The premier speaks out, finally!


Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif surely touched the hearts of millions by making clear his intention to try former president Pervez Musharraf under article 6 of the constitution, relating to treason. However, what is not clear is how far the premier is ready to go and whether he is going to fight till the finish line or make it into another Asghar Khan case.
Sharif, in a much awaited statement on Monday announced on the floor of the National Assembly (NA) that Musharraf would be tried under article 6. “He committed high treason by abrogating the constitution and will be tried under the law of the land,” the premier added.
In a related development Attorney General Muneer Malik also submitted government’s response before the apex court on various petition filed against Musharraf invoking article 6. The court had earlier asked the government to clear its position vis-à-vis these petitions. Malik said the government would implement court orders and fulfill all requirements in this regard.
Sharif’s intentions have been welcomed by political leaders across the board. The opposition leader promised to back government actions in this respect.
What moves the government makes in coming days in connection with Musharraf’s trial will shed light on how far the government is ready to go after the former military ruler.
The government, in coming days, will file a complaint through its prosecutor general with the interior secretary as the main complainant. The contents of the complaint will underline the future of the trial. The most important issue, according to legal experts, will be whether the government is ready to meet all requirements of the High Treason Act 1973. According to this law, persons involved in high treason cannot be tried alone. All abettors will receive the same punishment as that of the principal accused per the said law.
These experts say this could be problematic for the government and the judiciary. They say the whole of army’s high command was involved in toppling the government of Nawaz Sharif, even if we exclude political leaders who supported Musharraf’s unconstitutional seizure of power for the time being.
Similarly, in 2007 when Musharraf enforced emergency, his decision included supportive summaries from the then prime minister and law minister.
Experts said Musharraf and his lawyers will try to make the same argument during the course of trial. That Musharraf cannot be tried alone and all his abettors should be tried as well will be their key plank, they say.
As such, the case has the potential of opening yet another Pandora’s Box with all its repercussions for the country’s politics.
But the judges are hell-bent on pursuing the case and punishing Musharraf. The government needs to match this seriousness to take the case to its logical conclusion, an expert commented.
A senior Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader said similar issues forestalled implementation of the Asghar Khan verdict. The military’s top brass had conveyed to the PPP government that they would not mind pinning down Generals Aslam Beg and Asad Durrani, provided the government took similar action against those who accepted bribes. It was probably difficult for the government to proceed against everybody and so the case was hushed up.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) circles however, say their government is committed to holding Musharraf fully accountable no matter what it takes.
Some PML-N leaders say the military leadership was consulted before Sharif made a formal statement on this count.
But similar to what happened in the Asghar Khan case, military’s top brass would not like to see their former chief being singled out with political figures who abetted Musharraf going spot free.
Meanwhile, the premier’s statement on Musharraf has already sent tremors down the country. Some PML-N leaders seeking anonymity said it was not wise to open a front against the military so early in the day. Other political figures think the government is on a collision course against the military, enumerating Sharif’s past that is cluttered with stand-offs against state institutions.


  1. This issue needs to be decided by Supreme Court otherwise next year geopolitics will again favour a direct or indirect military rule in Pakistan.

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