The case of General (retd) Pervez Musharraf has once again come to a standstill after the failure of collection of his statement. Legal experts are trying to figure out whether a statement can be recorded online due to Musharraf’s illness making it difficult for him to travel back to Pakistan. This past weekend, he was once again admitted to the hospital because he developed a reaction to his condition. In these circumstances, the three-member bench dealing with his case is facing difficulties to carry out further legal duties.

General (retd) Musharraf is facing a high profile treason case against him and this is no ordinary circumstance. A person facing treason charges should be made available before the Court instead of the Court needing new legislation in order to accommodate his situation. General Musharraf has been given every opportunity to face the charges against him and make his case publicly- indeed, the previous Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar even promised him last year that he would not be arrested immediately, as Musharraf feared, as long as he only return to make good to the Court. Despite the legal system going out and beyond to make the case proceedings comfortable for the retired General, Musharraf did not return- even though he had voiced interest in contesting elections. An assurance apparently was not good enough.

This is in complete contrast to the treatment doled out to former premier Mian Nawaz Sharif, whose worsening medical condition is a cause for concern. Despite persistent protests by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and frantic appeals by Nawaz Sharif’s daughter, Maryam, Nawaz Sharif’s bail on medical grounds has been rejected once by the Islamabad High Court and has been appealed to the Supreme Court, for which the first hearing was yesterday.

It will be interesting to see if General Musharraf’s case under treason will be taken more seriously with the new Chief Justice, who being in the hallmark of fame when it comes to adjudicating criminal cases, would understand the gravity of the charges against Musharraf. However the Court decides to proceed, it should ensure that the same treatment is meted out to everyone, whether charged with treason or forgery. Discrepancy in treatment weakens the government’s position and can also result in mistrust in the legal system of the country - the image of which was diligently revived during the last tenure.