LAHORE - Former president and army chief Gen Pervez Musharraf did a great disservice to the judicial system of Pakistan by asking his lawyers to approach the United Nations with a request that the world body intervene in the high treason case the PML-N government is starting against him.

The trial is scheduled to start on Tuesday (December 24) in case some superior court did not stop the proceedings on any pretext. The former president has already challenged the special court’s authority to try him.

Gen Musharraf’s lawyers said at a news conference in London on Friday that the treason charge levied against their client was politically motivated and that he would face a ‘show trial’.

The legal team has written to UN human rights chief Navi Pillay and UN special rapporteurs calling for the international body to “urgently intervene and ensure that the former president is not subjected to politically motivated charges”.

The lawyers also called on the United States, Britain and Saudi Arabia to denounce Musharraf’s trial to ‘repay their debt’ for his support in the US-led ‘war on terror’ in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

The call that the UN intervene means that the former president doesn’t expect an impartial judgment.

True that in the given situation when the Supreme Court held Gen Musharraf responsible for holding the Constitution in abeyance the special court can’t be expected to come up with an order which is not in consonance with the apex court’s views.

In spite of this, there was no justification for the former president to even think of seeking the UN intervention. He should trust the judicial system, which has been in place during his nine-year rule. The courts are as independent or otherwise now as they were then. Use all available legal courses to make it impossible for the special court to give a biased verdict. There was also no reason for the former president to urge the US, UK and Saudi Arabia to denounce the trial and ‘repay the debt’ for his support to the US-led war on terror. He has consistently been saying that he took all decisions regarding the war on terror in the best interest of Pakistan. If he was right in his claims, then what is the ‘debt’ he wants the above-mentioned three countries to repay?

But, unfortunately, Gen Musharraf is not the first leader to seek foreign support to get himself freed.

When an anti-terrorism court had convicted then deposed prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif in April 2000, he had also not accepted the verdict and had, instead, used political sources to get out of jail and out of the country.

London’s Guardian had then quoted Begum Kulsoom Nawaz as saying that her spouse was the victim of a ‘personal vendetta’ by Pakistan’s military leader and accused the judge of delivering a verdict written by someone else.

“My husband is innocent. He has done nothing wrong. This is a politically motivated judgment under pressure. Only my husband was targeted. That is what they wanted. Such a judgment will make the nation hang its head in shame,” she said.

Speaking outside court, Javed Jabbar, Gen Musharraf’s national adviser, had said: “We want Nawaz Sharif to be subjected to the same law he formulated and promulgated”, a reference to the draconian anti-terrorism law the prime minister introduced after his election victory in 1997.

Although the deposed prime minister could challenge the sentence, he did not adopt this course as he did not believe the courts were free after taking oath under the PCO.

He used his links abroad to reach an agreement with Gen Musharraf. He was banished to Saudi Arabia in December 2000.

He was allowed to file an appeal eight years after being convicted, which was an extraordinary concession. The ‘independent’ judiciary restored as a result of a mass movement set aside Mr Sharif’s conviction. And now that he is back to power, he is in a position to settle scores with Gen Musharraf.

This is a matter the new Chief Justice of Pakistan should give a serious thought to. He should take whatever steps are necessary to make court verdicts acceptable to all. The impression that courts serve the interests of only those in power should be erased. Justice should not only be done but should be seen to have been done.

To make sure that the army is fully behind him, the prime minister has just decorated the new Army Chief and the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, who were elevated only three weeks ago.

Apparently, they have not been honoured for any immediate achievement. There are speculations that they have been decorated with the expectation that the two generals would stand by the government when their predecessor Musharraf is taken to task.

Mr Sharif and Gen Musharraf have nothing in common. But out of power, Musharraf is also behaving the way his ‘enemy number one’ did.