Sunday, June 9, 2013
What can Happen to Pervez Musharraf!
By Saeed Qureshi
Musharraf will go to jail, sent to gallows or exiled? It is indeed a million dollar question. There can be varied and multifarious answers and speculations as to the fate of former president of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf.
One thing might be very clear that Nawaz Sharif would prefer to refrain from using his personal intervention or the clout of his government for his arch rival to receive a hair-raising nemesis. He would rather not want Musharraf at all to be severely punished. Mian Sahib may not like to be remembered in history as the executioner of Pervez Musharraf.
Mian Nawaz Sharif’s preference would be to let the courts punish Musharraf if convicted. He may also agree to the exile of the former military head of Pakistan who was catapulted into the orbit of power more due to the fallacious and faulty scheming of Mian Nawaz Sharif to sack Musharraf than any studied or premeditated role from Musharraf. But despite his being unconcerned Mian Sahib is well aware that the judicial cases would not let Musharraf go off the hook.
Former chief executive and the president of Pakistan and now a captive Musharraf is faced with a host of serious charges. These are inter-alia, the detention of dozens of members of superior judiciary and imposition of emergency rule in 2007. For imposition of emergency rule and suspension of the constitution, he faces treason charge under clause 6 of the constitution.
A case is also pending against him for conspiracy to kill former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto as well as the Baluch leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti. Besides he is accused of permitting the siege of Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) and the religious school in Islamabad resulting in scores of deaths.
Mian Nawaz Sharif now the prime minister of Pakistan would come under strong solicitation and burgeoning pressure from the Pakistan-friendly stakeholders to let Musharraf slip out of Pakistan under the pledge of never returning to Pakistan. Amazingly this is what was done by Musharraf in his hay days to Nawaz Sharif. These stakeholders mainly are Saudi Arabia, and the United States. Musharraf has been a handyman of United States till his ouster from power. It would not be possible for the United States to ditch or abandon him in a very difficult situation.
Pakistan’s army might be endeavoring behind the curtains to plead and obtain a lenient treatment for Musharraf from the present government whose leader was deprived of the power and even could have met a fate similar to Bhutto. There were several Arab countries and United States that rescued Mian Sahib from a situation that could become horrifying in due course.
But let us also admit that Pervez Musharraf, nevertheless, showed large-heartedness and a spirit of magnanimity to let the Sharif family go in exile. That self-chosen fate by Nawaz Sharif and his family was accepted by Musharraf who thought it was a good riddance. He was not as vindictive and ferocious as General Ziaul Haq had proven to be against Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
We shall not entangle ourselves in the unnecessary debate that why Musharraf committed an historic blunder by returning to Pakistan. It was like a lamb entering the lions’ den. How could he obviate the stark reality that he had several enemies and perils in Pakistan and that his chances for political campaigning, what to speak of winning some seats or scoring a victory, were as remote as the farthest galaxy in the space?
The incumbent COAS, General Kiani in his meeting with Mian Nawaz Sharif, prior to the oath taking ceremony might have broached the possibility of exile for the besieged Musharraf. But apparently even if Mian Sahib would accept such a plea, Musharraf faces two other formidable odds that could hamper his safe passage out of Pakistan.
One could be the legal proceedings that would forestall any pressure from the government to rule in favor of Musharraf for going in exile. It would be rather a miracle if a chief justice like Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry would give any legal reprieve to Musharraf who in the eyes of law is guilty and criminal unless proven otherwise.
There could be another possibility. Once the incumbent chief justice proceeds on retirement sometime towards the end of the current year, his successor may have lenient view of Musharraf’s cases and accept an appeal or suggestion by the government to let him leave Pakistan. But this is ridiculous, far-fetched and looks as if we are talking like children.
But if Musharraf gets jail sentence, his future would be sealed for ever because such a term would not be confined to a few months or years. It could be a life term. Now the suspension of constitution is punishable as a treasonable act and its punishment could be either life term or gallows. But if former presidents’ legal team some-how manages to establish that it was not a sedition, he could be saved from a horrific penalty.
Now let us suppose that Musharraf comes clean on all issues. He did not per-se commit treason under clause 6. He did not usurp power by scuttling a democratic process and removing a legitimate government. He was neither an accomplice in Benazir’s murder nor did he order to kill Bugti. Then what?
Thereafter he stands three massive and over-bulging threats. One is from the Bugti clan of Baluchistan who are on the hunt for Musharraf’s extermination and for that they have offered a bounty reward as well. So Baluchistan is out for Musharraf. He cannot roam about freely like other bureaucrats and politicians and military top-notches in Islamabad. The overriding reason is that he could be targeted by the cadres of Islamabad Lal Masjid and its affiliated religious institution.'
Musharraf is blamed for the death of a few score students and inmates killed during an army assault on Islamabad’s Lal Mosque and the adjacent religious seminary Jamia Hafsa Madrassa.
But the most serious and egregious threat to his life would be from Taliban who would try to hunt him down and thus take revenge for his permission of drone attacks in tribal belt entailing liquidation of a large number of al-Qaida and Taliban militants.
As such Musharraf is simultaneously one of the luckiest and the unluckiest persons not only in Pakistan but elsewhere in the world. He got the power like a windfall and as a result of most unpredictable chain of favorable developments. But in equal measure he lost that galore, glamour and rather unassailable power and prestige through another quirk of fast gathering adverse circumstances.
What a rise and what a fall! His steep fall from power in August 2008 is more stunning and bewildering than his meteoric rise to become the most powerful person in Pakistan way back in the autumn of 1999.
If Musharraf is punished in any form it would be for the first time in Pakistan that an army general, who though by default, usurped power, would pay for his chauvinism. Would such an eventuality deter army from grabbing power in future? It is again a million dollars question.