Imran’s Attempt To Save Musharraf Exposes His Hypocrisy
Omer Bhatti looks at the recent Musharraf treason verdict and analyses the PTI response to it. He argues that the government response unveils their hypocrisy and the contradictions within the structure of the system.
As per General Shahid Aziz (R), who was the former Chief of General Staff, Pervez Musharraf was so powerful a figure in Pakistan’s security and political apparatus that he unilaterally promised to hand over Air Bases on Pakistani soil to the USA post 9-11.He later announced it in the Corp Commander meeting and faced severe criticism, but went ahead with this.
Ask anyone who has lost their wealth, power or repute-and they will say at first it began slowly and then it went away all at once, in the blink of an eye, in the split of a second.
This was Musharraf’s last fall, the final nail in the coffin of a man who tore apart the constitution and abused human rights like anything.
But the verdict has unfortunately laid bare the contradictions that exist in the cosmetic and structural constituents of this system.
Hypocrisy has triumphed on the government front. The PTI government earlier moved a petition in the Supreme Court to delay the verdict announcement because they believed the accused (fact check: Musharraf) could be acquitted on technical grounds.
On Tuesday, when Musharraf was sentenced to death, the PTI information minister and Attorney General were criticising the verdict as if it were against Imran Khan himself. The Imran Khan style 360-degree U-turn of his government’s stance is a result of the PTI government’s roots which lie in massive funding by business elites who are in bed with the establishment as well as a direct support by establishment over other parties vis-à-vis pressurising electable candidates to change allegiances.
It reminds of the interview Imran Khan gave in 2007 when he labelled Musharraf as a traitor for abrogating the constitution to solidify his rule. The same Imran Khan and his closest allies were seen protecting Musharraf in public yesterday. Perhaps, it is true: the only thing we learn from history is that we can predict it, and nothing else. For no one would have ever predicted in 2007 or 2018 that Imran Khan would change his views on the dictator.
While Hypocrisy and crude self-interest dominated the PTI ranks, the ISPR on the other hand made a futile press release expressing anguish and discontent over the special court verdict. To the overlord in the ISPR, and the distinguished members of the forces, it must be explained that Musharraf’s service for the Army and several tenures do not automatically acquit him for imposing emergency in 2007. The argument that he has fought in several wars and thereby cannot commit treason is as legally weak and baseless as the following is legally strong: Musharraf abrogated the constitution hence must be held liable under Article 6 of the constitution that deals with treason.
It almost appears as if this is a contest of whether an ex-general can be held accountable by civilians. The forces have court martialled their very own but that doesn’t mean that a former general who abrogated the constitution while in political office cannot be tried in a civilian court. Furthermore, an institution that cherishes its apolitical nature and neutrality should not have publicly lashed out against a court decision. Ideally, this should have been a matter between the accused and the court, not the court and the institution. The institutional involvement has portrayed the Armed forces as political contrary to its own statements. As a corollary, the statement amounted to putting pressure on the future appellate court and judges who gave the verdict which is best not applied by the most powerful institution in the country.
In the backdrop to this verdict, The Armed forces finally know the meaning of being held accountable in a civilian court of law and then be debated rigorously in public. It is a feeling reserved for politicians in the land of the pure- case in point- Bhutto, Nawaz, Benazir and so on and so forth. Ironically, the special court that announced this verdict was instituted by Nawaz Sharif to try the dictator. History does have the last laugh and it is important to be on the right side of history.
The writer is co-founder Future of Pakistan Conference and a graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science.