process. And it would appear that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government are willing to do anything to underline this conventional wisdom.

Even so, recent decision-making on the part of the PTI government has been particularly baffling. For a government that is so sensitive to accusations of being “Selected”, it seems extraordinarily rash to go the extra mile for General Musharraf. In fact, the government has gone many a mile for the former strongman, to the extent of throwing the entire weight of its administrative machinery into resurrecting the tired old arguments of his legal team. Effectively, the ruling party has become Musharraf’s legal team.

Now, there is only one possible conclusion to be drawn from the government’s positioning on this issue, coupled with its simultaneous efforts to secure a procedurally flawed extension for Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

To put it simply, these are the actions of a ruling party with no confidence in its own political capital and scant regard for the feelings of its own constituency – let alone the rest of Pakistan. Any government with even the slightest faith in its legitimacy would have paid, at the very least, lip service to the idea of constitutional democracy in Pakistan.

Such unnecessarily open support for a former dictator means that the PTI leadership has stopped caring about accusations that it made a Faustian bargain in exchange for power. Instead, it seems to have enthusiastically embraced the bargain. It is a nihilistic decision, which cannot be justified even by a desire for survival in the corridors of power.

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After all, what pressures or considerations could be powerful enough to convince a populist administration to adopt the old status quo so firmly, in defiance of a particularly assertive judiciary and increasingly embittered public opinion?

Having totally ceded its conscience, the government has also given up all claim to decision-making authority. This will end in tragedy for the administration and heart-break for the young support-base that it had energized not too long ago.

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