FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Arresting Musharraf

Pervez Musharraf, who usurped power in Pakistan on November 3, 2007 by virtue of his Proclamation of Emergency, refuses to relinquish the office of the President, an office he unlawfully occupies against the will of the people and contrary to the Constitution of Pakistan. This essay argues that if Musharraf does not voluntarily vacate the Presidency, Pakistan’s newly-elected Parliament is authorized to pass an Emergency Bill to capture him, charge him with treason, and prosecute him under Article 6(1) of the Constitution, under which: “Any person who abrogates or attempts or conspires to abrogate, subverts or attempts or conspires to subvert the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason.”

Arresting Pervez Musharraf will establish the sovereignty of the Parliament, fulfill the demands of justice, and restore the rule of law for which the judiciary and lawyers of Pakistan have paid a heavy price. Any compromise with Musharraf that keeps him in office might please foreign constituencies. But it will be lethal for democracy and constitutionality in Pakistan. Any such compromise will encourage future military coups. The time has come for Pakistan to show to the world that a fearless democracy can remove usurpers in a strong but lawful manner.

Incarceration, not Impeachment

Article 47 of the Constitution of Pakistan furnishes a procedure to impeach the President. The President is impeached if he violates the Constitution or engages in gross misconduct. The National Parliament comprised of the Senate and the Assembly investigates the charges. During the investigation, the President has the right to appear before the joint sitting of the two Houses. If, after investigation of the charges, a two-thirds majority of the Parliament passes an impeachment resolution, “the President shall cease to hold office immediately on the passing of the resolution.”

This impeachment procedure, however, presumes that the President has been duly elected according to the constitutional framework. Article 47 cannot be invoked to impeach any person who claims to be the President. Any such broad reading of Article 47 collapses the distinction between lawfully elected President and usurper who occupies Presidency through constitutional subversion. Accordingly, any impeachment proceedings against Musharraf will unwittingly concede that he lawfully holds the Presidency. Even if the impeachment proceedings succeed and Musharraf leaves office, the Article 47 procedure will have been misapplied.

Usurpers are arrested and removed. They are not investigated and impeached. Pakistan’s newly elected Parliament must not ignore this important constitutional distinction.

Usurper, not President

It might be argued that Musharraf is indeed the President of Pakistan since the outgoing electoral college of National and Provincial Parliaments elected him to the office of the President on October 6, 2007. This argument is without merit.

Recall that in October, 2007 the Pakistan Supreme Court had allowed the holding of the Presidential election. The Court ordered, however, that results of the election must not be released until the Court has first considered on merit the challenges to Musharraf’s candidacy for the office of the President. At the time, Musharraf was simultaneously holding two offices, one that of the President and the other that of the Army Chief. A panel of the Supreme Court heard the case for several weeks. Musharraf’s lawyers submitted to the Court’s jurisdiction and forcefully argued that Musharraf was qualified to contest the Presidential election.

On November 3, a day or two before the Court was to render its verdict, Musharraf engaged in preemptive self-defense and proclaimed emergency. Under the Proclamation of Emergency, thirteen judges of the Supreme Court were unlawfully fired and arrested. Unconstitutionally, a brand new Supreme Court packed with pro-Musharraf judges, was reconstituted. Musharraf took all these extra-constitutional measures to avert a possible negative Court verdict that would have disqualified him and nullified the October 6 election.

On November 3, Musharraf himself relinquished the office of the President and became the Army Chief. Recall that Musharraf suspended the Constitution in his capacity as the Army Chief, not President. Furthermore, by subverting the Constitution and unlawfully preempting the Supreme Court verdict, Musharraf ceased to be the lawful President. Even after the restoration of the Constitution and despite a favorable decision from a rubber stamp Supreme Court, Musharraf’s occupancy of the office of the President continues to be unlawful and illegitimate. By turning the Constitution off and on at will, Musharraf cannot profit from his wrongs. From November 3 onwards, Musharraf is no longer the President but an unlawful usurper and trespasser of the office of the President.

Removal by incarceration and not impeachment is the proper constitutional treatment for usurpers.

Ali Khan is professor of law at Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas.

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail