Wednesday, December 18, 2019
Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Wednesday took a dig at sitting government by asking who was running the “save your father” campaign now, in an apparent reference to the PTI government’s reaction on a Special Court verdict awarding death sentence to former president Pervez Musharraf in high treason case.
Abu bachao muhim kon chala raha hai? @ImranKhanPTI— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) December 18, 2019
Notably, Prime Minister Imran Khan has summoned Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) core committee meeting on Wednesday evening as per the sources.
The core committee will hold discussions over the developing situation following the special court’s verdict of sentencing former president and top military official Pervez Musharraf to death in high treason case and formulate future strategies.
It is important to note that PTI ministers had reacted to the judgment and said that it would give rise to rifts between institutions.
A court has handed the death sentence to ex-ruler Pervez Musharraf. Although the capital punishment must be opposed, the verdict is a warning to the military that it must stay out of politics, says DW's Shamil Shams.
Let's be assured that former military dictator Pervez Musharraf will not be executed after a special court awarded him the death sentence in a highly unexpected verdict on Tuesday. Also, no matter how serious the crime, we must never endorse the capital punishment.
The Pakistani military is an immensely powerful institution, so much so that all civilian institutions, including the judiciary, have largely remained subservient to it for at least six decades. Musharraf is a former army chief, who ruled the country with an iron fist from 1999 to 2008. Although he now lives in a self-imposed exile in the UAE, he is respected by the current military commanders for his "services" during his tenure.
Also, the military will never want its ex-chief to be hanged. It would significantly dent its image and curtail its political power in the country.
The court verdict has already done a lot of damage to the army. The symbolic value of the ruling should not be underestimated. It sends out a clear message to the military generals that they are not above the law; that they could also be tried and punished for suspending and violating the constitution. It is a message that the military must abide by their constitutional role and not interfere in politics.
The powerful military would most likely ensure that Musharraf is not harmed in any way. And there are legal ways to counter the special court's verdict. Musharraf can still challenge the decision in the Supreme Court. There, the death sentence could be reversed or diluted. Pakistan's judiciary has a chequered record of endorsing military coups and has time and again provided legal cover to military dictators. So a different decision from superior courts cannot be ruled out.
But politics in Pakistan has changed a lot in the past decade. Civilian institutions are increasingly asserting themselves against the army.
During his third term as premier (2013-2017), former PM Nawaz Sharif — who was ousted in a bloodless military coup by Musharraf in 1999 — tried to rein in the military's powers. The industrialist-premier wanted to forge closer ties with India so that Pakistan could do away with the "security state" narrative. This, he believed, would bring in more foreign investment into the country and ultimately diminish the military's power.
Other institutions, too, are taking an independent line. We must not forget that Musharraf's ouster was only made possible because of a massive lawyers' movement in 2007. Recently, Asif Saeed Khosa, the Supreme Court chief justice, only conditionally approved the tenure extension for General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the country's army chief. Now Prime Minister Imran Khan must pass a law in parliament to support his government's decision to grant a second term to the army chief.
The military finds itself in a precarious situation, with an independent media and a growing civil society also raising their voice. The military's involvement in politics is being slammed more than ever in Pakistan, which must be a cause of concern for military leadership.
A new social contract
Meanwhile, international pressure on the Pakistani military has also been on the rise. In October, the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force group gave Pakistan four months to prove it was fighting terror financing. Since coming to power, US President Donald Trump has also substantially reduced American military aid for Pakistan.
But that does not mean that the military will not fight back. And a clash of institutions in a nuclear-armed country with countless Islamist groups is not a very pleasant thought. Therefore, what Pakistan needs now is a new social contract that ensures that all state institutions function within their constitutional ambit.
It is also high time that the military generals sit together, surrender some of their powers and accept the civilians' right to rule the country. A country like Pakistan, which sits on many geopolitical fault-lines, cannot afford a prolonged intra-institutional confrontation.
Joseph Sipalan, Stephen Kalin
Leaders from many Islamic nations including Turkey and Iran gathered in Malaysia on Wednesday to tackle issues that have agitated Muslims worldwide, but the summit was snubbed by Saudi Arabia and its close ally Pakistan.At a welcome dinner, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said the Kuala Lumpur Summit would aim to “do something” to improve the lives of Muslims and overcome Islamophobia.
“We need to find a way to address our shortcomings, our dependency on non-Muslims to protect ourselves against the enemies of Islam,” said Mahathir, 94, the world’s oldest head of government and one of its most outspoken. The four-day summit could also address mounting outrage over China’s camps for Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang - a subject that will doubtless upset Beijing.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who along with Mahathir and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan had been a prime mover behind the summit, made a belated decision to skip the meeting.
Some Pakistani officials, unnamed because they are not authorized to speak to the media, said Khan pulled out under pressure from Saudi Arabia, though local media reported his officials denied that was the reason for the absence of the world’s second-most populous Muslim country from the meeting. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamid Al-Thani, whose countries have tense relations with Saudi Arabia, were at the gathering in Kuala Lumpur.
Saudi Arabia said the summit was the wrong forum for matters of importance to the world’s 1.75 billion Muslims, though some analysts suspected the kingdom feared being diplomatically isolated by regional rivals Iran, Qatar, and Turkey.
Saudi state news agency SPA reported that on a call with Mahathir on Tuesday, Saudi King Salman reaffirmed that such issues should be discussed through the Jeddah-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
A Saudi source said the country declined to attend because the meeting was not being held under OIC auspices. The Saudi government’s center for international communication did not respond to a request for comment.