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Editorial | LHC Verdict: Back To Square One

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The Lahore High Court has declared the formation of the special court which had sentenced former president Pervez Musharraf to death for high treason to be ‘unconstitutional’. With this, the pendulum appears to be almost back where it started.

But it had swung quite far, indeed, at one point. Consider: the special court had found the former military ruler to be in violation of Article 6 of the Constitution of Pakistan and handed out the full punishment in accordance with this.
Soon after this unprecedented decision, the special court went so far as to include the infamous paragraph 66 in its verdict, which called for excessive measures such as hanging his corpse if he died before the implementation of the death penalty. From here the push-back against the verdict – and the special court itself – picked up momentum.

We are now at a point where judicial authorities have called into question the special court as well as the case presented to it against the former strongman. It remains to be seen whether the verdict itself will also be struck down.

It is likely that the judiciary will eventually settle upon some sort of middle-of-the-road arrangement that avoids both these polar positions on General Musharraf and the Constitution. For the sake of stability and democratic legitimacy in Pakistan, it is hoped that whenever this happens, it takes into account both the need to uphold civilian supremacy and the imperative to avoid excessive reactions to past infractions.

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