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June 28, 2013

Tides of time

June 28, 2013


It is true that General (r) Musharraf is responsible for the illegal dismissal of an elected government; this unconstitutional action was a cruel attack on democracy. Undoubtedly, he is guilty of subverting the constitution of Pakistan and has the unique distinction of being a military dictator who imposed a state of emergency on his own ‘usurper’ regime.
It is a fact that the people of Pakistan were subjected to a roller-coaster ride, with twists and turns that damaged state institutions and the very fabric of our society. Musharraf’s nine-year rule will be remembered as one riven with violence, political murders, missing persons, conflicts with the judiciary, stock-market scandals, a bubble economy and numerous other crimes committed against the people – in collusion with an imported prime minister.
Gen Musharraf must be held accountable for the various atrocities that took place on his watch. Therefore, if he is to be tried under Article 6 of the constitution, the present situation demands that this should be done swiftly and with sincerity of purpose. A precedent needs to be set in order to hinder any future intervention against a democratic order.
At present, there seems to be consensus in parliament on the modus operandi regarding the application of Article 6 on Gen (r) Musharraf. If serious about pursuing this trial, the PML-N needs to move beyond mere lip service and galvanise the required support and initiate proceedings.
Pakistan faces many serious problems today – dehumanising poverty, high inflation and escalating food prices, a decade-long unabated wave of terror, a collapsing economy and the debilitating power crisis. These together continue to heap immeasurable miseries on the people of the country.
Hence, complete and sincere efforts for the resolution of these issues must be a top priority for the government.
The Musharraf episode must not be seen as a case of confusion and misdirected score-settling. Pakistan is on

the precipice and cannot afford experiments in futility or diversionary charades. The government needs to address this issue with the seriousness it deserves. A precedent needs to be established that no one in Pakistan is above the law, regardless of who will be affected as aider and abettor in this instance.
According to Kathryn Sikkink, professor of political science at the University of Minnesota: “Trials of dictators have a symbolic as well as punitive value. It is important to communicate to future oppressors that there are costs associated with committing human rights violations.” It is fair to assume that Pervez Musharraf’s trial for abuse of human rights (besides other allegations) shall speed healing and bring closure to many families, especially so for our Baloch brethren and other marginalised minorities.
However, if the intention is to bide time through talk shows and distract the public, there is a great risk of destabilisation of the system through institutional conflict. Although there are those who feel that this issue should have been placed on the back burner by the government, I feel that taking up this matter earnestly could be the clarion call that the government needs to mobilise public opinion on this subject and settle the matter once and for all.
The implementation of Article 6 on one usurper will send an unequivocal message to all would-be adventurers. Time and tide wait for no one. The government must proceed at the earliest with wisdom and integrity. There is much at stake!
The writer is a PTI leader and a social and political activist. Email: [email protected] com




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