Weekly Bang-e-Sahar August 23—August 29,2008
Many of those who saw General Musharraf take his farewell guard of honour as president of Pakistan must have surely wondered that why was a man who had twice mangled the constitution of the country, launched a vicious attack on the country’s judiciary and independent media and who allowed intelligence agencies under his watch to pick up Pakistani citizens and hold them incommunicado at will was being given such a respectable send-off. Of course, one only has to consider that what happens to an ordinary law-breaker and whether he can ever expect to be allowed to go away scot-free. It seems that the higher the degree and quantum of violation the more chance for the perpetrator to get away without any punishment.
That the former president was hugely unpopular as his rule went on can be easily gauged by the spontaneous jubilation and celebrations that broke out all over the country on the afternoon of Aug 18 as he announced — finally, some may say — that he was resigning. Similar scenes were witnessed in parliament where Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani went to say on record that the seventeenth amendment would also be done away with.
This is intriguing given that this amendment allowed indemnity to many of the actions of General Musharraf including his coup of Oct 12, 1999. In this context, a statement by Baloch nationalist leader Sardar Ataullah Mengal that the former president should be treated in the same manner that he treated Balochistan also merits some scrutiny. Mr Mengal has said that the people of the country want justice to be served and this can only be done by holding Mr Musharraf accountable for all his misdeeds, which include twice holding the constitution in abeyance. There are many who would disagree with Mr Mengal, not least because they would say that the nation desperately needs stability and a sense of certainty and dragging the former president through the courts would only exacerbate matters.