Both legal but audacious

Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, speaking on the floor of the National Assembly on Monday, scotched the widely prevailing rumour that, under pressure of some influential friends and due to certain internal sensitivities, former military dictator Pervez Musharraf would be provided safe exit out the country through some legal loopholes. In a straightforward statement, Mian Nawaz said that General (r) Musharraf had twice violated the constitution and that fell under the purview of Article 6 of the constitution for committing high treason and the government intended to proceed against him in accordance with law. PM’s words: “He overthrew an elected government in 1999 and put everything into jeopardy. He sacked judges and imprisoned them...He will have to answer for his guilt before the court.” It needs to be called here that the Supreme Court declared Musharraf guilty of treason on July 31, 2009. The Attorney General has already presented the government’s stand before the court, which asked him to clearly state by Thursday how the government intended to proceed with the case. All opposition parties in the NA supported the PM’s move, with Leader of the Opposition Khurshid Shah urging that the photographs of all dictators be taken down from the parliament premises. He did not care to explain why during the past five years of PPP’s rule it did not do so. Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai termed the PM’s announcement the ushering in of a new era. PTI’s Deputy Parliamentary Leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi intervened to say that his party would support every constitutional step the PM took. Musharraf’s attorney Ahmad Raza Kasuri said that his client would be pronounced not guilty under the law and that the case would open the mythical Pandora’s Box, bringing in the case others who aided and abetted the military dictator in subverting the constitution. Famous lawyer and former Law Minister S. M. Zafar endorsing the view that it would open a Pandora’s Box argued that before the passage of 18thAmendment suspension of the constitution did not fall under the mischief of Article 6.
Mian Sahib’s decision is absolutely in order legally and a democratic setup was expected to take it to preserve the dignity of the law. However, it cannot but ruffle the feathers of Musharraf’s powerful backers, both here and abroad, and that might make it harder for the PML-N government to tide over the dreadful economic crisis and handle the terrorist threat Pakistan is faced with. But now that the die has been cast it must be followed to the end.

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