There are two ways of looking at the PML-N’s decision to establish culpability and prosecute General (retd) Pervez Musharraf for treason. One, it is a patently brave act by a prime minister who has not spent a month in office yet and has laid his political capital to this cause, especially, if in doing so, he has an altruistic end to achieve in exercising and displaying civilian supremacy over the military — by bringing to justice a retired “army” chief; and, making an example of Musharraf to deter any future “adventurer” from interfering in the political process and usurping the right to rule Pakistan.
It makes for an even brilliant spectacle when the prime minister chooses to dramatically announce in parliament his intention to follow the route; and when the House lends him the adulatory support in spontaneous outpouring without yet having considered the consequences.
Now, the flip side: the PML-N brings along an unfortunate baggage of institutional confrontation that defined its previous two tenures. But then Musharraf finally got to the PML-N, and in none too savoury a manner. Even more importantly, the nation was subjected to another nine-year military/quasi-military rule. That set us back by nine years. The re-advent of democracy came with its own price tag under an NRO arrangement that made all adjustments under the rubric dubious. The five years of the PPP rule thus remained mired in a see-saw of misperceptions that could only envisage an impending doom. These resulted in another five lost years.
We were hardly done celebrating a successful democratic transition — from one democracy to another, a rarity — that we have had to begin fending for another prospective showdown, or at least live in the constant fear of one. Perceptions and misperceptions could again rule sensibilities, while demons threaten another comeback. To the institutions, it may be business as usual, but spare a thought for this hapless nation that may have breathed for 14 years but never came around to living during this period. “Our democracy”, not of these blighted politicians, is at stake.
It is said that General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is of the right mettle and unlikely to derail democracy. I couldn’t agree more and am aware of how he has paid a significant personal price to ensure democracy has a fair chance. But, can that be said of the entire future leadership of the army? Look back at the General Jehangir Karamat affair in 1998. He, too, was of a different mind and when asked, chose to go quietly. His removal was followed by the institution of General Musharraf as the chief, and what did he promise to his colleagues on taking over: “What happened to General Karamat, will never happen again!” I am being polite, of course. Can you discount such recurrence, diabolic and all? But who paid the ultimate price — we the people and this poor nation. The drumbeaters circumambulated their new poles while yet another set of politicians found their pound of flesh — off this unfortunate nation, of course.
Why else is it a misstep? Because Musharraf is a nobody. The day he shed his uniform, he stopped being a general, officially and formally. Special laws that governed him via the Army Act gave way to the standard provisions of the Pakistan Penal Code like for any other citizen of Pakistan. If he is found guilty of violating the local laws formed in response to the constitutional guidelines, he is to be tried as a common citizen. Forlorn and isolated, centrism offered to him by this 24/7 spotlight may not build him back into his former iconic self, but it is sure likely to give fodder to the cannon in bringing the institutions back into the focus. Many relish such an opportunity, including some in Pakistan. It is this institution-bashing that is likely to give grief to the long-term interests of the people by causing a likely confrontation through institutional dismay and frustration.
Democracy has had to be literally nursed through, in some of the most testing times in the last three years. It wasn’t for a shortage of opportunities to reenact some of the sadder episodes of political adventurism; and, neither was it for the perceived emaciation of the military as an instrument of such previous experiments in our short political history; nor because the army was too tied up in a war on its western borders that it desisted from repeating its assumed responsibility to right the wrongs of our sociopolitical inadequacies through interventions. It simply was borne out of a belief that it just wasn’t right to do so. And great credit must go to the military’s leadership for sticking through some of the most intense ridicule that came its way through this most difficult period. At the end of it all, this nation won.
To fritter it all in the name of bringing to justice someone who is a part of a vicious triangle of vested venom in our past is neither relevant to our current travails nor is it likely to help the cause of our people. We have a democratic government after a democratic transition and that is what matters. We have some immediate issues to grapple with for which solutions are needed. That was the platform on which the victorious parties got their vote and that is what they will be tested against. Of these, the closure to this 12-year-old war on terror is the key to instituting the remaining agenda. That will need all hands. Without the military as an essential partner to this process, we are without those hands. A frayed civil-military relationship can only engender institutional stand-offs, similar to the 2011 stasis.
There is a lot to be learnt from the recent military coup in Egypt. Fragmented societies, unless healed by imaginative and empathic leaderships, will render themselves to repeated confrontations, especially those that reside in the historic experience of that nation. Only an inclusive and a cooperative institutional relationship can give shared stakes, making all stakeholders participants of a common journey.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2013.
