Selective prosecution and Article 6

There was reasonable debate on whether Musharraf – a victim of selective prosecution – can or should be tried for treason under Article 6 of the Constitution of Pakistan. He was technically a legitimate President of the country at the time he imposed the 2007 emergency (his rule authenticated by Supreme Court in 1999). The proposition to try him was marred by suspicion of bias and personal vendetta on the government’s part (ousted by him in 1999) and on part of the Supreme Court (headed by the prime victim of his 2007 emergency). On the other hand trying him to create a deterrent for any future military adventurist and punishing him for his alleged autocratic rule, were given as pros of the trial. Fact remains that the question whether Article 6 was attracted or not remains a controversial one. Nevertheless the trial was initiated because apparent ‘popular will’ demanded so.

What about cases where Article 6 is not vague at all? Why can’t the same Article be attracted in cases of Taliban sympathizers/supporters?

Article 6 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973, states;

“High treason.—

1[(1) Any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or holds in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance, the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason.]

(2) Any person aiding or abetting 2[or collaborating] the acts mentioned in clause (1) shall likewise be guilty of high treason.

The Taliban have openly challenged Pakistan’s system of government, along with our faith in Allah and our allegiance to Islam. They vehemently propagate against not just our constitution but also our citizens and state institutions. They are, in all meanings of the phrase, “attempting” and “conspiring” to “subvert” and “abrogate” our constitution by “use” and “show of force”.

And so our state and government have openly declared them as enemies of the State. But what about those who are “aiding” and “abetting” the Taliban’s evil designs? I am not talking about the alleged role of India or the CIA, I am referring to the militant or religious organizations/parties within Pakistan – headed and followed by the citizens of Pakistan – who have openly spoken in Taliban’s favor. Some have publicly agreed with their agenda while members of their organization have even gone to the extent of releasing videos in support of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria: A religious/militant organization with an agenda similar to Taliban) and Taliban.

Why is there even a speck of doubt in the minds of our government that these aiders and abettors fall within the ambit of Article 6 (2)? Is the reluctance to bring such aiders within the grasp of Article 6 is owing to cowardice or hypocrisy? Or is it a legal lacuna that is beyond my understanding? In latter case, I would welcome any apt and competent legal mind to explain why Article 6 does not apply – and is not being used – to try those who support the enemies of Pakistan.


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