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The tables have turned for Musharraf

April 19, 2013

After nine years of ruling the country, former President Pervez Musharraf has had a tough few weeks since he returned to Pakistan. The welcome he received was lukewarm at best, his nomination papers were rejected from one constituency after another, and after successfully seeking bail in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case, he was unable to do the same in the judges’ detention case.

Soon after the retired general proclaimed loudly that ‘commandos never run’, Musharraf was seen making a quick exit from the court and dashing to his farm house in Chak Shehzad. After much dilly-dallying, the ex-president finally surrended himself to authorities – although it remains unclear whether this was before or after he appeared at the court of a judicial magistrate the next day on Friday.

Then, his home had been declared a ‘sub-jail’ for the next 48 hours after which he is to appear before a special anti-terrorism court on April 21. Until then, according to an All Pakistan Muslim League spokesman (APML is the former president’s political party), he had been sent on judicial remand. But developments were fast; Musharraf was then transferred to the police lines headquarters in Islamabad.

Things have come a long way since the former military chief took power in a military coup in 1999. After having been away from the country since 2008, Musharraf’s return to Pakistan was doubted by many, given the cases pending against him and no amnesty deal to boot. No sooner had the country gotten over this unexpected arrival that a Pandora’s Box of cases against him came to the fore. In addition, APML officials have said that the retired general will surrender himself, if ordered to do so by the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court.

Given this scenario, what do you think the next step should be? Keeping in mind Musharraf’s rocky history with the judiciary, is the swift cancellation of bail motivated by anything other than the law? Was his arrest justified? Would it perhaps have been better to let the people do the talking and leave him in the lurch with a defeat in the elections? Or is the high court’s decision justified in ordering the arrest of a man whom many accuse of having subverted the Constitution?