KARAMATULLAH K. GHORI
[dropcap]G[/dropcap]ENERAL Musharraf’s ghost-written and largely delusional ‘autobiography’ was titled, In the Line of Fire , in its original version. Its Urdu translation imparted it an even more grandiloquent title, Sub Se Pehle Pakistan (Pakistan above all else) to hoodwink the people of Pakistan and prompt raw chauvinistic instincts among those Pakistanis who took him seriously.
Come to think of it, both book titles look so overblown and bogus in the wake of Musharraf’s latest antics related to his trial for treason under article 6 of the Pakistan Constitution.
It took only the command from the special court constituted to try him to appear before it to expose the myth of the commando general’s oft-repeated mantra that he was a fearless man: Mein kisi se nahin darta (I fear no one) was the boast aired by him umpteen number of times from myriad fora and platforms. He and his team of largely loud-mouthed lawyers have—since the constitution of the special court—employed cheap , and often bizarre, manoeuvres to keep the ‘brave’ commando away from the court’s dock at all costs.
And when the honorable court finally decided to call his persistent bluff and handed down a deadline to him that he was required to comply with—or face arrest—the commando’s bravado and ‘steely grit’ unraveled like a sand castle and the colossus that his acolytes and minions painted over the years was exposed to have wobbly feet of clay.
But there was more drama in store for millions of Pakistanis—both at home and abroad—who had their eyes glued to television screens as Musharraf’s elaborate cavalcade of cars and security vehicles pulled out of his plush farm house, ostensibly to wind its way to the court premises. The government had deployed no less than 1600 security personnel to guard the gutless commando’s route to the court to ensure that no surprises would mar the journey and the accused in the treason trial would be delivered safely to the court’s lap.
But surprise of a most unexpected kind was just waiting to happen around the corner: the fretting commando’s cavalcade was mysteriously detoured to the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) where he’s still holed up as these lines are being written.
Surprise of surprises has its provenance in the medical report penned by the head of cardiology department of AFIC: Musharraf, says the report submitted to the special court on January 7, is suffering from at least 9 different ailments. How curious. One would be hard put to recall any occasion from the past 14 years—from the day he seized power in a military coup as bizarre as his AFIC report of serious afflictions—when he or anyone from his close circle ever pouted a word about his multiple medical problems. Every time the issue of his health came up the usual, robust, refrain was that the commando was a paragon of good health and fit as a fiddle.
Shouldn’t the commando be grateful to the court? If the court hadn’t summoned him to appear before it—as he should because the law is supposed to apply to all without distinction of their station in life—and the brave general hadn’t panicked and sought refuge in a military safe-house—he would still be unaware that he has been a carrier and repository of so many ailments—some quite serious, if not grave. But Musharraf’s pricey bunch of legal clowns, purportedly tendering him the best advice his money could buy, are still accusing the court of nurturing designs to harm him.
Was it really the way it is being dished out by Musharraf’s partisans that the fierce and fearless General suddenly started sweating in the car on his way to the court and had to be rushed to army’s top clinic to receive immediate medical help?
Come on, whiz kids. Stop insulting the intelligence of the Pakistani people. They are far too intelligent and constant adversity and suffering at the hands of bumbling Bonapartes—and their salivating and delusional minions—has instilled enough common sense in them to be fooled by your baloney without demur.
Anyone reading between the lines of all that nonsense being spun around that Musharraf only fell sick on his way to the court can understand that the so-called impromptu detour to AFIC had been meticulously planned and rehearsed. Musharraf had been wailing and beating his chest for days (that didn’t, of course, trigger a heart-attack) that he expected his fraternity to rescue him in his hour of peril. The ‘Faujis’ may have remained silent but they are not dumb. They sought a way out that would throw a life-line to their beleaguered former Chief and yet not embarrass them.
So by providing him refuge in a safe-house the GHQ brass has done a huge favor to their impugned commando general. No, they have done much more than that by coming up with a long list of afflictions threatening his life. So, now, armed with this ‘expert’ medical report from a ‘clean’ medical institute of impeccable reputation and sound credentials Musharraf and his loud-mouthed—theatrical—advocates can argue against his physical appearance before the special court, any time soon. Who said the GHQ wasn’t an exclusive club of privileged and pampered generals who make sure to guard each other’s backs?
Which raises the next question: where does this leave Musharraf’s boast in his memoirs that he placed Pakistan ahead of his person and personal interest?
Talk is easy; talk is cheap. Ask any Pakistani and he’d make the same claim: Pakistan is far above his self or person. But the test is in actions, not words. And the bumbling commando general is no exception to failing this bar, as do millions of other Pakistanis.
Pakistan wouldn’t be where it is today—or rather where it has been brought to because of its people’s petty shenanigans all focused on dragging the country down into the pit—if most Pakistanis had really practiced what they’ve been preaching all along–Pakistan first and foremost and above any personal gain or interest or privilege.
From the moment Mian Nawaz Sharif—in his naivety or arrogance—made that Himalayan blunder of picking up the brass’ most notorious general to head the Pakistan Army, Musharraf has been anything but totally focused on putting his personal interests above those of Pakistan. The man was obsessed with power—raw power, at that—from the day he took over the military’s command and set about charting a clever path to crown himself Pakistan’s undisputed and unchallenged supremo.
Musharraf’s obsession with power and vain-glory hasn’t abated one bit even in so-called adversity. He cares two hoots for the law of the land or the Constitution he swore to honor and protect. That explains his hubris of shredding the highest law of the land, not once but twice, incarcerating judges of the apex court like ordinary criminals and then boasting that it was just a token of the enormous power he commanded and wielded with gay abundance.
Has there ever been an iota of regret or compunction gleaned from his besotted demeanor or arrogant swagger that what he did was wrong and uncalled for? He’s still adamant that what he did was right, and he was legally and morally entitled to do it.
As guilty as Musharraf are all those clowns claiming expertise of law and morality arrayed behind him. All that they prove is the point that a criminal involved in a crime of such magnitude doesn’t operate alone. And that’s the mega-argument being plied and paraded by his feckless partisans: that if he’s to be tried, others who advised him or stood by him should also be tried. They want to put every autocrat and military dictator in the dock.
The ill-disguised intent of his cabal of the devil’s advocates—and this college of clowns is studded with some very articulate cynics, as also some of those buddies from across Pakistan’s limited intellectual spectrum who still pine for those many ‘happy hours’ they spent in the company of high-living commando when they could forget about the world outside their magic castle—is to create so much confusion and chaos that the focus may be deflected from ‘their man’ in the dock.
These intellectual gurus, if taken seriously, would want to go back to the Bible’s ‘original sin’ to lend a long rope to their dishonored mentor and fellow-traveler.
Cut a long debate short. Forget about the legal nuances and interpretations. Leave that to the special court set up to prosecute the wayward commando. Le’s narrow down our focus to just the moral aspect of the whole issue. What would you say about the moral compass of a nation whose intelligentsia has a vocal element of partisans of a man accused of trampling its Constitution under his feet and still feeling proud of his brazen temerity?
All the effort of the Musharraf partisans is to cloud the issue that the law of the land should apply to everyone alike. Pity the nation whose moral compass is lost, where stalwarts of the intelligentsia want to have two different laws, one for the weak and another for the powerful. A nation living by double-standards doesn’t deserve to survive, much less thrive.
I shall still be waiting to get an answer to my question: what comes first, Pakistan or Musharraf?