It’s ironic that entire lists can be filled with the crimes that were committed by Musharraf, yet the case for which he is being tried is one the few things that he is not directly responsible for while in power. The fact that he conspired against and overthrew a democratic government, is suspected of ordering the execution of Bugti and being negligent to the potential threats against a former Prime Minister that ultimately led to her assassination,  are all charges against him that the law needs to investigate. Instead, yet again, the energy is focused on a case that the ex-President admittedly could have handled better, but is not directly to blame for.

The Lal Masjid incident was one in which a group of people attempted to usurp the authority of the state, wielding religion as a weapon. Disagreeing with the charges is not to show support the military chief, but to hounour the fallen soldiers who gave their lives and fought to recover the writ of the state from assault by religious vigilantes. The situation admittedly, was badly handled, but at the same time it can be argued, was unavoidable, given the fact that the inhabitants of the mosque were leaving no room for any alternatives.  Repeated attempts at negotiating a compromise had failed, and instead were delaying an end to this embarrassing episode, where baton-wielding men decided to take the law in to their own hands and deliver their morphed version of justice to anybody they considered a wrongdoer.

The operation was carried out later than it should have been, and as a consequence, caused greater damage than it would have. But it is important to realize that carrying out this action was a dire necessity given the fact that the capital was made a shocking spectacle of the breakdown of order to the world at large. The group went to nearby markets and forced businessmen to close video and CD shops at will, deeming them contrary to Islamic teachings. Women were harassed for leaving their homes and not covering their faces. Countless mosques operate peacefully and stick to their role of being areas of prayer and religious study for believers. Yet Lal Masjid and its organizers sought to establish themselves as the exception to the rule and their success would have started a tradition of anarchy that would have been impossible to control. General Musharraf should have been tried for taking power, and ruling as a dictator in betrayal of his oath to the army. That was his real crime, and it is important that charges he is arrested under demonstrate it.