Mush in the dock
For a country that is used to imprison and hang Prime Ministers and Presidents, charging former Pakistan President and military ruler Pervez Musharraf...
For a country that is used to imprison and hang Prime Ministers and Presidents, charging former Pakistan President and military ruler Pervez Musharraf with the 2007 murder of ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is not a surprise. But what’s surprising is the twist of irony that the leader who was sentenced to life in prison after being deposed by the then Army chief Musharaff in 1999 should be the head of the government when an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad charged him with a political crime on Tuesday. It was only a formal accusation read out to him in the presence of his lawyers and the case was adjourned until August 27. No date has been set for his trial.
This is only the beginning of Musharaff’s long legal battle to be followed by some more to clear himself of the omissions and commissions of high offices he had held between 1999 and 2008 before going into years of self-imposed exile, to escape prosecution at home. While Musharaff’s legal team is confident of rebutting the prosecution charges of the former President’s involvement in the assassination of Benazir or his complicity – since there is little evidence to prove either – his lawyers are yet to prepare their defence when two other cases, seizing power and sacking judges in violation of the Constitution in 1999 and imposition of emergency rule in 2007, come up for hearing. Yet, one more is the killing of Baluch rebel leader Nawab Akbar Bugti during a military operation in 2006.
Even if Musharraf is not found guilty in Benazir murder case, it is unlikely that he will escape other serious charges, including treason which is punishable with death.