There has been some baying for blood in the treason case against ex-dictator General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. Those making the calls will undoubtedly be disappointed by the caretaker government’s decision not to pursue the charges made against Musharraf under Article 6 of the Constitution. Attorney General (AG) Irfan Qadir informed the Supreme Court about the government’s stance on April 22, in response to the apex Court’s statement that charges of treason should only be brought against a citizen by the state. This, of course, is perfectly logical.
The caretakers may, from some quarters, be accused of cowardice. But they have, essentially speaking, acted wisely. As the government has pointed out through the AG, getting embroiled in a controversy such as the treason charge which enwraps General (retd) Musharraf, may detract from the coming election and its conduct, while also leaving the incoming government tied up in a sensitive issue with many potential complications. This it has deemed would not be fair and any decision regarding the issue should be made by the incoming government, elected by the people. The role of the interim set-up, now here only for a few more weeks, is after all, only to conduct a fair poll and hand over power. This should remain its focus and its recognition of this is welcome. Indeed, at its cabinet meeting, the caretakers also decided not to take action on longer-term projects, so that any new government was not tied down by them. Clearly Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso and his team have their priorities laid out quite clearly before them. We should be glad.
Of course, persons who have committed crimes or broken the law need to be punished for these offences. It seems very likely that General (retd) Musharraf does indeed fall in this category, looking at history. But the matter needs to be handled by an elected, full-time government, which can ponder all the repercussions. The caretakers have a definite role: organising an election. They should not look beyond this target and instead leave matters for a future government to sort out on the basis of whatever policies it chooses to adopt. The approach taken then, is a wise one.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2013.
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