Military Exceptionalism

Aug 7, 2017
Nawaz Sharif is a politician who has avoided open-ended interviews and pressconferences in favor of closely controlled unilateral statements and speeches during his four year term.
Despite this, on Saturday he sat down with senior journalists in what can only be described as a brainstorming session.
As well as answering the questions of the journalists – those that he deemed fit to respond to - he asked for the gathered journalist’s opinions on past proceedings and future policy.
This rather unusual discussion seemed to be intended to orient the gathered media men to the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz’s (PML-N) stance ahead of Nawaz Sharif’s drive to Lahore.
While Nawaz Sharif reiterated old points without going on the offensive, he seemed particularly critical of how the courts have handled the fate of past military dictators.
His ire was directed at one military dictator in particular – Pervez Musharraf, who is currently a declared absconder from the law, having left the country to seek medical treatment but not returning to face charges.
“Can any court give a verdict against a military dictator like this?” he asked the gathered journalists rhetorically.
Despite the question’s rhetorical nature, it does make a good point; no military dictator has been held liable for the breach of constitution the same way elected politicians are.
While we can point to a number of factor’s to explain this situation – the court’s weakness and unwillingness, the military establishment’s strength it must also be remembered that the civilian government’s also have a role n letting past dictators go.
Pervez Musharaf was granted permissions to leave, and was whisked away in the dead of the night in an army motorcade to the airport - none of which could have happened without the knowledge and agreement of the government.
It could be argued that pressure from certain quarters had made the government acquiesce, but this is the same pressure that the courts face, the same pressure that needs to be strongly countered by the government if it ever hopes to convict dictators.
Talk of military exceptionalism and unfair treatment at this moment is as much about firing up the voter base as it is about the substantial issues involved – perhaps even more so – but all this conversation has certainly pointed the spotlight at Pervez Musharraf and his flight from justice.
Nation, August 7, 2017

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