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@Son of Army Officer: Support and agree with you 110%
Do you deny that Musharraf came himself seeking Justice ??
All the cases in court are politically motivated and every day a new case is being registered agaianst Musharraf to harass him and emarass the army .But there is a linit and soon the institution will react and the cheap court and cheap justices will succumb to their action along with the so called democracy just like Egypt Insha Alllah
@Gp65: Trust me this " Son of Army Officer " would have changed his tunes thousand times as to his needs ! nothing more. Offer his daddy a BMW ! see how the concept changes ! When people can not acknowledge and face their problems. It turns into another problem with their abilities and perhaps diminished responsibilities too ! They need a Shrink, however even that may solve that problem, as its their basic education system, which has been abused and to the extent that there is a very serious crises as to a whole generation of majority of them who are ill equipped to face the real world ! Their selective history curriculum too is responsible to their abilities and attitudes !
@Gp65: As I said, I am not for mililtary rule, but military rule has always been a result of political govt's failure and support from the opposition. Bhutto was as much to blame for the country's split as anyone else. You are naive if you think Pakistan could have stayed away from the Afghanistan war when all the 911 masterminds and their functionaries were sitting in and ultimately caught from Pakistan. OBL was caught here and some are still in the tribal areas. It is our failure to control the militancy within our borders that have resulted in the unfortunate drone attacks. Have they stopped after Musharraf and since the abandonment of Shamsi base? If they have not then again it is your naiveté to blame it on Musharraf as if he could have just said no to America and they would have listened. Maybe you are too young to remember, but the Balochistan militancy is as old as the country. I lived there in the 70's when my dad's regiment was stationed there to control it (Bhutto was the PM and Bugti was governor) and remember the constant killings. Bugti was a self proclaimed murderer and a militant resposible for killing scores of Pakistani soldiers and officers. Only in Pakistan can one hear sympathizers of anti-state terrorists who call Bugti a shaheed. In other countries people would would call it good riddance.
@Son of Army Officer: His comment was written on July 9 before the July 11 article you refer to. So it is not he who is uninformed as much as ou who are illogical.
@Kamran Shafi: Major - perhaps you have not seen Gen. Aslam Baig's article date Jul 11th or you would not be making such uninformed comments. Fact is, whether you like it or not "Major", there is wide support for General Musharraf in the Army, top to bottom.
@Kamran Shafi: Your comments can only be seen as one of a digruntled lower ranking officer. The military would never have had to take over the running of the country had the political parties done a half decent job. Instead they brought the country to past the brink each time. Only in their time has Pakistan gone on to become a failed state, every time, like now. I am not a supporter of military rule, and certainly believe the islamization during Zia's rule did great harm - but it was the 9 stars political parties that brought him on as well and then went on to collaborate with him. Your pet topic of the Commando (unlike you I use that in reverence) - Musharraf's rule was FAR better for Pakistan than all the political parties doings combined. If you want Pakistan to have seen the last of the military rulers then you should be advising the political parties to rule with honesty, integrity, and vision, and stop supporting military intervention as in the past. The reasons for Egypt's coup are 1)failure of the political system, and 2) support from the opposition for military intervention. There's a lesson for Pakistan in there. Lastly, Musharraf is a brave leader and we admire him for facing the personal vendetta based law suits. He will clear his name.
I wrote a reply to you in response to both your comments. Nothing intimidating, not rude but some facts. It was promptly censored by ET. The bias of some sections of the media is very apparent and deplorable. This comment also might be censored! I'll have to take it up with relevant persons.
Also Ch Sahib, whay are there ONLY retired AMs and AVMs that defend the cause of the 'military'? How many Generals write articles in the press or appear on television? After the sudden disapearance of AM Shahid, there is a brand new one (with elegant, less-black hair I must add) whose name slips my mind. But why only PAF defending the 'honour' of the Army and its disgraced bosses please?
'We were hardly done celebrating a successful democratic transition — from one democracy to another, a rarity — that we have had to begin fending for another prospective showdown, or at least live in the constant fear of one. Perceptions and misperceptions could again rule sensibilities, while demons threaten another comeback'.
Another comeback? The Army brass don't wear brasshats as thick as you fighter pilots think they do, Chaudhry Sahib. As to the Egyptian Army stupidity here's a 100 Rupees bet there will be no such stupidity here. And as to the Commando, I have said often enough he should be indicted for his various crimes and then let go on parole to Dubai to visit his dear Mother. He will run, as he did from court like a coward, never come back, and that will be that!
