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Musharraf — in the line of fire?

Gen (rtd) Pervez Musharraf is banking on having the last laugh. After all, it was his direct confrontation with the judiciary just over a decade ago that played a role in toppling his style of moderately enlightened military dictatorship. Yet fast-forward to today and it is the same judiciary that is under immense pressure by the ruling government to prove it is not doing the security establishment’s bidding. For much has been made of how Pakistani courts have, since last summer, gone all out to target an elected Prime Minister over ‘corruption’ — yet have never once put an Army chief on trial for subverting the Constitution. Hence, the former COAS has been recast as the personification of this most important litmus test.
It could go one of two ways.
Thus far the manoeuvrings of the special court set up in the aftermath of the last general elections to hear the treason case against Musharraf appears to have scuppered his plans for that all elusive political comeback. For it has directed the government to ‘go all out’ to bring him physically under its jurisdiction and subject him to overdue process. Even if this means approaching Interpol to do the needful; thereby underscoring how it is unwilling to risk relying on the existing extradition treaty between Pakistan and the UAE. Among other so-called special measures are orders to revoke the one-time military strongman’s CNIC and passport. This is to say nothing of the go-ahead to confiscate all assets. Indeed, Ahsan Iqbal, the man at the Interior, has given the good general one week to return. By all accounts, Musharraf is willing to play ball; the only sticking point being the question of security.
The real issue remains whether or not the former President-General thinks he has a realistic shot at contesting this summer’s elections. Which is another way of asking if he perceives this to be a sham trial or the real deal? Of course, the answer is dependent on the extent to which the military establishment is prepared to go in order to distance itself from accusations of behind-the-scenes meddling. This is a question full of loaded meaning and intent. After all, the latter’s collision course with the ruling civilian set-up was sparked when then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif set out to ‘humiliate’ the man who dethroned him; most likely in direct contravention of the tacit understanding regarding the terms of his return to the country.
Yet all of this hinges on the verdict as well as procedural transparency. Which, in turn, rests on whether or not Gen (rtd) Pervez Musharraf has faith in the ‘system’.



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