Mariah Suleman

“The personal ego already has a strong element of dysfunction, but the collective ego is, frequently, even more dysfunctional, to the point of absolute insanity.” - E Tolle

The above quote is a reverberation of my thoughts when I read the following paragraph of the judgment on Musharraf’s case. “We direct the Law Enforcement Agencies to strive their level best to apprehend the fugitive/convict to ensure that the punishment is inflicted as per law and if found dead, his corpse be dragged to the D-Chowk, Islamabad, Pakistan and be hanged for 3 days,” read the detailed verdict. These words were unnecessary and a disaster in such a high profile judgment. I hope Justice Seth realises he has tainted a meticulous process here, with his disgraceful attempt at bravado. The choice of words is beyond humanity, religion, civilisation or any values in any society. Our respectable judges do a disservice to the law and to their office when they engage in such rhetoric. This type of words deserve no place in any legal system. Someone should ask the case to be remanded, based solely on this paragraph. It shows a clear bias and should be enough to set the judgment aside. But it won’t be shocking if the court chooses to say, this is obviously not warranted and it shouldn’t be taken literally. I am not advocating the former Military dictator but our respectable judge really did disappoint by his Maula Jutt interpretation of the Constitution of Pakistan.

Few important lessons to learn from this symbolic judgment in the legal history of Pakistan:

(i) Respect the law: Constitutional warranties are worth noting because here we have Musharraf in his death bed fighting against his death sentence, and seeking protection in the same Constitution that he once subverted and threw in the dustbin when he was in power. It almost felt like an agnostic coming back to his lost religion. The Constitution really protects all, even those who once disregarded it.

(ii) Political vendetta or not, Musharraf’s death sentence is harsh. Why not treat the Sharif family or Zardari in the same manner then? Most people supporting Musharraf’s death sentence, are saying things that are replete with one ruse or another with factual and historical inaccuracies.

(iii) Since time immemorial we have been repeatedly told ‘politicians are corrupt and we must get rid of them’ and ‘we need one man to clean this society,’ (anyone can rebut this in their sleep). The ‘exceptionalism’ argument stands long debunked and has been regurgitated every few years. (iv) Lastly, we learn that the Constitution protects even those who say they are indifferent towards its legitimacy.

Insulting or criticising the Constitution is not an offence. Abrogating or subverting it, among other things, is. However, the right to a fair trial is a fundamental constitutional right that belongs to every citizen of Pakistan and just because of this, the judgement can stand weak. The courts must pay heed to this right before trampling all over it. What about Article 6(2) and the abetters? What about those who took oath under PCO, the politicians, the beneficiaries and those who granted justification to amend the laws? Will they meet the same fate? When will we stop cherry picking in religion and the law?

–The writer is a Barrister at Law in Islamabad.