Perhaps the author is still dwelling in the past century where military coups were quite common in the 3rd world countries. The author (2-star former Air Marshal) needs to read the case studies of former Military Chief General Ilker Basburg of Turkey, who has been sent to jail due to his alleged involvement in a coup against elected Government of Turkey. The author should also read about Sri Lanka's former Army Chief General Sarath Fonseka, who has been sent to jail by the Sri Lankan's President. This is 21st century and Pakistan is no more a banana republic sir!
Because if Musharraf is convicted then many more other responsible persons may/shall be involved in the cases filed against Musharraf who supported Musharraf to take extreme and excessive steps during his regime and the current government can never convict/arrest or summon them in the courts and earlier in case of opening the pandora box and also Ch. Shuja'at Hussain and now Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman have said that in Musharraf's case government has not to take any steps against Musharraf in haste and government has be much more careful because Musharraf has been general,ex-army chief and Pakistan's president as well and has not been a civilian because this may/shall be dangerous for the democracy and democratic government which is growing now in Pakistan on solid grounds....... The government has to pay its attentions on the other severe and the most worst ever issues,for instance,energy crisis,most severe and worst ever load shedding,killings of innocent and sinless people in Karachi and Quetta,internal insecurity,terrorism and bomb blasts,hindrances in the way of economic advancements and for the welfare and betterment of the nation,Pakistan is facing instead of wasting precious time and money on Musharraf's cases......
A. It makes for an even brilliant spectacle when the prime minister chooses to dramatically announce in parliament his intention to follow the route; and when the House lends him the adulatory support in spontaneous outpouring without yet having considered the consequences.
It may be just one person's opinion, but I found Black Clad Commandos scaling the walls of PTV, as if conquering the Presidential Palace of an enemy country, to be a greater spectacle. And the Tanks lining the streets were absolutely breathtaking.
Err... For the sake of curiosity- Where, if not in Parliament, should an elected PM announce A policy? And whose support should he seek, if not of the House?
B. Now, the flip side: the PML-N brings along an unfortunate baggage of institutional confrontation that defined its previous two tenures.
Really? The Elected Head of the Government dismissing a Government Servant would be most humdrum event in the rest of the world. Generals dismissed in the bad bad US of A go home and write memoirs and so do dismissed Generals and Admirals in friendly Turkey. And no one mentions 'institutional confrontation' either. But yes,when those entrusted with the task of defending the Nation and its institutions, start scaling walls and try to frog march a sitting Chief Justice of the Supreme Judiciary, that does constitute 'institutional contempt'. Let us re-prioritize our sympathies.
C. neither was it for the perceived emaciation of the military as an instrument of such previous experiments in our short political history; nor because the army was too tied up in a war on its western borders that it desisted from repeating its assumed responsibility to right the wrongs of our sociopolitical inadequacies through interventions.
Two clarifications here, (i) the Army is not tied up in any war in the West, at least not in NWA which has slipped out of state control , and (ii) can we have one example of the Army having discharged the 'assumed responsibility to right the wrongs of our sociopolitical system'? Far as I can make out the first time it 'assumed' this responsibility, Pakistan was broken in two. The second time around this 'assumption' spawned the gangs of murderous brutes (in the words of Saroop Ijaz) responsible for the massacres of innocent Pakistanis, specially the Hazras. And the third time, it lead to Pakistan becoming the laughing stock of the world via Abbottabad. So good Sir, the Pakistani nation lives in fear of this 'assumed responsibility' and now is the time to confront our fears.
@Malik Tariq: BIG NO (For the question u raised in ur first sentence)
Stuff and nonsense. The military has to be subsurviant to the elected government. There are no ifs and buts about it. Clash of institutions should be very one-sided with the military chief serving at the pleasure of the PM. Those who can't understand this concept deserve what they get. Musharraf should be tried and he should pay for toppling an elected government however animical.
Go ahead ! but why with Musharraf alone?
Definitely those actively involved with the military, be they generals, judges or politicians, must be made accountable. 1977 coup is not so far back and most of the people are still around so this take over must also be taken into account.
Name any ruler who respected the constitution. Bhutto with in hours made 7 ammendments including suspension of fundamental rights.That was democratic because it was not backed up by Apex Court.What strange logic if action of general is endorsed by Apex Court it remains no more offence
Let us concentrate on more important things and save the country from terrorists instead of wasting time on Musharraf bashing
Cannot understand how Kayani has paid a significant personal price by supporting democracy? He did get a three year extension. The price that Kayani paid - is it that there were No further extensions? Or that Kayani did not become the President?
