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Musharraf’s latest coup

Updated Mar 19, 2016 10:48am

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It has proved, in the end, to be a damp squib. What once began as a historic treason trial, either radically altering the civil-military imbalance or shaking the foundations of democracy in the country, is now all but over in name.

A sheepish Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan told the media last night that his government will allow retired Gen Pervez Musharraf to travel abroad on the latter’s firm assurance that he will return to Pakistan after several weeks. Not even the interior minister could pretend that Mr Musharraf’s return is likely.

Instead, Mr Khan tried to explain why his government’s hands were tied. Never mind that the Supreme Court itself had made clear that both the federal government and the special tribunal were well within their rights to prohibit Mr Musharraf from travelling abroad.

The government had tried to pass the buck to the Supreme Court and when the Supreme Court returned it firmly, the PML-N apparently had nothing left to offer. Surrender has come rather meekly.

There remains the possibility that Mr Musharraf may in fact return to Pakistan. But even if he does, the government has surely already signalled the end of its prosecution of the former dictator.

If the fate of Mr Musharraf seems relatively clear now, there are two other questions that remain to be answered. First, what was Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif thinking when he decided to pursue Mr Musharraf for treason?

From the very outset, there appeared to be no real strategy. In choosing to go after Mr Musharraf for the November 2007 emergency and not the 1999 coup, perhaps the prime minister was trying to make the overtly personal seem less so. In addition, there may have been legal advice that the original coup of Mr Musharraf was later sanctified by parliament and therefore more difficult to prosecute.

Yet, none of that could resolve the obvious political contradiction: if the first coup was not worthy of prosecution, then what did a short-lived imposition of emergency matter, especially if it led to the eventual ouster of Mr Musharraf and the reinstatement of Iftikhar Chaudhry?

Pakistan needs a reckoning with its military past. But justice must be done transparently, rationally and for the greater good. Prime Minister Sharif’s prosecution of Mr Musharraf always seemed more in line with persecution.

Second, what now of the civil-military imbalance? Increasingly, it appears that the prime minister has accepted the de facto normalisation of military control as the price for democratic continuity.

Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2016


Comments (52) Closed



Rohit Mar 18, 2016 01:39am

there really was no other option for the Govt.....however this incident does prove that democracy is still nascent and in need of nurturing in Pakistan

Shahid Mar 18, 2016 03:16am

Bare truth is whenever politicians are in trouble, they seek refuge in Constitution . But when there is as naked a violation of the same Constitution as this case, nobody ssems to have the guts to protect the same Constitution. How odd that the protector itself is without any protection. Can nations make real progress in such state of helplessness?

lalai Mar 18, 2016 07:27am

Law and its implementation is supposed to trap the weak only. Powerful can simply break the net and fly away.

cheebz Mar 18, 2016 07:42am

the people in the government are even bigger criminals than Mushy.. the amount of corruption occurred by current and previous goverment, also in their previous terms; they loose all moral authority to try anyone for treason..

Jalaluddin S. Hussain Mar 18, 2016 07:49am

It is a positive step and indicates that Pakistan has chose the path of democracy in a guarded way. It is mature politics of Nawaz Sharif to let Musharraf go and get the medical treatment which he well deserves.

Let Musharraf c of treason charges clear his name after the necessary medical treatment.

Long live democracy in Pakistan! Pakistan seems to have done much better than many "dictatorship-ridden" countries.

M. Emad Mar 18, 2016 07:52am

The sword is mightier than the pen !

Ravian Mar 18, 2016 07:58am

So the next adventurer should fairly secure he would not face any consequences. His accomplices should also feel safe. A historic opportunity to enact rule of law has been lost.

Putho Mamon Mar 18, 2016 07:59am

A weak civil government.

Nasir Mar 18, 2016 08:21am

Musharraf is a brave, honest and intelligent leader. The best we ever have in this country, people like him are not scare of anyone but God! Wish him good health.

Sharif Mar 18, 2016 08:41am

Please mind it that Musharraf was far more democratic, honest and patriotic than the so called current democratic political leadership.

Law of Cause and Effect Mar 18, 2016 08:43am

Very timid behaviour of Mr Musharaf, a one time strong man of Pakistan!

