Former Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf was formally charged on three counts for the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. The charges were murder, conspiracy to commit murder and the facilitation of murder.
Musharraf, who had been charting out the course for a political comeback, has been under house arrest for the past four months. It is time for him to face up to one of the biggest challenges of his life. Ironically, he was barred from contesting the elections when poll officials put into effect the same emergency decree passed by him in 2007.
Whether he is guilty or not, it is important that this trial — which has the potential to rivet observers outside Pakistan and in the state as well — is organised in a democratic and unprejudiced manner. The former general must get the opportunity to put up an adequate defence, while acquainting himself with the interpretations of the law.
There are probably many within Pakistan’s political fraternity, notably the judiciary, who may wish to grind the axe on Musharraf for his alleged lapses in the past, but the country’s able judges must be objective and impartial.
Musharraf is seen as someone who did not exactly champion the cause of democracy. He managed to alienate many while at the helm. He must, however, accept that it is the democratic infrastructure that has now thwarted his ambitions as a politician who wanted to cast aside the bullet and win by the ballot.