The nomination papers of former military ruler General (retd) Pervez Musharraf were submitted on Monday for NA-1 (Chitral), NA-188 (Layyah) and NA-247 (Karachi), according to an All Pakistan Muslim League statement.

While it seems absurd that a man accused of treason is being allowed to contest the General Elections, Musharraf has been given the go-ahead by the Supreme Court. A three-member bench, headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, allowed the former president to submit his nomination papers for the upcoming general elections on the condition that he return to complete his hearings. The SC also assured Musharraf that he won’t be arrested in case of his attendance and directed the NADRA to unblock his computerised national identity card (CNIC).

By being allowed to contest the elections, there is every possibility that General Musharraf, once Chief of Army Staff, will soon become a member of the National Assembly, or even the Prime Minister. The idea that a former dictator who abrogated the constitution can now make an oath as a powerful democratic figure promising to uphold the constitution is indeed comical, yet it is the reality we find ourselves in today. After 2008, we brushed our hands off dictatorships and swore to ourselves never to entertain violators of democracy again; yet ten years later, we might ironically find ourselves embracing the same dictators but in a democratic garb.

What we must question is why the crime of abrogating the constitution and eradicating the democratic principles of Pakistan is not being treated more severally by the courts of law. The SC for now has been incredibly lenient with General Musharraf. Musharraf is being accommodated to a large amount by the courts, with him being given assurances that he won’t be arrested nor placed on the Exit Control List (ECL). Such leniency is uncharacteristic given the weight of the charges against the retired General, who is accused of treason and violating the constitution.

The goodwill extended towards Musharraf seems even more suspect when compared to the rigor displayed by the Court in cases of disqualification against politicians. The Musharraf ruling comes in sync with the SC order that the accountability cases against Nawaz Sharif be decided in a month. Such rigidity in Nawaz’s case, contrasted with the accommodation towards Musharraf, creates further unease around Musharraf’s filing for nomination paper, and lends ammunition to those who criticise the court for bias.