Pakistan’s former military ruler, Gen Pervez Musharraf, who waged war on terrorists and who decided to be on the right side of the world post-9/11, may be exposed to the risk of assassination at the hands of terrorists of all hues. A commando, who led an expedition against India in 1987 to wrest back Siachen illegally captured by India and then launched Kargil operation is now totally cornered. A former chief of army staff and president who faced many assassination attempts at the hands of terrorists has been isolated at his own farm house. If he escapes TTP assassination bid, other forces sympathetic to Taliban may get him.
TTP has already tried to kill him in 2003, twice within 10 days, through some elements of the armed forces sympathetic to the terrorists. The ring leader of his assassins was freed in an historic jailbreak of Bannu and crowned right in the jail before fleeing the premises. He is free to plan and kill Musharraf whose crime as the terrorists and pro-Taliban describe is to push Pakistan into war on terror. This is as if Musharraf had any other choice.
Another crime that Musharraf is accused of is Lal Masjid operation of July, 2007. The premises is located right in the heart of Pakistan’s capital and was taken over by the terrorists who got into kidnapping foreigners, establishing their Sharia courts and providing sanctuary to terrorists. The inmates clashed with the state agencies and finally armed commandos stormed the premises. Some SSG commandos were killed during the operation. Before the operation, all inmates were evacuated. The chief cleric, Maulvi Abdul Aziz, the terrorists’ godfather was nabbed while leaving the premises clad in burqa used by women. He was arrested and charged for attacking the security forces but was subsequently freed under the pressure of pro-Taliban lawyers and judges.
Musharraf’s security detail may be vigilant to protect him from the terrorists of TTP. The grave risk that Musharraf faces is from pro-Taliban extremists clad in black coats. While over-stepping his legal authority, a judge of Islamabad High Court not only dismissed his bail application in an offense which is bailable, he ordered to charge him for terrorist activities. The offense for which he is being charged is restricting the movement of apex court judges who lost their jobs after Proclamation of Emergency on November 3, 2007. This is not an offense which can lead to death penalty, the charge of terrorism can.
And this overstepping of judicial authority has motive attached to it. Let’s look at the judge who is involved in this travesty of justice. According to information trickling down through social media, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui was a candidate of MMA, a party of pro-Taliban clerics who gave free hand to terrorists during their rule in KPK from 2002 to 2007. He was nominated by the party to contest election from a constituency from Rawalpindi, a garrison town housing Pakistan Army’s headquarters. He was the lawyer of those involved in the double suicide attack on Musharraf in 2003. When Maulvi Aziz of Lal Masjid was charged with offenses like attacking security forces in Islamabad, he was the lawyer who managed his release from jail even though everyone has witnessed on TV screens how the terrorists fought the forces on the streets of Islamabad. The judge in question has a been a favorite lawyer of suspected terrorists particularly those involved in attacks against Musharraf and the state. The fact that he did not recuse himself from the bench hearing Musharraf bail plea speaks volumes about not only his judicial conduct but his intention to punish Musharraf.
After judge’s order to include section of Anti-Terrorism Act in the charge-sheet against Musharraf, Anti-Terrorism Court was hastily set up in Islamabad to be presided over by a judge whose brother was an army deserter and was court martialed by Musharraf. This deserter came on the radar of security agencies when he was found involved in providing sophisticated arms to CIA’s security contractors, Black Waters. He was apprehended but freed under pressure from the USA. The judge has an obvious grudge against Musharraf, army and the security agencies.
The free media, who owes its freedom to a dictator like Musharraf, comes in handy. This is a golden opportunity for the media to bash army and ISI and portray Musharraf as a criminal who must be hanged for his crimes. Everyone seems to forget that Musharraf’s rule was corruption-free when Pakistan was the fastest growing economy of Asia and people were generally prosperous and there was no IMF clutches to sustain the balance of payment.
And then there is a Supreme Court who nurture grudges against Musharraf for a decision which led to their sacking in 2007. They are hearing a case against him for proclamation of emergency. They had themselves validated his sacking of an elected government but like their detention has been interpreted as an act of terrorism, their sacking has been determined as an act of high treason which carries death penalty. Then there are lawyers, the hooligans whose hooliganism has escaped the process of law because they are the foot soldiers of present chief justice who owe his restoration to his job to a movement by these lawyers.
Musharraf’s fate has been sealed, or this is what they think who want to get him. All arrangements are in place to teach Musharraf a lesson. He is no politician. Politicians seek compromise and leave to safe palaces in holy lands to avoid legal action. He has come back to face legal action and this is where he seems to have erred. Is he brave or stupid, only the time will tell but only today, an SC-appointed judicial commission has dented the credibility of Lal Masjid allies’ claims that Musharraf’s Lal Masjid operation resulted in death of hundreds of innocent girls. The report says not a single girl was killed. There may be more surprises and let us cross our fingers and wait to see how this drama unfolds.
- Musharraf behind Lal Masjid operation: Report (gulfnews.com)
- Musharraf’s Pakistan gamble (edition.cnn.com)
- Lawyer barred from meeting Musharraf in Sub-jail (dawn.com)