The trial of the former President and Chief of the Army Staff General (retired) Pervez Musharraf is making front-page story these days and keeping news rooms and talk show hosts busy. I read these headlines and watch these shows with an increasing sense of concern. My concern stems from the realization of what we have become. In our bloodthirsty pursuit of the retired General, we have divested ourselves of decency, courtesy and objectivity and adopted sarcasm and derogation as a means of expression. I find the whole thing disturbing starting with the word ‘treason’ in Article 6 of the Constitution. The true gravity of this word and its collateral usage as ‘traitor’ was perhaps lost on those that made the insertion of this clause possible. The crime that Musharraf committed may fall in any category of autocratic misdemeanors, but it does not fall under high treason. I say this because I am very clear about the international interpretation of the word. Musharraf did not pass national secrets to the enemy nor did he commit an act that jeopardized Pakistan’s solidarity and integrity. On the contrary he served his country faithfully as a soldier, during which he repeatedly put his life at stake in the line of duty. I am happy to note that at least one politician has spoken against use of this word in the Constitution and to that end has submitted an amendment in the Senate.

The entire case against Musharraf focusses on a single person, with utter disregard to its fallout. There are no two opinions that the General has led the Pakistan Army – and led it well and courageously in troubled times. Putting such a man on trial for treason and by implication branding him a traitor (for how else should a person accused of treason be referred to) is something that baffles my reasoning.

A media colleague, who is gifted with uncanny powers of analysis and deduction, but refuses to appear on television, shared two pieces of information with yours truly just the other day. He is of the opinion that the fire breathing prosecution in the Musharraf Case has perhaps given a commitment to the Chief Executive that the latter would have the satisfaction of seeing the General ‘dragged through mud’, when he makes his appearance in court. My friend also whispered that contrary to all assessments, Musharraf’s trial had become the proverbial bone stuck in PML-N’s throat and there was increasing desperation to create a face saving back door for a nifty bit of extrication. I gave a silent hearing to both these opinions and reserved any comments for the reason that the head of the prosecution team was a respected member of the legal community with an excellent professional reputation and one did not readily expect such things from him. As for the ‘bone’, only time would tell.

I do not have the General’s medical report in my possession, but I heard a celebrated investigative journalist with access to the document, say that three of Musharraf’s arteries were affected. One of these was completely blocked, while two had varying degrees of blockages. If this was true then what we have is a sick person on our hands, whose condition can be aggravated by stress.

If those with Musharraf on their minds are hell bent on making an example out of him, then let us for the sake of future generations and history, put on trial all those who committed crimes more serious and treasonable in nature than the retired General. Put on trial those who have brought economic ruin to Pakistan and in so doing weakened our ability to defend ourselves or put on trial those that are even now engaged in plotting against what is left of our country.

The writer is a freelance columnist.