LAHORE - Political parties have expressed two kinds of reactions to the government’s move to try former president-COAS Gen Perfvez Musharraf on treason charge. The ones that were “not” part of the Musharraf-led setup between 2002 and 2007 have supported the decision, although they have too reservations about the timing in view of Rawalpindi situation. The PML-Q which enjoyed power for full five years is, by design, keeping silent. The MQM which was also an ally of Gen Musharraf says the trial will bring no relief to the masses.

“Can the country afford to abide by the consequences of such a trial? If Gen Musharraf has to be tried, other dictators should also be brought to justice, even posthumously”, an MQM leader said while talking to The Nation. The most hypocritical opinion, however, has been expressed by the PPP leadership.

According to media reports, PPP Chairman Bilawal has supported the trial decision, demanding that the former military ruler should also be proceeded against for the October 12, 1999, military takeover.

Another PPP leader Syed Khurshid Shah, who is also opposition leader in the National Assembly, says Article 6 should be applied to Gen Musharraf for overthrowing the PML-N government in 1999. In that case, he said, many people would have to face the music.

The Sindhi leader was also of the view that application of Article 6 just for imposition of emergency would be nothing more than a joke.

 Former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said he supports the government’s decision to try the former president-COAS.

The PPP remained in power for five years between 2008 and 2013. During this period when Zardari was the president and the prime minister’s term was shared by Yousaf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, no such step was even considered. Gen Musharraf was given an honour-guard when he stepped down as a result of the unbearable political pressure. According to several media reports, Mr Zardari as president sought Mian Nawaz Sharif’s support to validate the steps taken by the military ruler. When the PML-N refused to oblige him, Mr Zardari said he has given his word to various people.

During all five years, Zardari followed what he proudly called a policy of national reconciliation. He claimed credit for taking parties of all shades of opinion along. The major parties which remained coalition partners with the PPP were the PML-Q, MQM and ANP. The JUI-F of Maulana Fazlur Rehman also remained with the PPP for three years, although subsequently it  parted ways for political expediencies.

The trial of Gen Musharraf – either for Nov 3, 2007 action or October 12, 1999 takeover – was never discussed. No party ever raised the issue.

If the party honestly believed that Gen Musharraf had violated the Constitution, it was in a position to indict him. But if it kept silent when it was supposed to act, there’s little justification for the PPP leadership now to express its so-called love for constitutional rule. This is nothing but hypocrisy.

Some people think that the PPP prolonged silence on the subject for five years also amounts to violating the Constitution. Both the president and the prime minister in their oaths pledge:  

“That I will preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan:

“That, in all circumstances, I will do right to all manner of people, according to law, without fear or favor, affection or ill-will”.

The PPP is now encouraging the PML-N leadership to go-ahead with the Musharraf trial plan, believing that any negative outcome thereof would weaken its major adversary.

Leaders should stand by principles, not expediencies. As someone said: "I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it's for or against."