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Musharraf’s return: The graveyard is full of indispensables

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“We rotate these days among people … the only being who cannot and will not perish is your Lord.”

We were inside the parliament building, saying Friday prayers after a stormy Senate session. What we witnessed inside made all of us feel humble and subdued.

“Put Pervez Musharraf in the same cell where he put Nawaz Sharif. Let snakes and scorpions into his room. Let him cry out in pain,” said one of the senators as the lawmakers vented their anger against the former military ruler.

“Handcuff and shackle him and parade him through the streets,” said another senator.

I opened a little window to the recent past and found myself in the army chief’s official residence in Rawalpindi where Musharraf was staying after toppling Nawaz Sharif. He was still the chief executive of Pakistan, a strange title he coined for himself before moving to the president’s office.

We were there with a media team to interview him. Some members of his advisory team were also there, including a Rawalpindi politician. Musharraf sneezed. Three of these advisors ran to him, holding tissue papers. The Pindi politician reached him first. Others looked at him with envy.

None of them came forward to defend the former dictator when PPP, PML-N and ANP lawmakers berated him this Friday, although some of them were present during the debate too.

The senators also targeted the caretaker government for failing to arrest Musharraf after an Islamabad court refused to grant him bail.

They wanted him “hauled to the worst prison” in the country, as a PPP senator said. Later, one senator also suggested that he should be hanged for toppling a lawfully elected government.

Above all, they wanted him “disgraced, dishonored and humiliated” as a “warning to future adventure seekers.”

The retired general, however, had already suffered much humiliation. The man who once hauled the country’s chief justice to his office and tried to persuade him to resign is now forced to appear before junior magistrates, seeking bail.

But that’s not enough for his enemies. They want more. “Do to him what they did to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir and Nawaz Sharif,” said one senator, ignoring a plea from the Senate chairman not to get carried away.

The sane among them, however, did warn their colleagues not to go too far. “The ground realities must not be ignored,” said a senior PPP senator. “After all, he is a former army chief and the military obviously will not like this humiliation.”

He urged the angry politicians to seek a way out, proposing “consultation among all stake holders,” i.e. the interim government, the judiciary, PPP, PML-N, ANP and the military.

Other senators also agreed with the suggestion, saying that starting a treason trial against Musharraf will not stop at him. “Don’t forget that the present army chief was also attended Musharraf’s meeting with the chief justice,” said a senator.

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