The Kraken Mar 18, 2016 08:50am

The former president General Pervaiz Musharraf was the best thing that ever could happen to Pakistan. He's been a fabulous statesman and a tremendous ambassador of the country to the outside world. I sincerely hope that General sahib returns to Pakistan all hale and hearty but perhaps the hopes of him ever gaining some political relevance in the future are all but over. However, I presume it's time for us to rid ourselves of the spectre of personality cult that we Pakistanis have been so obsessed with ever since independence. Strengthened institutions are the key to our prosperity. Keeping fingers crossed!

Sridhar Raghunatha Rao Mar 18, 2016 09:42am

Musharraf is surely an intelligent and shrewd person. I personally have my own admiration for him and his strategies.

Shemub Mar 18, 2016 10:12am

At least Mushy had the guts to return to Pakistan voluntarily and face the court..who else from the so called democratic champions have exhibited such "voluntary" courage

Terry K Mar 18, 2016 10:17am

"Lido missed the boat that day He left the shack But that was all he missed And he ain't comin back."

Imran ali Mar 18, 2016 10:27am

Helpers and abettors under article 6 are exempted...unfair trail

Zed Emm Mar 18, 2016 10:40am

Sad democracy! There is no democracy. Bodes well for next 'mush'!!!!

Safwan Mar 18, 2016 11:12am

what treason? seriously? Musharraf was and is one of the most patriotic, a lot better then political jokers we have. good decision by SC and Government.

Mustafa R. Mar 18, 2016 11:14am

Civil-Military balance is a euphemism for America-Military balance. Military's hand has been strengthened by West's misfortunes in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey.

Jayakumar Mar 18, 2016 11:37am

I think Musharraf was more of a democrat than a dictator,if not his method of coming to power.If not the Kargil incident..but at the same time he is the one who was close to resloving the Kashmir issue. He is probably better than most politicians whether Pakistani or Indian.

SGH Mar 18, 2016 11:37am
  • I respect the thoughts expressed in the Editorial. The title of the Editorial is, however, unfair to the person of the former President of Pakistan.
  • What the Editorial describes as "Civil- Military- Imbalance" is regarded by many people as a necessary balance to maintain peace in present circumstances.
SGH Mar 18, 2016 11:44am

@Sharif . I agree with you completely. With the passage of time I see that all decisions, taken by Gen. Musharraf as former President, were in interest of Pakistan.

Moeen Balouch Mar 18, 2016 12:01pm

The Criminal Politicians talks about Musharaf,s Crime ! Strange

Sh Mar 18, 2016 12:25pm

@Shemub Oh really. Did he FACE the courts?

imtiaz ahmad lone Mar 18, 2016 01:09pm

might is right that is the only law precede in pakistan

ak Mar 18, 2016 01:30pm

Its about time. I dont get why he was remanded in the first place. Anyhow, He was righteous and now its proven.

ak Mar 18, 2016 01:31pm

@Jalaluddin S. Hussain Agree a 100 percent.

imtiaz ahmad lone Mar 18, 2016 01:39pm

@ak how you know he was was righteous

Mahmood Mar 18, 2016 01:41pm

It is safe to say that we won't be seeing Musharraf back in Pakistan any time some. Or at least, until the frivolous cases pending against him are dismissed.

M. Malik Mar 18, 2016 01:51pm

He came. He saw. And he left!

Won't be back for a while.

NHA Mar 18, 2016 02:43pm

This is a correct decision under the circumstances. Pakistan better focuses on development and stabilization. Action against terror and extremism, energy production, and economic recovery are major challenges waiting to be faced with resolution and urgency.

Abdulla Hussain Mar 18, 2016 02:49pm

Musharraf neither deserve nor would be given punishment in Pakistan. He was the president of Pakistan at the time of whatever happened in his era, several dozens of senior government officers were actively involved in the process that is considered alien, how can he then alone be held responsible.

munawar Mar 18, 2016 03:05pm

best leader ever

Maher USA Mar 18, 2016 03:53pm

Military & civilian is one issue & ethnic origin was another! As for Sharifs, I think they are OK , they are having a ball!

Kryptonite Mar 18, 2016 03:58pm

The last para : "What now of the civil-military imbalance? Increasingly, it appears that the prime minister has accepted the de facto normalisation of military control as the price for democratic continuity"

Spot on !

