Analysis: Is Nawaz flexing civilian authority?

Published: June 25, 2013
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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: EXPRESS

KARACHI: 

Hopes for former military ruler General (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s “safe exit” faded on Monday when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced that the former dictator would be tried for high treason for abrogating the 1973Constitution.

Apparently, Nawaz discussed the issue with the army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani – though no independent confirmation was available. The army, it seems, has accepted the government’s prerogative on going ahead with the trial.

Already, the government has shown some early signs of political maturity. Rather than act on its own, it awaited the directives of the Supreme Court. The prime minister took parliament into confidence and first made the disclosure before the MNAs. Since May 11th, Nawaz has avoided making comments on Musharraf’s fate. Despite his willingness to try Musharraf for dislodging his government on October 12, 1999, Nawaz steered well clear of that path, realising that the Supreme Court had already declared it legal.

By moving against Musharraf, Nawaz has also put Pakistan Peoples Party and the previous government in an embarrassing position for provided safe exit to the former military chief in 2008.

Nawaz has silenced all his critics, who were not sure that he would take a position against Musharraf. This is, after all, his first major step towards establishing civilian authority.

Nawaz is also likely to announce a high-powered commission to probe the real cause of Kargil conflict.

It would be interesting to see whether the government confined the case, in the light of the Supreme Court decision in the judges case of 2009, when it declared the Nov 3rd action as illegal and unconstitutional or would also add clause 2 of Article 6, which also holds those aiding or abetting the act guilty of high treason.

So far, Sharif and the federal government have maintained their neutrality and have not shown a sense of urgency in the case or the trial. They also avoided taking any harsh position in other cases registered against him or moved any application to put him in jail instead of his Chak Shahzad house, which now serves as a sub jail.

But what about Musharraf’s possible response? In several interviews in the past Musharraf had defended his Nov 3rd action. His close aides insist that Musharraf is ready to face the trial and would make a few disclosures as well. These disclosures are likely to embarrass several political leaders, civil bureaucrats and even ex-intelligence officials.

The actual trial can take a few months and by the time the verdict is announced Pakistan will have a new president, which some insiders believe could be the same president, who was forced to resign by Musharraf, ie, Rafiq Tarar. So history is likely to be repeated. Over the past two decades, Nawaz has cultivated the reputation of someone who has at least tried to establish civilian writ. As a result, he has often found himself embroiled in a struggle with successive army chiefs from General Aslam Baig to General Musharraf.

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Published in The Express Tribune, June 25th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (29)

  • Umair
    Jun 25, 2013 - 10:17AM

    To General,

    When it comes to war, you may be the best and when it comes to politics you have to bow!

    Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Jun 25, 2013 - 10:47AM

    @Umair:
    if he was best in war, US won’t have ruled pakistan over last 10 years.

    Recommend

  • Umair
    Jun 25, 2013 - 11:15AM

    @Pakistani:
    So I said- may be!

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  • azhar zahoor
    Jun 25, 2013 - 11:30AM

    this is going to be landmark event in the history of Pakistan , the genrals having to go through same (but just) embarrassment as used to political leadership had to go through (unjustly and unconstitutionally), the maturity NS is showing is certainly going to help him becoming the most important politiacal game changer in the history of pakistani politics..Recommend

  • Hafiz Ali
    Jun 25, 2013 - 11:31AM

    PM Nawaz Sharif is just following the Constitution of the Country and living upto the oath he has taken to defend the Constitution.
    Mr Prime Minister the whole Nation is with you

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  • mashwani
    Jun 25, 2013 - 11:36AM

    Musharraf will likely try to drag army into this, and will make it sound as if Army as a whole is being tried. If he has any respect for Army, he should refrain from it.

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  • Snoop Dog
    Jun 25, 2013 - 11:37AM

    Do you think NS is holding on to his bit??

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  • np
    Jun 25, 2013 - 11:41AM

    @Umair: Best in war? He refused to even accept the dead bodies of soldiers that he sent disguised as mujahidin to fight in Kargill. Pakistan had to declare unilateral ceasefire due to his misconceived and misguided war started with India.

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  • Lalai
    Jun 25, 2013 - 11:43AM

    When common man is not spared even for violating the traffic signal, why on earth someone is pared for violating the whole constitution. LAw must takes its true oath ,comes what may.

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  • S. S. Ahmad
    Jun 25, 2013 - 11:52AM

    Determination to establish rule of law with maturity.
    Well Done Mr. Prime Minister!

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  • Jun 25, 2013 - 12:36PM

    It would have been much better if the PM had not made this policy statement during the budget session. Ask a commoner on the street and he would tell you that lowering inflation, lessening direct and indirect taxes, stopping load shedding, maintaining law and order are MORE pressing issues than starting a high treason case against Musharraf.

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  • sgrr
    Jun 25, 2013 - 12:36PM

    Well done Prime Minister, start it from October 1999 or even earlier i.e. 1977 and take into account Article 6 completely, no one should be spared under the High Treason (Punishment) Act 1973. Great decision, now take the great leap forward.

