LAHORE - The high treason trial of former president-COAS Gen Pervez Musharraf and the talks between the government and the Taliban committees are the most important subjects of discussion at all forums these days.

The outcome of both is being keenly awaited as both have the potential to affect the future situation in the country.

The ex-president has been taking ‘refuge’ at the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology for the last 41 days for God knows why. On the one hand his condition is so ‘serious’ that he cannot appear before the special court, which is only at a 15-minute drive. But at the same time, he is ‘healthy’ enough that he wants the court to allow him to travel abroad for treatment.

While reluctance to appear before the court and pulverise the charge against him has exposed the courageousness of the man who was all-powerful during his nine-year rule, the records of nepotism and favouritism being set by present rulers have exposed their ‘constitutionalism’. Plague on both the houses.

Gen Musharraf’s present attitude is incompatible with his previous assertions. He repeatedly claimed that he came back to Pakistan, saying goodbye to the comfortable life he was leading abroad, to face all cases against him, which in his words are politically-motivated. At times he also said that he wanted to provide the country with an alternative leadership as both the PML-N and the PPP leaders had failed to deliver.

But his long stay at the AFIC, especially when he is not being treated for his serious heart ailment, is totally disappointing. Had he been a brave leader, he should have appeared before the court even if he was facing some health problem. He should have told the three-member bench why the decision to impose the state of emergency in November 2007 was unavoidable and which leader had played what role in convincing him to do what he did that day.

The very fact that no political leader holding important position in the government had resigned after the imposition of emergency was a strong argument to establish that those mentioned in the proclamation as consultees were fully on board. (The same can’t be said of military leadership as they have a different kind of discipline and are supposed to follow the orders coming from the boss even if they don’t agree with them).

Maybe the trial court ultimately convicts him. But then what? Has not every human being to taste death? If so, why to fear?

Saddam Hussein would probably be remembered as the bravest leader in the Islamic world of the recent past. He was taken to the gallows on orders from a puppet Iraqi court. Before pulling the lever the executioner tried to put a black hood on his face, which was part of the process. The Iraqi leader removed the same from his face and threw it away with fullest contempt. He laid his life, but put up a brave face to the last. The western and other leaders who wanted Saddam hanged at all costs saw this brave scene in disbelief, through videos. Saddam is gone, but posterity will remember him as a man of steel nerves.

Can Gen Musharraf be compared with the late Iraqi leader? Not at all.

Now let’s see the ‘constitutionalism’ of the Sharifs who have put Musharraf on trial for the sake of ‘supremacy of the Constitution’. The Sharifs are running the parliamentary system like a monarchy. Key positions have been given – or are being given – to their relatives and friends. It appears as the entire wisdom is possessed only by these people. Is the country being governed according to the Constitution?

Then, the ruling family is also involved in a variety of businesses. And superfluous to point out that the Sharifs will take only such policy decisions as could benefit and promote their businesses. Is it thinkable in a genuine democracy? Can Chaudhry ‘Server’, the Punjab governor, think of such a system working in Britain, from where he has been imported to lead the country’s biggest province? Is it morally fair for the rulers to monolopise various businesses and still talk of democracy or Islamic system?

Those who want to get Musharraf convicted for high treason should also bring the relevant PPP leaders to justice who had turned a blind eye to this serious constitutional matter during their five-year rule. Should not the Article 6 be applied to PPP leaders as well?

(PTI Chairman Imran Khan says the PML-N leaders should also be subjected to Article 6 for rigging the general elections).

The treason trial is being prolonged by the defence lawyers. Despite weeks of arguments, questions about the competence and jurisdiction of the court to try Musharraf have not been decided.

The trial court will be doing a great favour to the nation by deciding the treason case in the shortest possible time. Under Section 9 of the Criminal Law Amendment (Special Court) Act 1976, “No trial before the special court shall be adjourned for any purpose unless the special court is of opinion that the adjournment is necessary in the interests of justice and, in particular, no trial shall be adjourned by reason of the absence of any accused person due to illness, or if the absence of the accused or his counsel has been brought about by the accused person himself, or if the behaviour of the accused person prior to such absence has been, in the opinion of the special court, such as to impede the course of justice but, in any such case, the special court shall proceed with the trial after taking necessary steps to appoint an advocate to defend any such accused person”.

This provision leaves no room for the court to adjourn the case any time the defence makes such a request.