Mehboob Ali Lalani Mar 18, 2016 04:00pm

This case has nothing to do with democracy.

Democracy means to serve the people with time and money. It is not meant to get development funds and provide misgovernance.

Survival of democracy is conditioned to serve the people and provide them decent living.

I. Khan (Can) Mar 18, 2016 05:59pm

Justice in Pakistan still appears to be discriminatory, putting only Pervez Musharaf on trial on treason charges was not fair. We forget every one else including the Chief Justice then Iftikhar Choudhry who tried to give the coup a legal status and helped Musharaf.

Law of Cause and Effect Mar 18, 2016 06:42pm

This corner is Nawaaz Sharif and on the other corner is one tie srong man of Pakistan Musharaf.

And the winner is Nawaz Sharif with a unanimous decision!

Law of Cause and Effect Mar 18, 2016 08:01pm

@Jalaluddin S. Hussain I disagree, Musharaf must be impeached....why not?

Otherwise we keep going in circles.....even democratic rulers if they exercise extreme negligence also must be tried and impeached.

Law of Cause and Effect Mar 18, 2016 08:04pm

Lost respect for this man....

PakiForum Mar 18, 2016 08:35pm

Good Luck Mr. Musharraf. No one can touch the generals till we totally revamp our judiciary system which will also take into account and punish the people in government for their wrong doings.

Mustafa R. Mar 18, 2016 08:55pm

@Jalaluddin S. Hussain;

' It is mature politics of Nawaz Sharif to let Musharraf go'

I think the credit belongs to the other Sharif, or may be his boots.

Mehboob Chabriwala Mar 18, 2016 09:27pm

Musharraf will come back before the 2017 elections and be our next primeminister a better alternative for Pakistan

ZAHIID S ALI Mar 18, 2016 09:43pm

Let us see which way the winds of time blow for Mr. Musharraf. To the best of my knowledge he is, was the best thing to have happened to Pakistan. I am sure he will be back, and i look forward to see him fight the coming elections. All the best and good recovery.

Gul Mar 18, 2016 10:01pm

The politics of personality dominates in Pakistan, I wish we had politics of principles. That will never happen as long as we don't have rule of law governing our society, something I think will limit political figures to navigate cautiously and not venture into something.

M Khan Mar 18, 2016 11:25pm

The Editor's Title saying 'Musharafs Latest Coup' seems a sensational title only. There was never a good solid analysis found in this editorial note. Disappointed.

NS Canada Mar 19, 2016 08:45am

Why Musharraf remains so popular after all these years? While no other leader in current history of Pakistan is loved so much. People still want him to come back to come back to power. Other leaders probably should learn something from him.

BJP Shah Mar 19, 2016 09:19am

@Law of Cause and Effect ... Impeaching Musharraf would have have opened sort of Pandora's box for not only Nawaz Sharif and his cronies but Zardari, and practically every one else. Lal Masjid and Bugti's elimination should be considered as his love for the country. No one else has guts like him and the instabilty in the country after him can be seen every where from Khyber to Sindh.

Rao Abid Mar 19, 2016 09:35am

How corruption kings can go after Musharaf?They r just busy in big useless mega projects to plunder whole budget of Punjab ljke PPP doing in Sindh. God save us from these brothers....

Osman Khan Mar 19, 2016 10:01am

It doesnt look that we ever going to see an end to any of the raised issues. They eat up our time, provide TRP's to media, situational popularity to parties and in the end all die with some excuses in our hands. At times way forward actually looks backwards

Tarique Siraj Mar 20, 2016 02:10am

Well, both sides have shown what they truly are, Musharaf (the Commando?) in facing the heat; the PML (N), that they don't have the staying power.

And yes, PPP angry?? The Bhuttos are gone-Period.

Aamir Mar 20, 2016 07:41pm

I don't like to call him a dictator. He was anything but a dictator. He kept a fair amount of control on these politicians and that is what Pakistan needs at this point ... until we are a mature nation. He was and is the most honest and genuine leader Pakistan has ever seen. The word "treason" is a joke when one tries to apply it on Musharraf. He has given his blood and sweat to this nation. We don't deserve a great leader like him. Shame on us all who have lost him and the emerging national credibility we had during his era.