Pervez Musharraf Trial: Is Pakistan Finally Tackling Corruption?


Pakistan's former president, Pervez Musharraf, was arrested and is set to stand in front of the country's high court for his alleged crimes. This may seem like just another instance of corruption in a government that seems unfixable, but one could not be further from the truth. This arrest and trial is the beginning of a new Pakistan, a stable Pakistan.

Musharraf will likely be tried for various allege crimes including the murder of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Balochi nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti. Additionally, he is primarily being convicted for his dismissal of most of the Supreme Court after his second election in 2007 in order to instate judges that would verify his victory in the contested election.

Musharraf declared "emergency rule" in 2007 when he was quickly losing popularity in Pakistan fashioning himself as an authoritative ruler over Pakistan. He resigned from office in 2008 to avoid the risk of being impeached. Since then he was in a self-imposed exile outside of Pakistan until this year when he returned to the country.

A foolish move on his part, Musharraf returned to try and galvanize supporters for his party, the All Pakistan Muslim League. Vastly "overestimating his popularity," Musharraf was welcomed with resentment by most Pakistanis and death threats by the Taliban. He has lost almost all the power and support he once had in a country increasingly fed up with a continuously corrupt government.

The Supreme Court issued a warrant for Musharraf and arrested him on April 19. Continuing to refuse responsibility for his corrupt actions, Musharraf is blaming "segments of overzealous judiciary, unscrupulous lawyers and fictitious petitioners" in colluding to convict him. He has lost all credibility.

I do not support many Pakistanis' calls for a high treason conviction — as it comes with the death penalty — but I wholeheartedly support the court's holding Pakistani officials accountable for their actions. Pakistan's new dawn must start now with the conviction of Pervez Musharraf. This would not only unite its largely alienated citizens, but it would signal the start of a war against corruption.

Pakistan needs a war against corruption. None of its problems with the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, energy, or poverty can be resolved until there is a stable government to resolve it. I am largely against the propagation of war rhetoric in almost all instances, but a war against corruption (nonviolent of course) is how Pakistan can modernize into a country known for more than terrorist cells, cricket, and low cost labor.

Convictions for corrupt officials must not stop at Musharraf; the list of dishonesty in Pakistani government is a long one. The court must have trials for Raja Pervez Ashraf, Asif Ali Zardari, Nawaz Sharif, Yousaf Razi Gillani, just to name a few, and not let proven corruption and dishonesty get away with a slap on the wrist.

A new tide is coming in Pakistan. Its former leaders should not wait in confidence any longer; their dishonesty will be punished. The Pakistani people will know their crimes. Pakistan will no longer be dismissible by the rest of the world.