The people of the sub-continent seldom seem familiar with the contours of South American political scene. It may be useful to analyse therefore in my today’s column the sheer identical nature of the rise and fall of Fujimori with the political fortunes of Musharraf. They had some common elements into their induction and evolution into the politics of their respective countries. Both were not born in the territories of countries where they rose to the political might of power but were immigrants; both were then eventually to become the head of governments in Peru and Pakistan with the direct help of the military; throughout their tenures the facade of elections and democracy was kept up as a charade; finally both of them fell foul of the their national judiciary to ensure their drastic actions against the judges. Like Pervez Musharraf, Alberto Ken’ya Fujimore disbanded the countries’ judiciary more than once.
Musharraf has literally played havoc with the country’s legal system and that of its political institutions, its constitution, rights of women and of minorities with the liberty of hundreds if not thousands of its citizens. However his demeaning humiliation of the nation’s judiciary, the chief justice on the realm and with the legal community has earned him the abysmal degradation in the eyes of the rest of the world.
In the face of a sweeping rebuff in the elections from the two parties and their leadership that he tried to illegally keep out of the country the president has still not given up his determination to allow the nation to carry on its evolution to a road towards constitutionalism He seems poised all the time to not show simple prudence, which may not come easily to the erstwhile general, as he keeps on insisting on remaining in office without willingly permitting the deposed judges to get back into their offices in a dignified manner.
In 1990, an unknown candidate named Alberto Fujimori rode a wave of support led by the local army to become the president of Peru. He fought an all-out war on terror against the guerrilla organisation Shining Path, and won. Because of his “war on terror”, he got all the support that was needed in terms of funds and influence from Washington and other major Western countries. Then he became the supreme commander of the army while not being even a soldier. For almost eight years, like Musharraf, he ruled the country in absolute dictatorship until the judges started to get restive. He thereupon dismissed the judges, at least twice en block! Then democratic forces took control. His handpicked judges began to assert their newly found independence.
Ten years later from his ascendancy into power, he stood accused of kidnapping, murder and corruption; he fled from Peru to Japan, where he lived in exile for four years. A Peruvian Supreme Court judge convicted Fujimori of abuse of authority and sentenced him to six years in prison just two years ago in the first criminal conviction for Fujimori, who also faces human rights and corruption charges. Supreme Court Justice Pedro Guillermo Urbina declared Fujimori guilty of abusing his power for ordering an illegal search as his government imploded in scandal seven years ago. He also fined Fujimori the equivalent of $134,900 The former president was convicted of having a military aide serve as a prosecutor and search without a warrant the luxury apartment of the wife of his spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos in November 2000.
It was the first prison sentence handed down for Fujimori, 69, who ruled Peru from 1990 to 2000, before fleeing to Japan, his ancestral homeland, as his government collapsed. He faced three other trials on charges that include murder, kidnapping and corruption. He faced up to thirty years in prison if convicted for his alleged role in the killings, which came amid a government crackdown on a bloody Maoist insurgency. However he got bailed out by another judge after which he fled the country for Japan.
The extraordinary tale of now fugitive former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori took a strange twist in November 2005 when he arrived unexpectedly in Chile. Wanted on 21 Peruvian and Interpol warrants for corruption, murder and human rights abuses, Fujimori had remained free courtesy of the Japanese government, which had welcomed him as a prodigal son in 2000 and subsequently blocked his extradition. Then, almost five years to the day after he fled Peru for Japan and faxed his resignation from the presidency – a getaway seen by many Peruvians as both shameless and traitorous – Fujimori appeared in Chile on a tourist visa, vowing to return to Peru to run for president in April 2006. Instead he was promptly arrested, and is now fighting extradition. Peru’s National Election Board formally rejected his bid on January 10, 2006.
