United against Musharraf

He made mistakes. But those gunning for him today are no friends of Pakistan, or the world

Ex-army chief of Pakistan General (retd) Pervez Musharraf has returned to Pakistan from his exile, which everyone thought was permanent, and is facing a predictable trial for high treason punishable by maximum death and minimum life imprisonment. Pakistan is notorious for gumming up accountability, but simply can't resist it, like a heroin-addict. He dismissed the government of Nawaz Sharif's Muslim League in 1999, which is now back in power. He dismissed the Supreme Court in 2007, which is now in its activist overdrive. Why shouldn't the two get together and hang him?

Musharraf is no saint, but the forces arrayed against him are more sinister. If Pakistan was collectively sane, it would realise what is about to happen. There is a consensus of the diabolical against him and no one minds being a part of it. Revenge, not justice, is expected from the Supreme Court, where a rough-riding chief justice is backed by a submissive bench looking fearfully over their shoulders at the surging phalanx of rightwing religious-oriented lawyers who will hit the street at his bidding and beat up anyone in sight.

Revenge, not justice, is pursued by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose government alone can bring to court the case of treason under Article 6 of the constitution. So bad were his party PML and rival PPP at kicking butt in revenge sequentially that they issued a Charter of Democracy in 2006 saying goodbye to self-demeaning vendettas that marked the "accountability" decade of the 1990s till the army, always dominant behind the scenes, overthrew the Sharif government in 1999.

There are others gunning for Musharraf, none of them friends of Pakistan, or the world. Al-Qaeda wants him disembowelled because he arrested hundreds of its terrorists in Pakistan after 9/11 and handed over 276 of them to America to populate its Guantanamo Bay camps. (Almost all of them,when let off, rejoined the holy war and killed more Pakistanis.) Al-Qaeda's followers in the tribal areas accepted Osama bin Laden as their sheikh (religious leader) and announced themselves enemies of Musharraf. Their minions, the Punjabi Taliban, followed suit, and thereby hangs a tale.

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