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Is Musharraf trial Pak’s catharsis?

Whether or not he’s eventually convicted of the 27 December 2007 murder of former prime minister and Pakistan People’s Party chief, the late Benazir Bhutto, the very fact that an army general is being chargesheeted over the killing of a civilian leader is a milestone in the chequered history of Pakistan.

Despite being in throes of uncertainty, with the rogue military body ISI agency raising its ugly and violent head in order to establish the pecking order the beleaguered nation’s scheme of things, the Nawaz Sharif government, it so appears, is trying to invoke the principles of justice, even if that means incarcerating and trying a former army chief, dictator and ex-president of the country, unprecedented in his 66-year-old history.

Musharraf, who returned to Pakistan in March just before the May general elections, ending his four-year-long self-exile in London, was charged with murder, facilitation of murder and criminal conspiracy to murder in an eight-page indictment, and although proving any of these charges would be difficult, the theatre of the generalissimo’s trial would certainly throw Pakistan into a lasting mood of introspection and self-criticism. Clearly, an indictment and trial would benefit the country, that has seen the worst of military overreach for the most part of its inglorious past.

Engineering the charismatic Benazir ‘Bibi’ Bhutto’s murder, in a suicide attack during her December 2007 poll-bound campaign, is a charge that is, nevertheless, laced in contradictions, albeit, it certain, there was a serious security breach that resulted in the leader’s unfortunate and violent death. The two-time prime minister, then in political opposition, had returned from eight years of self-imposed exile in Dubai, another fact that now bears a haunting and ironical significance, given Musharraf’s own stint in London after he was ousted in 2008, and the army oversaw a general election that brought back the PPP to power. Although the Musharraf government had blamed the Taliban for the assassination, nevertheless, it couldn’t have happened without the dictator having a whiff of the possible operation, and as per a UN report, governmental laxity had indeed played a big role.
MPost

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