Pakistan's former military dictator Pervez Musharraf (File pic)
Pakistan's former military dictator Pervez Musharraf (File pic)

Pak army to fight against Musharraf's death row through Imran's puppet govt: European think tank

ANI | Updated: Dec 28, 2019 11:33 IST

Amsterdam [Netherlands], Dec 28 (ANI): Pakistan's former military Gen (Rtd.) Pervez Musharraf on Friday submitted a petition in Lahore High Court challenging the death sentence handed to him in a treason case earlier this month.
The verdict pronounced by a special court has been described as unprecedented and historic, by many, as it is the first instance in Pakistan's over seven-decade history that an army chief, whether serving or retired, has been through trial for his misdemeanours.
But the verdict, at the same time, also threatens to disturb the "balance of power" that has been brutally imposed by the military establishment in Pakistan, and can be expected to have telling repercussions on the politico-military landscape of the Islamic country, the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) said in a report.
"The army, which has dominated the political scene in Pakistan throughout its history, is incrementally finding itself in the uncharted territory of its power and influence being challenged by political leaders and the judiciary alike," the report said in the wake of the special court judgment.
Musharraf himself overthrew the elected former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a coup in 1999 and went on to rule the country for the next eight years.
But this time, the think tank said, chances of a coup, an ever-present danger in Pakistan's political scenario figure less in the present plans of the military establishment as it has already armed itself with the "democratically elected puppet government" headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has been giving distinct impression of being more keen to fight the army's judicial and political battles on its behalf rather than the army itself.
On 17 December, a special court, composed of Chief Justice of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) Waqar Ahmed Seth, Nazar Akbar of the Sindh High Court (SHC), and Shahid Karim of the Lahore High Court (LHC), found Musharraf guilty of high treason and subverting the constitution, sacking fifteen Supreme Court judges and fifty-six judges of the provincial High Courts while putting the then Chief Justice of Pakistan under house arrest in 2007.
The 167-page detailed verdict also stated that the body of the "accused," who is currently undergoing treatment in Dubai, would be dragged to and hanged at D-Chowk in Islamabad if he died before the execution of his death sentence.
It is worth noting that the 76-year-old former army chief, who was himself a Mohajir from New Delhi and shifted to Pakistan as a toddler during the partition, was "never going to be protected with the same zeal and vigour" by the military establishment as any other General from Pakistan's dominant Punjab community would have been.
That was the reason, the think tank said, why the military establishment "wasted little time in flexing its muscles after the verdict was delivered." A meeting of the top military leadership was held at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi on the same day.
After the meeting, the spokesman for the Pakistani armed forces averred that the "decision given by special court has been received with a lot of pain and anguish by rank and file of Pakistan Armed Forces... The due legal process seems to have been ignored including the constitution of the special court, denial of the fundamental right of self-defence, undertaking individual specific proceedings and concluding the case in haste."
"Armed Forces of Pakistan expect that justice will be dispensed in line with Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan," added the spokesman without specifying what the consequences would be if this expectation was not met.
But a section of the country political class is already rejoicing the fact that Musharraf's case is certainly going to be contested in the Supreme Court by the establishment through Khan's good offices.
"Nevertheless, the glee is certainly justified as a judicial blow of this magnitude has rarely, if ever, befallen the all-powerful military establishment of Pakistan. The judiciary in Pakistan is set to face the brunt of the combined wrath of the military establishment, which has been known to use threats and intimidation at will, and the state apparatus that PM Imran Khan has at his disposal," the report stressed.
Khan's government has further invoked the context of "national interest" while reacting to the verdict.
Firdaus Ashiq Awan, PM Khan's Special Assistant for Information and Broadcasting, said after the verdict, "Legal experts will analyse the impacts of it legally, politically and in terms of the national interest, and then a government statement will be presented before the media".
In addition to this, Law Minister Farogh Naseem subsequently informed that the government had decided to approach the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) with the demand that Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth, who had authored the detailed verdict in the Musharraf treason case, first be restrained and subsequently removed because of his extreme views on Musharraf's hanging. It can well be expected that other judges who refuse to tow the establishment's line will be similarly persecuted in coming months, the report added.
"The military establishment appears to be at its lowest ebb and is fast losing its image of invincibility, which is a critical element of its dominance. What remains to be seen is whether the army adopts the highly improbable course of flowing with the current and resigning itself to a highly truncated role and place, or it fights back the only way it knows, by bullying the judiciary into submission and trampling upon the politicians," it said. (ANI)