ISLAMABAD - Two key men of security detail of former President Pervez Musharraf have recently got multiple visas for the United States as his close aide indicates his team is gearing up for a foreign sojourn, possibly across the Atlantic.
The two security aides who were part of the security team of Musharraf when he was president and the army chief at the same time took retirement from the army and remained associated with him ever since. “The two men got five-year multiple visas of the United States last month. They are an integral part of the security crew of the former president, who sacrificed their career a few years back to be in the team of their former army chief,” an official in knowledge of the developments said.
“Musharraf will not escape, but leave the country through proper court procedure,” he asserted on condition of anonymity, adding the former military ruler was not ready to agree to any permanent exile agreement or any escape route. Musharraf’s former political aides and politicians with strong military links have recently jumped into the array to manage an honourable exit for him, warning at the same time that in case the trial continued, it could bring disastrous consequences for the incumbent government under Premier Sharif.
The PML-N leadership under Sharif is extra cautious this time around after going through the 1999 military coup led by Musharraf who overthrew Nawaz Sharif, imprisoned him in many cases and, finally, sent him to exile in Saudi Arabia.
Musharraf who is facing a high treason trial in a special court after returning to Pakistan early last year has been under treatment at Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) since early January for multiple ailments. Ever since he has been under house arrest; appeared before courts and has been bailed out in high-profile cases against him. He has yet to appear before the three-member special court. His lawyers’ team in the treason trial lately came up with a medical report by AFIC doctors, which diagnosed nine ailments the former general is suffering from. The report, however, didn’t suggest any major heart disease. But a US-based doctor has recently sent a note, produced by Musharraf’s team in the special court, suggesting that the former president was facing a risk of a heart attack and should be allowed to proceed to a foreign hospital (in America). The special court will make a decision on January 24 whether to allow the former military strongman a foreign medical treatment in the light of recommendations of the AFIC medical board.
Meanwhile, the sources close to the kitchen cabinet of the Sharif, suggest that the opinion is divided in the government camp about the way to give an exit to Musharraf. The hawks in the Sharif camp still insist that an assurance should be sought from Musharraf through foreign guarantors that he will not return to Pakistan for several years to indulge in politics.
The doves are suggesting Sharif to get rid of this issue without waste of time and not to oppose Musharraf’s exit through a proper procedure of the court. Some aides close to Premier Sharif have also explained at length to the leadership the uneasiness in the lower cadres of the armed forces as the trial progresses. “The top ranks may be quiet and calm, but we should not ignore uneasiness in the lower ranks of the disciplined outfits Musharraf commanded in his career,” an official said on condition of anonymity, adding the foreign governments, especially Saudi Arabian, might have distanced themselves from the Musharraf case on the face of it, but they have given their mind to Premier Sharif through a strong advice to get rid of this issue at the earliest.