General Musharraf Must Face Justice

Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf speaks during an interview with AFP at his residence in the Gulf emirate of
Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf speaks during an interview with AFP at his residence in the Gulf emirate of Dubai on March 22, 2013. Musharraf said he would definitely return home on March 24 to contest historic elections in May and that he was prepared to risk any danger to his life. AFP PHOTO/AAMIR QURESHI (Photo credit should read AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

General Pervez Musharraf, who has returned to Pakistan from self-exile, must face justice. He must be prosecuted for his serial criminality, including subversion of the constitution. The courts should deny him bail, disqualify him from contesting general elections scheduled in May, and bring the full weight of the constitution and the criminal justice system to bear upon Musharraf's criminality so that a precedent is established that military generals who undermine the rule of law and engage in criminality will be held fully accountable. In prosecuting Musharraf, courts should disregard any pressure from military generals, intelligence agencies, or foreign governments. It will be good for Pakistan's legal system to prosecute a renowned general who trampled over the constitution and practiced might over right.

Musharraf's disrespect for law is related to his megalomania expressed in his autobiography. The Oxford English Dictionary defines megalomania as "insanity of self-exaltation." Persons suffering from megalomania see the world as a lawless playground. Robert Jay Lifton explains: "The megalomaniac self lacks limits and boundaries; it resists or denies restraints of any sort. Hence the self envelops the world; the world dissolves into the self." Jane Tillman in her book Megalomania states: "Megalomania is characterized by an inflated sense of self-esteem and overestimation by persons of their powers and beliefs. Often associated with delusions, psychotic processes, or extreme forms of narcissism, megalomania may refer to delusions of grandeur, with a pathological overvaluation of ideas, or plans for remaking the world in accord with the person's own wishes and fantasies." Musharraf, who boasts in his autobiography as a fearless military commando, is a megalomaniac risk-taker. Musharraf's life story reveals a willful man who demands more than he deserves, a man of average intelligence who believes to possess the exceptional talents of a gigantic hero.

While some Pakistanis, particularly those who have little faith in democracy and seek strong men as rulers, may admire Musharraf for his various adventures with law, most Pakistanis would rather prefer that Musharraf face criminal charges not as a free man on bail but as a presumptive criminal behind bars. Under Musharraf's lawless rule, thousands of political workers from Balochistan were victims of enforced disappearances and hundreds of terrorism suspects were tortured. The human rights record of Musharraf's regime has been the most ignoble in Pakistan's history. By all counts, Musharraf is a documented serial criminal.

Serial Criminality

Granted, Musharraf has not yet been convicted of any crimes, including treason. Granted, civil and criminal cases can be easily fabricated against anyone in Pakistan, particularly against disfavored leaders. Granted, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Notwithstanding these presumptions, however, the documented prima facie evidence of criminality, as discussed below, is so strong against Musharraf that no person with his court file is entitled to be free on bail under the laws of Pakistan. Musharraf must be in prison while he contests the charges of enforced disappearances, torture, murder, and treason.

Musharraf as the chief of the army staff commenced numerous catastrophic adventures founded on delusions of grandeur and fruitless plans for remaking the world he knew. The chronology of his crimes is dishonorable. In 1998, only months after assuming the office of the chief of army staff, Musharraf authorized the Kargil invasion in the disputed territory of Indian-held Kashmir, an absurd war that killed more than two thousands Indian and Pakistani soldiers and wounded twice as many. Evidence is available to demonstrate that the Kargil invasion, a plan gathering dust in the military files since 1984, was instantly activated as soon as Musharraf assumed the military leadership. A year after the Kargil invasion, Musharraf embarked upon a wicked expedition to undermine the constitutional foundation of Pakistan. In 1999, Musharraf deposed a democratically-elected government, arrested the prime minister, removed the president, declared a state of emergency, suspended the constitution, and assumed the self-invented office of the Chief Executive. Reacting to this lawless assumption of power, Pakistan was suspended from the Commonwealth of Nations.

In 2001, after the 9/11 attacks on the United States, Musharraf found an opening to play at the world-stage. President George Bush, another serial criminal who undermined both international law as well as the U.S. constitution, welcomed Musharraf's aiding and abetting in prosecuting the war on terror. Both megalomaniac men co-signed a charter of shared criminality. Both men conspired to engage in enforced disappearances. Both men permitted the torture of terror suspects.

In 2006, emboldened by America's lawless war on terror, Musharraf turned to the business of assassinations. As chief of the army staff, Musharraf planned to murder Akbar Bugti, a political dissident in the politically fractured province of Balochistan. Musharraf congratulated Special Forces that had killed Bugti with a missile and designated the murder as a great victory for Pakistan. However, the nation was shocked that the military under Musharraf's thumb would engage in the blatant assassination of a political dissident.

In July 2007, Musharraf ordered the massacre of religious students trapped in Lal Masjid, a mosque located in Islamabad. Credible witnesses who mediated negotiations tell that the mosque's leadership conceded to every demand that Musharraf was making to end the standoff. Musharraf, however, had little use for what he calls the "religious right." Musharraf also wanted to thrill his co-criminal, President Bush, by staging a public massacre of "terrorists." Cold-bloodedly, Musharraf sabotaged a negotiated solution and ordered Operation Sunrise to kill men, women, and children besieged in the mosque. The nation was horrified.

In December 2007, Benazir Bhutto was killed not far away from Islamabad. The murder is shrouded in mystery as the Musharraf government destroyed much of the evidence on the scene of the crime. In 2011, the Anti-Terrorism Court issued an arrest warrant for Musharraf on evidence that Musharraf knew about the assassination plan but decided to withhold the information from the security forces. Bhutto's murder deepened the popular revulsion against Musharraf.

Assault on Supreme Judiciary

In 2007, seeing an approaching end to his criminal regime, Musharraf turned to humiliate the Supreme Court of Pakistan, an institution that embodies law, enforces law, and is the prime symbol of law and justice. Musharraf particularly loathed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who was actively summoning cases of enforced disappearances arising in Chief Justice's native province of Balochistan. In March 2007, Musharraf invited the Chief Justice to appear before a panel of military generals, all in uniforms, and ordered him to resign. The Chief Justice refused to comply -- a refusal unprecedented in Pakistan's judicial history. In the past, the Supreme Court has been more than willing to endorse military orders including frequent suspensions of the constitution. Musharraf fired the Chief Justice. As a rebuff to Musharraf, however, the Supreme Court reinstated the Chief Justice.

In November 2007, Musharraf struck again, this time at the entire Supreme Court. Exercising powers nowhere mentioned in any laws, Musharraf again suspended the constitution, declared a state of emergency, and house-arrested all Justices of the Supreme Court. This degradation of the entire Supreme Court, however, strengthened the Court in the eyes of the people looking for someone to stand up to the abuse of power. Responding to Musharraf's mistreatment of Justices, the lawyers of Pakistan launched an illustrious campaign to restore respect for the judiciary. After the general elections in 2008, Musharraf was forced to resign. He later left Pakistan to live abroad. His criminal megalomania, however, has remained uncured as Musharraf still fantasizes recapturing power and "saving Pakistan."


Pakistan must prosecute Musharraf's serial criminality. Pakistan's military must not protect a documented criminal because, in the final analysis, Musharraf disgraces the military. Musharraf must be forced to fight his cases from behind bars since the prime facie evidence is more than sufficient to deny him bail under the laws of Pakistan. Pakistani courts must accord due process to Musharraf as even serial criminals are entitled to a fair and speedy trial. The families of persons tortured and killed under Musharraf's lawless regime have to be patient until law renders justice.