A response has been submitted to the special court seized with the high treason case of former president Gen. (retd) Pervez Musharraf by the government rejecting the conditions set by him for his attendance of the high treason trial in which he has been indicted.
The response stated that “An absconder cannot dictate his prerequisites to the court and give conditions, that too his own subjective satisfaction, as to when he will appear and for how long.”
On May 5th, Musharraf filed an application before the special court in which he laid out conditions for his attendance in the high treason trial. He had asked for military protection and the court’s guarantee for safe passage back to Dubai after the trial.
The government has previously been accused by critics of pressuring the courts to prosecute Musharraf.
Through its chief prosecutor in the case, Mohammad Akram Sheikh, the government said: “The application has been filed only to prolong the conclusion of the trial. Similar applications requesting ‘foolproof’ security and citing medical and security reasons have previously be made in the other cases pending against the absconding accused but no other court allowed these requests.”
The government further added that all required security arrangements would be given to the former president as per his entitlement however the measures and extent of the security could not be subject to the whims of the absconding.
The former military ruler was charged with the high treason in December 2013. He was indicted in the case on March 31, 2014. The trial remained suspended after the special court, in November 2014, ordered a reinvestigation into the case to identify any abettors in the imposition of an emergency in November 2007, specifically the role of the then law minister, Zahid Hamid, who is enjoying the same portfolio in the incumbent government, former chief justice of Pakistan Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar and ex-prime minister Shaukat Aziz.
Pundits have started speculating about Nawaz Sharif’s alleged strategy to portray himself as a political martyr to his voters and the international community.
The government has previously been accused by critics of pressuring the courts to prosecute Musharraf. As a result of these allegations, the case has become increasingly politicized. In 2014, Musharraf’s convoy, on its way to court for the hearing on the high treason case, was redirected to the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology after he had complained of chest pain. Following this development, the Chief of Army Staff at the time, Gen. Raheel Sharif was said to mediate with the government which lead to the courts allowing Musharraf to go abroad to seek expert cardiac medical help.
The trial has now been reinitiated but Musharraf’s demands are being perceived as a delaying tactic by the government.
The quandary of this situation finds its basis in the history of civil-military tensions that have plagued all Nawaz governments. Some have now started to suspect that the issue of a civil-military confrontation is being used by Nawaz Sharif as a tactic to fire up his base and attract international support. Pundits have started speculating about Nawaz Sharif’s alleged strategy to portray himself as a political martyr to his voters and the international community. This stems from the fact that whenever there is friction between the military and the government all international media portrays the Pakistan Army as interfering with the democratic process of the country, consequently the international community naturally puts its support behind Nawaz Sharif and the Army’s image suffers.
The Musharraf case is seen by some as a vehicle for this strategy which is currently being used by the Nawaz establishment to consolidate its influence.
Question for discussion: Will Army step in to support Musharraf again?