Musharraf shred the Constitution to pieces, and held 180 million citizens of Pakistan hostage by suspending their Fundamental Rights as enshrined in the Constitution. Moreover, he did this with an in-your-face impunity. We already know that Nawaz Sharif is ready to provide him safe exit, the stubborn general is just not willing to take a one-way trip out of the country he betrayed by implementing NRO. So the Air Marshal, instead of persuading us to let Musharraf live a free man in Pakistan (matti pao, muk muka, etc etc), should be persuading his friend who is under house arrest to take the next flight out to the deserts of Arabia. The best a civilian government can do for Musharraf is to look the other way while he flies into exile - and we know NS is ready to do that - but it would be completely untenable for NS to drop all charges AND let the guy continue living in Pakistan as if nothing ever happened.
@Author! Plz do read the feedbacks. (Feed back is the last step that completes the whole process of communication.) :)
Pakistan is, perhaps, one of the few countries in the world where law-breakers are not tried and punished. This is because our feudal lords believe that they are above the law. Their sons routinely break traffic laws on the streets of Karachi, and the police dare not touch them. We have to change the mindsets of such people. Not only Musharraf, every powerful man who breaks the law must be tried and punished. Not trying Musharraf on the grounds that all previous military dictators were not punished means that all future military adventurers and their supporters will also go scot free. We have to begin some time, so why not now? The trials will reveal why he behaved as if the country was his personal fiefdom, why he sacked the judges, whether he is responsible for Akbar Bugti's death, etc. We owe it to our future generations to find out the truth, even if it opens a Pandora's box, as his lawyers have threatened. Let's go ahead and do it!
A well written article, although i dont agree with what the author say and really believe that musharraf should be taken to task. He committed a crime like a number of predecessors and should be punished and a loud and clear message should be given to army. Otherwise we will have a new army chief and it is quite probable that he wouldn't be as sensible as kiyani himself.
The AVM is spot on. Military's influence in Pakistan is similar to Egypt and Turkey. Its only the utopian fool who thinks the General;s will go back to the barracks and Golf. Pakistans politicians may be timid, but they are the biggest crooks in the country. As crony capitalism and feudal lords continue llooting the country, You cannot expect the generals to just sit and watch things go by. Pakistan needs another 50 years to become a full fledged democracy. Till then the Generals are here to stay!
It is disappointing when an important opinion maker such as yourself believes this trial is of no significance to Pakistan or will affect pakistan adversely. Why are pakistanis so hesitant about confronting uncomfortable truths. It will be cathartic for the army and Pakistan.
Supreme Court is going beyond it's limits. Courts decide the matters submitted to them but never order to send a case to them. 1-CJ and PM, both are effectees, who 'll justice. 2- Supreme court supported Perwez when he over threw an elected govt. According to article 6, cooing general and his supporters will be held as treasoners. Does PM has courage to submit the name of CJ as supporter of Parwez? If FIR will be incorrect, how decision will be justified.
It is said that General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is of the right mettle and unlikely to derail democracy. I couldn’t agree more and am aware of how he has paid a significant personal price to ensure democracy has a fair chance. But, can that be said of the entire future leadership of the army?
This statement, specially the last sentence, about the dubious intentions of the 'future leadership of the Army', is the reason, why Musharaff must be tried, convicted and sentenced.
Only then the 'future leadership of the Army' will know that the era of their whims is over. And those who stand by democracy will not have to pay 'a significant personal price'.
Ex Khaki talking about another Ex Khaki ... what will you expect ???
The AVM's recipe for democracy is " Dont mess with the army let them run their parallel govt , no accountability for them with pay and perks provided by the poor public "
There is no need for any citizen to fear his Military. Dictators have grabbed power and had the nation by the throat on multiple occasions because the civilian Government was too scared to bring them to justice. What the great Zia ul Haq did to Pakistan would take generations to erase. Your logic that Institutions should not be tarnished is baseless because nothing could tarnish the Military reputation more than its own actions did. They have not allowed their books to be audited though they have been living luxuriously and playing dangerously on Tax payer funds. The lack of accountability has allowed them to get away with more than murder, so believes the public and HRCP. Musharraf should be prosecuted and tried because the next time a Dictator jumps in as the nations saviour Pakistan may be too weak to survive the trauma.
