Former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf has come out all guns blazing, denying the testimony given by American journalist and lobbyist Mark Siegel in the Benazir Bhutto murder case. Being the primary accused party, his explanations, denunciations and questions against the main prosecution witness were to be expected, and as a consequence mean too little to be given any importance. What matters is the manner in which the former president has spoken out.

Publicly talking about issues that are sub-judice, i.e. under the consideration of the court is an offence the former president should have refrained from. His comments do not follow legal procedure, are not substantiated by proper evidence, yet they will still affect the outcome of the case because the affect public opinion and the opinions of the judges.

For a man that has been ostensibly hospitalised and is “too weak” to attend court proceedings, this furious and forceful denial seems out of character. Instead of hiding behind medical complications and keeping his head down to ride out the storm Pervez Musharraf – perhaps buoyed by a new sense of confidence – has lashed out immediately. Does this reflect on the nature and extent of the worsening civil-military imbalance? After all, it was the military’s insistence that forced the government to dial down the pressure on the Benazir Bhutto trial.

Considering the increasing influx of military power in civilian affairs such a statement won’t be too far from the truth. Since the men in boots stepped in the Benazir Bhutto trial has almost ground to a halt. The other key witnesses have retracted their stories, and it took years to even record the testimony of Mark Siegel. Now Musharraf’s denunciations will make all news bulletins, while the testimony – unsupported by any other evidence – will eventually lose the impact it has.