The Senate passed a resolution unanimously on Tuesday, which called on the federal government to register a treason case against General (retd) Pervez Musharraf for a long list of crimes, starting with his imposition of military rule. This comes after the Supreme Court has pointed to such a case as the remedy, and also after General Musharraf, who has been abroad since resigning after elections, has given a date for his return. Now that the Senate has passed the resolution with the PPP’s Reza Rabbani as one of the movers, and after PPP and allies both joined in its passage, it makes clear that, either General Musharraf can stay in exile and let his APML (the party he has founded during his exile) remain as disorganised as at present, or come back and face arrest. The resolution itself contained a number of the deleterious effects of his rule, which included twice placing the Constitution in abeyance, trying to remove members of the superior judiciary. It also mentioned the compromises of national security through ‘clandestine deals and unwritten agreements with foreign governments’, clearly a reference to how he had taken Pakistan into the USA’s war on terror even though the people of Pakistan opposed it.

The resolution also mentioned his being responsible for the murders of Benazir Bhutto and Nawab Akbar Bugti. He is an accused in both cases, and faces arrest in them as soon as he returns. These are apart from the case under Article 6 of the Constitution, which still requires the registration of an FIR under the High Treason Act. With reference to Nawab Bugti’s murder, the resolution also mentioned his policies and use of state force in Balochistan that led to the loss of innocent lives and disappearance of citizens. The resolution thus squarely blames him for one of the factors destabilizing the province.

The passage of the resolution should act as a reminder to the government that the nation has far from forgotten the wrongs General Musharraf had done to the country, and it should prepare to prosecute him for his crimes. The resolution is a timely reminder that he has not metamorphosed into the head of a party who wants to contest elections, but remains someone who must first answer the very serious charges against him, including on the capital charges of high treason and murder, before playing any further role in public life. Not only General Musharraf and his party’s members must pay attention to this, but so must the government. It should realize that if it tries to get into any kind of cozy arrangement to allow his return, it will answer for this to the people of Pakistan.