Islamabad, Nov. 18, 2013
Claiming the decision had been taken “in the national interest,” Pakistan’s interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, announced last week that the government had decided to initiate treason proceedings against former president Pervez Musharraf for declaring a state of emergency on Nov. 3, 2007, and “manhandling” the judiciary. The government announced and fast-tracked the treason proceedings just days after Musharraf pressed the Sindh High Court to allow him to travel abroad. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has already finalized three names for a special bench to conduct the trial in Islamabad. It’s unclear if Musharraf will be able to attend the proceedings as he remains under threat from the Taliban, who have vowed to kill him for aiding the U.S. in the war on terror. But while the government crows about setting a new precedent by trying a former Army chief, it has been castigated for potentially alienating the armed forces as the military is about to undergo a transition to a new Army chief. The timing of the government’s decision has also been criticized. Analysts and former government officials have pointed out that the decision to try Musharraf for treason came as the country was reeling from a rash of sectarian attacks. It’s a ruse, they argue, to distract the country from the far larger problems of terrorism and religious bigotry.
From our Nov. 29, 2013, issue.