In Islam, the Day of Judgment has also been named as the Day of Reckoning, the Day of Resurrection, the Dooms Day, the Day of Accountability and as the Day of Justice.
And 31st of March was the Judgment Day for the commando, Gen Pervaiz Musharraf, who had been dodging his Day of Judgment, on one pretext or another, in the Special Court for almost three months.
On the last day of March, the former COAS accepted the fact that, either face the music and appear in court or be arrested for violating the Court’s orders. 31st March was also a historic day for Pakistan, as for the first time ever, a former army chief and military dictator stood before a judge and faced charges of violating the Constitution.
So, with hat in hand, he went to the Special Court under tight security and presented himself in front of the three Judges, but without his usual legal counsel, who had decided to boycott the court proceedings, as they did not recognize the court.
The Hon. Judges read out the indictment against the former president, which cited imposition of emergency, the violation of Article 6 of the Constitution, the unconstitutional and unlawful Proclamation of Emergency Order, 2007 which held the Constitution in abeyance and thereby subverted the Constitution and committed the offence of high treason, punishable under section 2 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act.
He was also charged that, on 3rd November, 2007, as Chief of Army Staff, he issued an unconstitutional and unlawful Provisional Constitution Order, which empowered the President to suspended the Fundamental Rights of the citizens, which are enshrined in Articles 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 19 and 25 of the Constitution.
He was also charged for issuing an unconstitutional and unlawful Oath of Office (Judges) Order, 2007 and introduced a Schedule, which required a judge to abide by the provisions of the Proclamation of Emergency and the Provisional Constitutional Order dated 03.11.2007, which also resulted in the removal of numerous judges of the superior courts, including the Honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan.
Addressing the Hon. Judges in his own defense, the former military ruler pleaded not guilty to the charges and stated: ‘I am not a traitor. For me traitors are those who loot public money and empty the treasury,’ in a veiled reference to civilian politicians long accused of feathering their own nests while in power.
‘A traitor sells the secrets of his country, puts the country’s defense at stake and lays down arms before the enemy. I took no such step and I defended the country in three different wars of 1965, 1971 and Kargil. I never took bribes nor did anyone dared to offer bribes to me’.
‘Seventeen billion dollars were left in the national exchequer when I left the government but I don’t know how this amount plunged to three or four billion dollars. During my stint, foreign loans stood at 37 billion dollars but now they have swollen to above 70 billion dollars. The national kitty was plundered badly.’
‘I put the country on the path of progress after 1999 when the country was being called a failed and a defaulted state. Is this the way to reward someone for being loyal to the country and for loving the country?’
‘I gave all to the country and took nothing. I contained inflation. The national economy was fortified. During my tenure the rate of development remained higher in Balochistan than in other provinces. I have been chief of army staff for nine years and I have served this army for 45 years. I have fought two wars and yet I am being called a traitor.’
No doubt, there is some merit in what the former president states and as I have always maintained, he betrayed the nation and the people, by not fulfilling his 7-point agenda and the reforms of cleansing our system of governance, on the basis of which he had dismissed a constitutionally, democratically elected government of Nawaz Sharif.
At the end of the hearing, the Hon. Court granted the former president exemption from appearing in future hearings, saying the accused would have to appear in the court, whenever required.
The decision also said that as long as the accused was not in custody, he could seek medical treatment at any place of his choice, adding that an accused could not be restrained from travelling nor could his/her rights as a human being be curtailed for any reason.
However, the Special Court put the ball in the government's court in relation to the request put forward by the former president, to be allowed to travel abroad. The hearing of the case was been adjourned to April 15th.
The pre-trial circus may be over now, but the trial has opened up a Pandora’s’ Box and there are many hurdles to cross, but nevertheless, an unthinkable process has started and now the immediate question is, what will be its outcome.
Will or won’t the government remove Gen. Musharraf’s name from the ECL list and will or won’t the former COAS be allowed to travel abroad and be foolish enough to return to Pakistan again and stand trial for treason, for as they say, ‘Once bitten, twice shy.’
As such, the government is once again stuck between a rock and a hard place. If it removes Gen Musharraf from the ECL list and allows him to go abroad, it will be opening a door for others who violate the Constitution of Pakistan, to serve their own ‘Self above all’ purpose and get away with it.
And if the SC refuses to give him an exit, then the Special Court will be obliged to proceed with the trial according to law, which could be dragged out for years by skillful lawyers and indict many Untouchables of the country and would open the dreaded Pandora’s Box.
The General, whose symbol of defiance and strength were his clenched fists, is now being forced to appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan, who he had treated with scorn and disrespect and humiliated its Chief Justice, to allow him to go abroad to see his ailing mother.
Up to now, the Supreme Court has remained silent, but there is a general census, that the usual ‘deal’ will be struck and Gen Musharraf will be allowed to go abroad to visit his ailing mother. As they say, what goes around comes around. Such is the cycle of justice.
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org