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  • Nadeem Khan
    Jun 25, 2013 - 1:01PM

    Musharraf must be tried for shredding to pieces the Constitution of Pakistan and the fundamental rights of the People of Pakistan on 3rd November. There is no other way if the government wants to plant the seeds of Rule of Law in this country. The law was broken with impunity. Looking forward to this ex-General’s trial, conviction, and punishment.

    Recommend

  • Adnan Siddiqi
    Jun 25, 2013 - 1:26PM

    @Adeel:

    Had you asked a commoner back in 1971 if the dismemberment of Pakistan meant anything to him, he would have said good riddance! Hence MORE PRESSING ISSUES would always be around the corner which would have a bearing on our lives but what should never be forgiven is violation of law and constitution by an usurper.

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  • Rifaqat khan
    Jun 25, 2013 - 1:38PM

    very nice and informative report.

    Recommend

  • mujahid khan
    Jun 25, 2013 - 1:38PM

    Musharaf should be trialed and should be punished if found guilty.

    Recommend

  • Careful reader
    Jun 25, 2013 - 2:01PM

    This is just a face saving exercise for nawa sharif. He cannot touch musharraf.

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  • tahir
    Jun 25, 2013 - 2:46PM

    it is lesson for those who violate every code, law or value to fulfill their wishes and designs. There is always be a red line which must not be breached.Recommend

  • Jun 25, 2013 - 2:52PM

    @Careful reader: NS has already touched Musharraff

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  • sattar rind
    Jun 25, 2013 - 3:51PM

    dangerous game

    Recommend

  • Iram
    Jun 25, 2013 - 4:12PM

    I think people gave him votes for economic reforms and for the improvement of law and order and to resolve power crisis. Please focus on these things first then settle your score.

    Recommend

  • Naseer Ahmad
    Jun 25, 2013 - 6:13PM

    @Sgrr
    What about Nawaz Sharif,s starting his political career as Punjab finance Minister in General Jilani cabinet during General Zia,s Martial Law? Was not that collaboration with the most harsh and brutal military regime an act of of High Treason under Article-6 of the constitution?

    Recommend

  • Adnan Siddiqi
    Jun 25, 2013 - 7:01PM

    @Naseer Ahmad:

    Zia ul Haq is not in the docket but Musharraf is. Furthermore, Musharraf is not being tried for the coup de tat of 1999 but rather the emergency of 2007 for which no form of indemnity has been invoked till date as compared to the act of 1999 which was validated by the assembly of 2002-2007. Similarly, Zia’s coup de tat of 1977 was legitimized by the parliament of 1985 and hence it cannot be prosecuted as such.

    If we are to target mere individuals here and not the big fish, than Mr. Tsunami Khan would also end up being in thick soup because as compared to Nawaz Sharif back in 1977, IK vociferously welcomed the military junta of Musharraf and was the latter’s chief polling agent during the sham referendum of 2002.

    Recommend

  • Muneer
    Jun 25, 2013 - 7:02PM

    @Hafiz Ali:
    If the PM is so keen to defend the constitution,he should initiate treason charges against TTP,insurgents in Balochistan and ‘terrorists’ of Lal Masjid who openly challenges the writ and constitution of Pakistan.But here he wants to talk with them.

    Recommend

  • Muneer
    Jun 25, 2013 - 7:04PM

    Musharraf does not want any safe exit. Nawaz Sharif has himself made the working environments of his government uncertian,unsafe and full of suspicion. And, economic environments of the country unfriendly for foreign investment.Is it his folly or flexing muscle or just a political move to save itself from the SC rulings and confrontation with other institutions?,time will soon indicate. 

    Recommend

  • naeem khan Manhattan,Ks
    Jun 25, 2013 - 10:20PM

    Musharraf should be tried and be provided the best legal facilities to him even foreign attornys, the trial should be transparent and let the whole world see that Pakistan judiciary is also world class judiciary.Those who are adamant that he has done no wrong by abrogating the Constitution of Pakistan then I say to those supporters that they have no respect for their own constitution. I recall when General Zia said about the constitution that it was a piece of paper and he could tear it in thousand pieces which by the way he did.

    Recommend

  • sgrr
    Jun 25, 2013 - 11:29PM

    @Naseer Ahmad:
    People usually start commenting without reading the comments. My dear, if you read my comments I advised NS to start it from 1977 wherein your raised point is already covered. Jaldi ka kaam shaitaan ka

    Recommend

  • Paki abroad
    Jun 26, 2013 - 12:25AM

    Singing Nawaz’s praises, the article ignores the full meaning of Article 6 and the nullification of immunity given to the 1999 act by the SC and the parliament. Nawaz Sharif has learned nothing and will repeat his mistakes of the past. He has kept the law minister’s post to himself so he will be mired in the treason trial instead of solving the mountain of problems left by the PPP gov’t. The real victims once again will be the poor citizens who suffered in the previous 2 Sharif governments as well. You cannot ignore history, we know and remember all too well.

    Recommend

  • Salim
    Jun 26, 2013 - 4:41AM

    Politicians including Nawaz Sharif give a damn to the constitution. It is a show to get PR and media. They would do every thing except putting industry in the country. Constitution is a piece of paper until it provides work and justice to the Pakistanis.

    Recommend

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