by Syed Kaswar Gardezi

The writer is a student of law at the University of London and a freelance writer

This past decade has witnessed a significant change in the socio-political paradigm of Pakistan. The revival of democracy , restoration of Judiciary , the 2013 transition of power were all major contributors to this change. But the return of the ‘Commando’ on 24th March 2013 brought with it a test of nerves for the soon to be elected Sharifs. Musharraf vowed to save the country, this time through a political struggle, only to be buried under a tirade of legal complications solely in the name of Justice. Trial under Article 6 of the constitution was labeled as ‘historic’ by some but do we really acknowledge its ‘historic’ importance? Is it really intended to provide justice or is it something else-revenge perhaps?

Musharraf has been indicted for high treason under Article 6 of the Constitution- read Section 3 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act 1973. This presumed preservation of the ‘Rule of law’ was celebrated in many quarters especially those directly affected by the November 2007 emergency.  However, the most interesting detail to be noted is the convenient blind eye turned by the corridors of power towards the 1999 coup d'état by General Musharraf. Was the November 2007 Emergency a prodigious threat to the constitution as compared to the 1999 takeover?

Article 6 when scrutinised by a lay person concerns the basic principle of high treason as stated in clause 1. Article 6 states: (2) Any person aiding or abetting [or collaborating] the acts mentioned in clause (1) shall likewise be guilty of high treason. (2A) An act of high treason mentioned in clause (1) or clause (2) shall not be validated by any court including the Supreme Court and a High Court.

“Aiding” or “Abetting” these two words somehow answer our question as to why the ‘coup’ is not considered as high treason on Musharraf’s part. On the 13th of May 2000: Honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan ‘unanimously’ validated Musharraf’s coup on the basis of “doctrine of necessity”. The Apex court further conferred the power on the then army chief to single-handedly amend the Constitution. Clause (2A) moreover complicates the matter. Therefore, integrating the 1999 coup in Musharraf’s trial under Article 6 would indicate questioning the superior judiciary.

Enter the ‘Lord Denning’ of Pakistan, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry. Best known for his Suo-moto actions and the supposed quick disposal of justice, the CJP was hell bent to get the former president to face the wrath of the law. But was it really an advocacy of justice or mere indignation? Facts might suggest the latter.

It took one short order to stagger the entire revival of democracy when the incumbent Prime Minister was sent packing. Nevertheless, sense prevailed on the then in power Pakistan People’s Party to avoid the skirmish with the judiciary. Yet the seemingly indomitable CJP dare not   question Musharraf’s actions in 1999, but was alternatively insistent and rather expeditious in promulgating the illegality of the November 2007 emergency imposed by the General. This was not done out of love for effectuating justice, but maybe because the emergency had primarily targeted Justice Chaudry himself, or maybe because the Supreme Court’s endorsement of the coup will have to be impugned.

As the saying goes ‘Every man for himself.’ Sad is the fate of our beloved country as its executive bodies religiously abide by this policy. The custodians of the sanctity of the sacred   constitution of Pakistan are seen calling it even.

Till today the synopsis of our country remains unchanged. Time has seen the practice being adopted of summoning the Chief Executive of the country elected by the Majlis-e-shoora to the apex court, and special courts being constituted to indict a former chief of the army. Yet there is not even the slightest mention of the Ex-CJP appearing before a judicial commission comprising the current reigning Chief Justice, in order to answer allegations pertaining to malpractice in the 2013 general elections.
Somewhere in between this ‘Game of thrones’ Jinnah’s Pakistan lays abandoned

It obligates me to agree with Jalib sahib “Aese dastoor ko, subh e be noor ko, mein nahi manta, mein nahi jaanta”