The list of wrongdoings against Musharraf “prima facie” would be very long and clearly more diversified than the delicts framed against Alberto Fujimore; just to give the high points of an impeachment would be the following substantive wrong doings:
” Subversion of the constitution as envisaged by Article 6 thereof
” Murder of many political leaders such as Nawab Akbar Bugti
” Abuse of administrative powers of various kinds during tenure leading to the infliction of injury to a number of persons
” Sabotaging the rights of liberty of citizens by forced disappearances of hundreds of people
” Unlawful; detention of many lawyers without an accusation of any kind
” Usurping the rights of people though deprivation of their constitutional and international human rights
” Squandering of national funds by his lavish expenses on his own lifestyle in which the most recent was his stay in London after the Davos meeting. It is pertinent to also articulate that Musharraf is also prima facie guilty of many international wrongs and delicts.
For his abusing the judiciary the list of his wrongs is really chilling! Initially when Zafar Ali Shah case was on in which his initial coup was challenged, he dismissed on January 25, 2000 Chief Justice Siddique along with six senior most judges of the Supreme Court, all from Sindh, to be replaced by Justice Irshad Hasan Khan who went on to serve the general faithfully for the next many years.
Against the set of judges who constituted the nations Supreme Court after that terrible period beginning with 2000 his actions since March 2007 have brought worldwide infamy to this country. An indictment for violation of Article 6 could easily be grounded on the following specifics:
” That on March 9, 2007, as the then COAS, Musharraf, attacked the independence of the judiciary by illegally using the state machinery to criminally intimidate, threaten and assault the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, so as to illegally force him to resign from his office
” That on refusal to succumb to the illegal pressure and subjugate the independence of the judiciary, the chief justice was taken into custody and kept in illegal confinement and house arrest with the other members of the family for more than two weeks
” That General Musharraf publicly confessed and regretted the illegal and wrongful restraint and confinement
” That on July 20, 2007 a thirteen member bench of the Supreme Court honourably restored Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry as the Chief Justice of Pakistan and held that the allegations in the “reference” were malafide, illegal and unconstitutional. It is important to note that the evidence relating to the purported allegations in the “reference” had been withdrawn and the lawyers representing General Musharraf and the federation tendered apologies before the Supreme Court and the Bench of the Supreme Court imposed a fine of Rs 100,000 against the federal government
” That solely for his personal ends, General Musharraf committed high treason on November 3, 2007, when taking manifest unconstitutional advantage of his position as the COAS and issued an illegal and unconstitutional Proclamation of Emergency and a PCO
” That he conspired to bring the army into disrepute merely for his personal goals
” That he attacked the very foundations of the independence of the judiciary yet again and the integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan as well
” That on November 3, 2007 a seven-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by the CJ suspended the Proclamation and the PCO. The authorities were restrained not to act in pursuance of the Proclamation of the PCO and held any act performed there under as illegal and unconstitutional
” That General Musharraf, taking advantage of being the COAS and in flagrant violation of his oath as a member of the armed forces, criminally abused his authority by taking control of the Supreme Court in the evening of November 3, 2007 through the law enforcement agencies. The chief justice and other judges, except five, who agreed to collaborate in this heinous crime, were taken into custody. The acts and omissions are also contempt of the Supreme Court. This also is contempt of the Supreme Court’s order dated November 3, 2007.
How much can we fall in the sense of ethical proprieties after this miserable conduct against the chief justice of the realm? There seems to be a pattern that stark dictatorship is mostly the product in many third world nations essentially by the overtures of super powers through pliable mercenaries. During the Second Great War they were referred to sometimes as “quislings” after the notorious person of this name from Scandinavia who sold his soul and nation to the Nazis. But as soon as the populations and masses get the requisite opportunity, they begin the process of ousting such yokes of foreign domination. I therefore feel that the time has arrived when justice and morality must witness its final verdict in Pakistan on a sordid drama of intrigue, public corruption and downright treason to produce the verdict of history and people’s justice.
The writer is barrister at law (UK), attorney at law (US), senior advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan and professor Harvard University
Source: The Nation, 11/6/2008