'Are you saying that the military would choose to not do something that is in national interest just because Musharraf who has stopped being a general and is a nobody – in your own words – is being prosecuted?'
Fantastic, I want to see the author's face when he reads this last para of yours.
I follow your posts and appreciate your well balanced view points.
Convicting murderers, terrorists and thieves too won't help,the cause of a nation!! So, let all of them be free.
Musharraf is a rogue Pakistan army general. There are many more in Pakistan Army, and they need to get a message loud and clear. If they violate constitution they'll pay a huge price.
Army Doesn't like that one bit. Thus this article.
@gp65 Spot on. This column looks like a thinly disguised threat. "dont try my clan, ok?". Lol.
Has Musharraf not violated the Constitution of Pakistan, a sin for which he shows no remorse. Are we a Bananna Republic?, We are in our present predicament because there is no rule of law in this country. For too long this country has been taken on a ride by individuals, be they members of the political elite, or the civil and khaki bureaucracy. Time to either uphold laws or become another Afghanistan and Somalia.
By touching musharaf army will get upset amd they will interfere and save him
Hmm...so sayeth the ex marshall! In one sentence you say , democracy should be nurtured and in the beginning you say 'clash of institutions'. Could you for once clarify how one exit with out the other happening ?
Clash of institutions happen when there is an exaggerated sense of self importance, and funnily in Pakistan , In this clash , Politicians seem to be more timid considering that they have been elected by the people and the others not.
The ex marshall still can't out of 'mentality' and wants all to appease, would he have said the same thing when Musharraf / Zia / Yahya / Ayub were in power ?
@author Someone, military or politicians, has to start prosecutions of corrupts, military or poltical. Army (your highlights make sense), has a huge amount pf dirty laundry from Zia to Musharraf and from Drone attacks to Salim Shehzad. If we could somehow delete these two eras from our history, we would be hundred times better off than if you delete the respective political eras. It has been utterly helpful for US and Co to have army ruling this country whenever they had any misadventure to do here. Since the damage is high, I hope the military understands ( the top brass that is) why no one in common public cares whether musharraf is tried or not. I could write more if I did nt suspect its all a "noora kushti" between these two sides.
The argument is specious and self serving. It comes from a khaki man to save his fellow compatriot. A club in which everyone protects each other - the nation be damned.
Author should really respect Musharraf as senior, instead of criticizing him.
Trying Musharraf is nothing but a trick to divert attention from the common problems. nawaz is an incapable man and the only reason he was chosen because of his slogan "jag Punjabi Jag" i am sure if Musharraf was Punjabi he would have never been treated like that
I still believe we are all Pakistani at least as far as Army is concerned and they will take appropriate action similar to what happened in Egypt sooner or later if this incapable PM continues to work on his revenge based agenda.
I remember ,a few days before he was elected ,he said he will investigate kargil and give India access to the investigation .While I think he will never dare do that but if he does that will be the end of his honeymoon and New Musharraf will be power Insha Allah
This article clearly shows that military people protect each other at the cost of the country, democracy and its people. Mr. Chaudhary has shown his true face through this article, I was always aware that he is a mouth peace of military establishment, he has put the stamp of confirmation on it by this article.
All military men over the past few days have burnt mid-night oil in order to come with excuses for Musharraf & now this man is using scare tactics. Is ure man so important that army will put the life of this country at stake for his release! Stop telling us that self-centered military men will get upset & stop fighting for this country, go play golf, we the civilians will stand strong for this country
Our PM appears to have some sort of child like infatuation with train systems, thus his latest comments of building rail links with China. Then how is it that one who is looking to link countries and cities fails to forge relationships with institutions? Its called 'elective dictatorship'.
A military that has never won a war will never wage one on its own strategic assets. Whether Musharraf is prosecuted or not is quite irrelevant in this context. Since the author of this article is himself a retired military man his view on this matter cannot be free of bias.
If one actually convicts Musharraf, than perhaps one should also consider bringing every leader this Country has ever had on charges relating from looting the nation to blatant war crimes in relation to East Pakistan ! This nation actually has never respected its Constitution much and whoever has taken over has always amended it to their requirements ! Which sadly shows as to its current status and position on World Stage !
Author argues that you shouldn't prosecute Musharraf because the army will be upset and not cooperate on the WOT? Here's a heads up - the expensive million man army either can't or won't confront the terrorist so you might as well prosecute Musharraf.
The writer is simply trying to protect his benefactor and former Boss.