The trial of President Musharraf is on and there is much hype in the media that the commando will chicken out with the help of his medical reports instead of fighting a legal battle in the courts. The Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology where he is under treatment has issued a report claiming that he is suffering from at least five diseases, including a blocked artery. All his diseases are easily treatable in the country just like cough and fever. The country has best doctors and the institute is as good as any foreign hospital. His illness should not be allowed to let him escape the clutches of law. The case, according to some, will be a repeat of the famous Hussain Haqqani case. Since the creation of this country, this is the first time a General has been asked to appear before the court for subverting the constitution and locking the judges in their homes. The commando, who has claimed to be the bravest and has shown the determination in the face of the courts and fight like a man, seems to be looking for a chicken exist with the medical report in his hand. This is the fourth time he has failed to appear in court. Mirza Aslam Beg, the former Army chief, has set precedence by appearing in court 117 times for the last 17 years. It would be better for the image of the Army and the country if Musharraf respects the integrity of the court and appears before it. Military officers, especially the Generals, appear to be above the law in this country, resulting in the decay of the judicial system.
The Special Court trying the former president in the high treason case has again exempted him from appearing personally after receiving his medical reports from the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC). Justice demands that the commando be given the treatment which every ordinary accused is given in the country. Blamed for the murder of Baloch leader Akbar Bugti, killing thousands of children in the Red Mosque and selling people to the foreign Governments, Musharraf should be residing in a jail room and not at his five-star farm house in Islamabad. This very treatment spells injustice – the Army should desist from getting its image tarnished by supporting a criminal. The Army, unfortunately, has a history of not holding its men accountable and punishing them for their blunders and crimes. General Tikka and General Yayaha were buried with the green flag in the graves with full military honours. Justice demands that they should have been at least tried in a court and their pensions cut off as a symbolic gesture to show that the Army is a fair and responsible institution. This is the right time for General Sharif to embrace the rule of law by not interfering in Musharraf’s or Kayani’s trial. Time is changing, perhaps, not as fast as the civilians would wish to, but it should be remembered that Pakistan is different from Egypt where the Army got away with its political blunder. The space for blunders in Pakistan is very little which the politicians should also worry about. Special Prosecutor Muhammad Akram Sheikh has asked the court to issue a non-bailable arrest warrant claiming that Musharraf was flouting the orders of the court. Sheikh blamed him for hiding in the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) to escape his appearance before the court.
This trial is a make or break situation for the political transaction in the future. The Government of Nawaz Shrif should stay firm till it concludes, no matter what the court decision is. If Musharraf is not found guilty of the charges, he would be a free man and would have the leverage to go where ever he desires to. This should not be another Raymond Davis case where the Military elite decided to let go a criminal to please the Americans, after the political forces had clearly vowed to bring him to justice. The Government should not worry about the false propaganda which some paid paratroopers are spreading out. The real media, civil society and the masses are behind them in this noble cause.