Article -6 – High Treason
6 – 1: Any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or holds in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance, the constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason.
6 – 2: Any person aiding or abetting or collaborating the acts mentioned in clause (1) shall likewise be guilty of high treason.
6 – 2(A): An act of high treason mentioned in clause (1) or clause (2) shall not be validated by any court including the Supreme Court and a High Court.
As Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) is revered as the architect of the unanimous 1973 constitution, perhaps Mian Nawaz Sharif, will be remembered for the trial initiated on Mar 31, 2014 of the fourth usurper under article -6 of this consensual document. It was an act of political bravery on the part of the ‘Child of the Establishment’ who was conceived and nourished in their nursery. The question is what prompted Mian Sahib to initiate such a move which has blocked all future military adventurism. But then the attempt falls short on many counts. Why only the President?
How about the abettors and collaborators who completed the paperwork for the Prime Minister (PM) on whose advice the President is then required to act. If they were not part of the move there should have been dissenting notes or even resignations. By invoking this article that covers high treason selectively is a great disservice to the nation.
ZAB believed that this article would put an end to Khaki takeovers. He was so confident that he called for elections ahead of schedule hoping for an absolute majority. Little did he know that a trap had been laid for him. The day he dissolved the truly elected assemblies a unified opposition of nine parties was announced. Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) had one point agenda, to get rid of ZAB the first elected PM of the country. Zia’s takeover of July 05, 1977 that followed has been disastrous for the country. As a nation we have lost four decades (1977 – 2017) while the world has progressed and moved on. Zia and his cronies like Lt. Gen. F.A. Chishti, Gen. K.M. Arif should also be tried under article-6 of the constitution for causing irreparable damage to the nation and its institutional framework.
General Atiq-ur-Rehman, also called ‘Turk’ has narrated the contents of his parting meeting with General Douglas Gracey the last British Commander in Chief. “You will destroy all institutions that we are leaving behind including the army”. Turk replied, “why this army has one of the finest officers you can find”. ‘It will be because of nepotism, favouritism and personal interests’, Gracey replied. This is exactly what has happened in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Rules, regulations, laws, accountability are all applied selectively.
Selectively is an unpardonable crime. Nothing will come out of the trial of the commando General who is on the run unless the entire team is tried with him. It seems Mian Sahib is working on a personal vendetta against Musharraf while the crimes against the state of others go unpunished. The Ministry of Law and Parliamentary Affairs in responsible for preparing the notification which is then reviewed by the PM and sent to the President who then acts on it. The November 03, 2007 emergency was declared to prolong the rule of the usurper. It was in total violation of article-6 hence there should be appropriate legal action against the conspirators.
At the time when Zia violated the same article in 1977 the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) was Yakub Ali who did not contest his removal from office but came up with an interesting approach; “When the usurper is unarmed he should be tried under the law”.
All usurpers and their cronies are unarmed today, they should have to face the law as pointed by the Ex-CJP. Pervez Musharraf has shown his willingness to face the trial provided it is free and fair. Mian Sahib is also right that the case is bound to reach its logical end. Constitution and rule of law must prevail now that the judiciary is free it must play its role in punishing the usurpers, subvertors, abettors and collaborators as laid down in the article that covers high treason which is a crime against the state that carries maximum penalty. Settling personal scores will get us nowhere, the ambit of law should be applied in totality to clean the dirty stables of democracy on one hand and keep the usurpers away forever on the other. After wandering in the political wilderness for forty years (1977 – 2017) Pakistan is finally moving in the direction of constitutionalism which is a good omen for the democratic order.
The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation.