Musharraf’s problems

February 01, 2014 - 12:32:12 am
Former military ruler of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf is finding it difficult to extricate from the net he is entangled in. The more he tries to escape, the more entangled he becomes. A special court constituted to try the former military ruler for high treason charges now has rejected his application seeking permission for medical treatment outside Pakistan and has summoned him on February 7. The 70-year-old is facing treason charges over his imposition of a state of emergency in 2007 while he was president.

Musharraf must be desperately looking for ideas to flee from Pakistan and flee from the problems he had heaped on himself with the decision to return to his country from self-imposed exile. The whole episode now sounds like a scene out of a drama: a former ruler coming back to rescue the country from the multitudes of problems it’s facing and finding himself in a position requiring rescue. 

Musharraf has been in a military hospital since falling ill with heart trouble while travelling to the special treason tribunal on January 2 and his lawyers had argued he needed specialist treatment abroad. But the former general’s name is on the “exit control list”, meaning he cannot leave Pakistan. Yesterday, a three-member special court reserved its decision on the medical report of the former president. While announcing its decision, the court also issued a bailable arrest warrant against the ex-army strongman. The bail bond was fixed at Rs 2.5 million. The court observed that Musharraf’s medical report submitted by doctors did not state anywhere that he could not appear before it, adding there was no choice but to issue a bailable arrest warrant against him.

The tussle between Musharraf and the court is likely to continue with both sides determined not to give in. Musharraf is a shrewd politician and can be expected to devise novel ways to outwit the court, and even enlist the support of the military when going gets extremely tough. The court too has the power to make sure that its writ along runs. If Musharraf fails to appear before the court in its next hearing, then a non-bailable arrest warrant is likely to be issued against him.   It’s difficult to predict how future episodes will unfold, but there will be plenty of suspense and high-tension moments. It is highly unlikely that the country’s powerful military will allow one of its members to be sent to jail, but the executive and judiciary can do enough things to make Musharraf’s life miserable.

Whether Musharraf wins or not, one thing is clear: he had grievously miscalculated with his decision to come back. It would be interesting to hear what he has to say on this. Perhaps, his advisers were to blame. The world has enough examples where the coteries have caused the downfall of leaders.