Musharraf may never be brought on trial


Islamabad : Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf may have been booked for illegally detaining Supreme Court judges but he never may be brought on trial going by what Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told parliament and new revelations about the deal struck under which he quit last year.

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“We should do what is doable,” Gilani said in the National Assembly Wednesday, even as he urged the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) not to play to the gallery on the issue of Musharraf’s trial.

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.

On one level, The News daily said in an editorial Friday, Gilani’s statement “in some ways at least indicates a willingness to demonstrate the maturity in politics Pakistan so desperately needs”.

“There is certainly an argument that says at this moment in time, more than anything else, Pakistan needs stability and a process of looking beyond its present problems towards the future,” the editorial added.

However, in a front-paged story, The News said that Gilani “was actually alluding to those unwritten assurances provided to the former military ruler from the ruling coalition, 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 quoted 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 Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leaders, 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,” a senior official with direct knowledge of what happened in the decisive week said.

“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 last month.

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

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