Pakistani parliament to decide on Musharraf’s fate: PM

Dubai, Aug 31 ( Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Monday that parliament would decide whether or not former president Pervez Musharraf should be tried for tampering with the constitution and sacking the Supreme Court judges after imposing an emergency in November 2007.

Gilani made the remarks while speaking to reporters during a visit here, Online news agency reported.

Earlier this month, Gilani said “we should do what is doable” on the Musharraf trial. He urged the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to stop playing to the gallery on the issue.

His reasoning was that the trial could commence only if there was unanimity in parliament on the issue, an indication that religious parties like the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) might not come on board.

However, in a front-paged story August 21, The News daily said that Gilani “was actually alluding to those unwritten assurances provided to Musharraf by the ruling coalition, the military leadership and Pakistan’s trusted international friends in the week that followed his resignation from the office on Monday, August 18, last year”.

It cited multiple sources “with direct knowledge of what happened in the corridors of power” Aug 11-18 last year as saying that the deal that finally saw Musharraf’s departure was cobbled together by top leaders of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), including President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani, army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, US Ambassador Anne W. Patterson, Britain’s special envoy to Pakistan Mark Lyall Grant and an emissary of the Saudi Arabian king.

“The bottom line of this deal was to grant Pervez Musharraf a graceful departure from the presidency with guarantees that there would no impeachment or court proceedings against him in future,” said a senior official with direct knowledge of what happened in the decisive week.

“There is no guarantee of what happens to Musharraf in the distant future, but the deal promises no official disgrace for Musharraf under the present government,” the official added.

Notwithstanding the deal, The News said senior PPP leaders seem convinced that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s growing pressure on the government to file sedition charges against Musharraf were actually a political attempt by his PML-N to pitch the PPP government against the army.

“Mian saheb, we (the PPP) have had enough of confrontation with the army and have given enough of sacrifices, this time please excuse us now, you go ahead and do the job,” the newspaper quoted Zardari as telling Sharif during a meeting in July.

The newspaper also noted that units from all three military services gave Musharraf “a final salute before a warm send-off by three services chiefs and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee that followed his historic resignation speech”.

“This was all very carefully choreographed to give a message to the nation and the world that no military rebuke was attached to Musharraf’s departure after nine years in the presidency,” a senior security official was quoted as saying.

The Islamabad police had Aug 10 registered a criminal case against Musharraf following the orders of Islamabad Additional Sessions Judge Mohammad Akmal Khan.

Khan was acting on a petition filed by advocate Mohammad Aslam Ghuman who sought action against Musharraf for ordering the confinement of the Supreme Court judges after declaring an emergency November 3, 2007.

The FIR states that Musharraf and others had detained the Supreme Court judges and their families at their houses and their children were neither allowed to attend school nor permitted to appear in examinations.

The Supreme Court had July 29 ruled that the declaration of emergency was unconstitutional and illegal.