Political leaders were beaten up, Imran Khan was pushed and shoved and his shirt ripped off before he was put in jail. News channels were blacked out in an attempt to ban talk shows, especially those hosted by Talat Hussain and Kashif Abbasi. Clerics opposing the war on terror were detained and there were crackdowns on leftist political workers. They were denied their fundamental right of freedom of speech.

These are some of the positive aspects of Pervez Musharraf’s reign of terror.

But we must remember that the former military dictator did to Pakistan’s constitution what Shahbaz Sharif did to his promises and Imran Khan did to his backbone. And the time has come for him to pay for his crimes. With the noose hanging over him for charges of murder and high treason, he has five options – the same number as the total runs scored by cricket captain Muhammad Hafeez in the last year.

Option 1: Declare another emergency

In order to correct the wrongs he has done after suspending the constitution twice before, analysts say that in the larger interest of the nation, the retired army chief may suspend the constitution once again. “He should then proceed to undo the mistakes he has made in the past,” a strategist said, “Especially the gross mistake of allowing freedom of expression.”  

His opponents especially criticize him for signing a tacit deal with Washington that allowed the US to use unmanned drones to target Al Qaeda and Taliban suspects in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas. “America is not the policemen of the world,” said a leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami. “If they are not policemen, why are they fat and attack innocent people?” asked this scribe. The JI leader threatened to quit the interview. “The deal must be cancelled to protect the lives and fundamental rights of Taliban operatives and the sovereignty of Pakistan, so that they can peacefully orchestrate plans to target the lives and fundamental rights of Pakistanis and the sovereignty of Pakistan.”

Option 2: Pay for his crimes

Justice must be served, many of Pervez Musharraf’s rivals say, and he should be made to pay for his crimes. “Our legal system is clear on this issue. If Shahrukh Jatoi and Raymond Davis had to pay before they were allowed to go scot free, Musharraf should also pay.” Sources say his lawyers are already negotiating compensations with the alleged victims in line with the Diyat law.

Option 3: Apologize

One option the former president’s aides are urging him to consider is to apologize for the wrongs he has committed. “We want him to imagine how he has damaged the basis of this society with all those news channels, caused widespread misery with mobile phone networks, and hurt the image of Pakistan by giving out so many postgraduate scholarships,” a close aide said. “He must feel sorry for what he did.”

Option 4: Get a new profile image

Media analysts say the dictator whose Facebook fans compelled him to return to Pakistan and face treason charges needs a fresh profile image.

“Facebook is like a refrigerator,” a social media expert said. “It has pictures of people you plan to write to but never find the time, it is always on, and you keep opening it every few minutes to see if there’s something interesting in it but there isn’t.”

If Musharraf does not get a fresh Facebook profile image in which he is staring into the sky like he is waiting for a plane to come and rescue him, she said, the Supreme Court may convict him and sentence him to hard labor in Farmville.

Option 5: Run away

“He is a commando,” a fellow soldier remarked when asked what options Musharraf was left with. “In a situation of conflict, when survival is nearly impossible, a commando tries the oldest trick in military history – he runs away.”

If he does decide to run away, strategists say, he will have to choose between three options:

a) The general can go wait it out in Saudi Arabia, after signing a deal and promising not to return and take part in politics for 10 years. “Such promises are not required to be kept,” one expert said, citing incidents from the past.

b) Another security analyst said he could find asylum in a number of countries. “He is most likely to get refuge in a country where public opinion is largely against Pakistan,” he said. “Pervez Musharraf will be welcomed by any people whose interests are in direct conflict with the interests of the state of Pakistan.” Based on these criteria, sources privy to his plans are saying his legal aides are considering applying for an asylum in Pakistan.

c) Even if he leaves Pakistan, the former military may face an extradition if he is convicted in the country. Speaking on the condition that we name him, a lawyer said the former military dictator could evade repatriation if he could move to a territory where the international law does not apply. The restriction limits his choices to Waziristan, which may be unsafe for him, and more likely, the Smurfs Village.

The author has a degree in Poetics of Prophetic Discourse and works as a Senior Paradigm Officer.

harris@nyu.edu

 @cyborgasms