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Musharraf likely to escape trial

LAHORE: The Supreme Court’s (SC) investigation into the 2007 stage of emergency declared by former president Pervez Musharraf is likely to fade without Musharraf facing trial, as the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) does not want to deal with follow-up cases and the military does not want to get dragged into the case.

The SC is trying to reopen the case against Musharraf by hearing a plea that challenges the position of two Sindh High Court (SHC) judges who were appointed as a result of the November 2007 state of emergency. On July 21, the court issued a notice to Musharraf asking him to explain his decision to declare the emergency. If the court rules against his reasoning, it could pave the way for separate cases against Musharraf, including a charge for high treason.

Back off: However, leading political risk research and consulting company Eurasia Group claims the SC is likely to come under pressure to go easy with the investigation as the military leadership fears it could be dragged into the case. Several senior officers, including Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Kayani, were involved in the decision-making that resulted in the emergency. The leadership also does not want to see a former army chief publicly humiliated and the military’s affairs publicly investigated, the think tank noted, adding Kayani would likely intervene if the SC tried to target Musharraf.

More problems: Meanwhile, the Eurasia Group notes, a ruling against the emergency would create further problems for the PPP government. It could raise questions about the legality of the post-emergency SC’s rulings, which were made by judges who were appointed under the Provisional Constitution Order, including the validation of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). The NRO provides several PPP politicians, including President Asif Ali Zardari, immunity against prosecution.

However, even though Musharraf is likely to escape trail, his return to politics seems unlikely — he is highly unpopular and lacks a political constituency beyond the military, which now reports to Kayani.

According to the think thank, Musharraf is suspected of trying to hijack the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, but the party is unwilling to risk its popularity and political future by accommodating him. The fact that Musharraf has to remain in London while the judicial threat persists would further undermine his efforts to re-launch his political career after his two-year ban against seeking public office ends in November.

Source: Daily Times

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