I do not want to talk about the timing of Pervez Musharraf’s heart problem. Neither do I want to talk about the civil-military imbalance (which has not happened overnight and is also thus not going to be wished away overnight). I unabashedly admit that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s hanging was tantamount to judicial murder and a grave mistake but I do not want to make comparisons. If anything, we should look at it as the reason not to repeat mistakes.

The realities on ground are that there is a very large number of Pakistanis who do not want the ex COAS and President tried for treason. If it does happen it will create further unnecessary fissures. If he must be tried then the rephrasing of the crime attributed to him will be mandatory. The charge of treason which implies – conniving with the enemy to undermine the state – is not going to work.

All of us can well recall October 12, 1999. That was the day General (R) Musharraf was removed from his position of COAS by the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The PM could have constitutionally done so in an upfront manner had he chosen to but for some reason opted, instead, to do it while the COAS was in the air on a plane, coming back from Sri Lanka after an official visit. His selection of the new COAS, the whole sneakiness of the act, his not caring about where the plane landed or for the safety of all the passengers on board are  all very questionable acts. Furthermore, Nawaz Sharif’s own popularity was at an all time low at that point in time and one has recollections of practically everyone, across the board, being quite happy at the sudden turn of events that dropped General Musharraf straight from the air to being in charge of the country. The jokes that circulated then included renaming of PIA to ‘Pervez in the Air’!

Furthermore, the take-over was indemnified by the courts and given full support by the politicians waiting to be inducted into the ruling circles. That was then. There is also the whole saga of the Sharif family being sent into exile under an agreement. A trial on Musharraf cannot be conducted in isolation of all the facts that connect his term in power to the acts of those in power before him, alongside him and after him. He cannot be tried on his own for the November 3 act because he did it as the COAS and that capacity does not give him the authority to act on his own. He was not a King whose bidding was done unquestioned. A truth and reconciliation act would be a better way of dealing with the entire history of civilian and military misgovernance of this country. There are a lot of things that need to be questioned, learnt from, put on record with apologies sought and forgiveness recommended in order to make a fresh start. That the truth be known and recorded is of paramount importance – more than the symbolic trial of an ex army chief.

We have seen so many times over that martial law cannot be an option or that there can be any workable short cut to power, particularly in the modern age.  We dream of and pine for the sort of governance that would benefit and suit the aam admi of this country. Whenever called upon the common man has done his bit in terms of casting his vote or rallying behind national causes or making his shrinking ends meet one way or another – in short, coping with whatever is dished out to him. Nobody but nobody from among the democrats or the military have bothered too much about improving his lot. That is the trial that I would like to see. That of the common man vs the planners and the policy makers of this country. All those responsible for the strategic depth story should be held accountable too. The basic Sufi call which is so beloved in this region is to look inwards and to improve self rather than find faults in what you see around you. Look at where other countries of the region who believed in focusing on self are headed and compare it with our negative spiral.

Despite the many mistakes that Musharraf made and which also caused the dent in his initial popularity I would, if I could help it, like to see him flying out of Pakistan and to be able to have a closure of the subject. He has probably had many days to think over what went wrong and where. I cannot think of a single Pakistani leading politician who has not made mistakes. Let’s close this chapter as there is much else that needs our focus and many huge issues that need to be battled.

Post Script: Two of our glamour girls have been in the news this week. Both for private lives. We now have a completely reformed-with-a-new-look Veena Malik. The bare-all of yesterday keeps her head demurely covered now. The change has come from getting married to a Dubai based Pakistani businessman and a meeting with Maulana Tariq Jameel, in that order. Let’s see how long this new role remains attractive for the irrepressible Veena. The other one is Meera who was visible doing mauj musti in a film, which she says is not her but a look-alike, that found its way to the social media with a guy who has confessed to being her husband!  The video reminded me of that song from the 70’s ‘Girls just wanna have fun”!

The writer is a public relations and event management professional based in Islamabad.


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