Pakistan at the Mercy of Army

Discussion in 'Pakistan' started by AVERAGE INDIAN, Jan 17, 2014.

  1. AVERAGE INDIAN

    AVERAGE INDIAN EXORCIST Senior Member

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    The suspense and high drama informing the former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf’s trial in a special court for treason against the state is worthy of a vintage Hitchcock thriller.

    On January 2, the elusive former military commando—holed up for months in his plush, 25-acre, farmhouse outside Islamabad—was finally scheduled to appear before the court where he was to be indicted for violating the Pakistan Constitution for his personal gain and aggrandizement. He’d been eluding his court appearance for weeks on the excuse that there were threats aplenty against his security.

    So on that day, January 2, the government had made the most elaborate arrangements for his security. 1,600 police and armed security personnel had been deployed to cover almost every inch of the 11km distance between his hideout and the court venue. It was a security dragnet that wouldn’t be deployed for any visiting foreign head of state. The authorities wanted to leave no loophole for Musharraf and his gang of some of Pakistan’s most notorious lawyers to exploit in order to avoid his court appearance.

    Live television coverage was on hand to keep befuddled Pakistanis—intrigued, if not disgusted, with Musharraf’s routine shenanigans and antics to postpone his day with justice—informed that the long-awaited trial of Pakistan’s most notorious law-breaker was about to get under way, at long last.

    But, then, Hitchcockian suspense took over in a trice. Musharraf’s convoy of dozens of cars and security escorts suddenly veered off the charted course and detoured in the direction of Rawalpindi’s Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC).

    The special court of trial in Islamabad was kept in a limbo. Even Musharraf’s defence team of lawyers didn’t have a clue why their client had sought refuge in the AFIC instead of showing up at the court. It was only hours later that the news was broken to the media—and the trial court’s bemused judges—that Musharraf had suddenly felt queasy in his heart as he was being driven to the court and had to be rushed to the high-walled military institution off limits to civilians.

    Everyone in the dumbfounded civilian establishment was at a loss to explain what had led to their quarry moving into the sanctuary of his comrade military establishment. The GHQ kept a studied reign of silence; not a word escaped their lips about the Houdini-like disappearance of their former chief from the clutches of the civil administration.

    It took two days and a specific demand from the three-member special court to the AFIC’s hierarchy for the world to learn that the 70-year-old former commando—who never missed an opportunity to boast of his virility and fit-as-a-fiddle health—had some heart condition. The report came out with a list of nine medical problems afflicting the general, including high calcium deposit in one of his veins. But none of the ailments is of a nature threatening his life, and none so acute that it could not be taken care of in Pakistan.

    It’s hard to believe that Musharraf’s heart problem was on the spur of the moment, or that it hadn’t been meticulously planned in advance like any tactical move by seasoned soldiers. Not even a layman on the Pakistani street—alien to the Byzantine intrigues of the GHQ and its pampered denizens—was prepared to buy the version that the GHQ wasn’t into it and its pompous generals had nothing to do with it. The Pakistani people know their Bonapartes well enough to be taken on a ride by them.

    For days before the dramatic development, Musharraf had been wailing and beating his chest for rope from his GHQ comrades to bail him out of the corner where the law of the land was likely to catch up with him and dispense justice as it should to any Pakistani violator of the law.

    And Musharraf has violated the Pakistan Constitution not once but twice: first in October 1999, when he overthrew Nawaz Sharif’s elected government on the most apocryphal alibi that Nawaz had ordered his aircraft hijacked. The real reason was his insubordination and subversion of Nawaz firing him as military chief for perpetrating the crime of Kargil, earlier that summer. Musharraf repeated his trampling the constitution, in November 2007, when he imposed an “Emergency” on the country because he feared the apex court was about to void his re-election as president while still wearing his military uniform.

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to plumb the GHQ brass’ coup de grace against Pakistan’s justice system. The coup makes perfect sense given the Pakistani generals’ larger-than-life sense of their place and importance in its hierarchy of power. How can a former military chief be tried in a civilian court of law, runs the argument of military aficionados and protégés; that would be disgracing the military and its aura in Pakistan.

    What it boils down is the holy cow syndrome of the military establishment and its civilian cohorts. It’s unlawful in Pakistan to question the privileged place of the army. One can be prosecuted for doing so or suggesting something that may be deemed derogatory to the military’s exalted status in Pakistan.

    It was perfectly alright that a charismatic and iconic Zulfi Bhutto—an elected PM—was tried on trumped up charges—of ordering a rival politician’s murder—and hanged despite a split verdict of the apex court.

    It was also legitimate that another elected PM, Yusuf Raza Gilani, was hounded out of office for insulting the apex court. To the generals and their aficionados those were civilians—bloody civilians, in popular military parlance—and deserved their day in court. But a military chief in the dock, come on you can’t be serious?

    So now that General Musharraf is safe in his military nest, the stage is being set to let the bird fly out of the coop, unharmed. His heart condition may come in handy to whisk him out on a safe passage abroad—Dubai, London, wherever. His ailing, 90-year-old mother in Dubai could be another “genuine” alibi to get him away from the Pakistani law.

    And don’t forget—or minimise the role of—foreign mentors of Pakistani leaders, of any stripes. General Musharraf, in power, was bamboozled by his and Nawaz Sharif’s Saudi mentors to let go of him, back in 2000. Nawaz is even more beholden to his Saudi “brothers” to resist their demand to let the beleaguered general off the hook. The Saudi FM, Prince Saud al Faisal, was in Islamabad last week, as Musharraf fled to his military safe house. Rumours had it that he was there for Musharraf. Never mind the Pakistanis asking the question: What’s supreme in their country, the writ of its law or the will of its generals?

    Karamatullah K Ghori is a former Pakistani diplomat.

    Pakistan at the Mercy of Army - The New Indian Express
     
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