LAHORE - Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf has consistently been saying that he will face all cases instituted against him. His lawyers argue that the former president-COAS had come to Pakistan to get himself exonerated so that he could move in or out of the country as a free man.
But at the same time, Musharraf is not appearing before the special court, constituted to decide the high treason case against him. And unless he appears before the bench, gets indicted and then effectively refutes the charge against him, he can’t get himself cleared.
In this situation there are speculations that he is going abroad – though on the pretext of medical treatment. This apparently means that some political deal is being discussed at some level. Or, perhaps, the defence lawyers expect some positive outcome from the review petition against the Supreme Court’s order, which was made the basis of the treason case.
In case the review petition is ultimately accepted, the treason case will come to an end. But if the impugned order is upheld, which is the only other possibility, then it will become easier for the prosecution to prove the charge against Musharraf, which is punishable with death sentence or life imprisonment.
These are the only two factors which carry a ray of hope for the defence team and on which hinges the future of the man who ruled the country for about nine years, till he had to step down under public pressure.
For the time being, both the government and the defence lawyers deny that any political deal is being discussed at any level.
As for the outcome of the review petition, it will become clear in the days ahead.
Although the government rules out the possibility of allowing Gen Musharraf to leave the country and also denies that any foreign country is playing any role in rescuing him, the matter had come under discussion during the recent visit of the Saudi foreign minister to Pakistan. (A senior journalist having very strong links with the government had reported that the matter was discussed, although the Saudi dignitary did not seek release of Gen Musharraf).
It is said that Saudi Arabia will mediate at a time when there is a threat to Gen Musharraf’s life. At the time, it will play the same role which it had played to rescue Mian Nawaz Sharif in 2000.
Those insisting that even the most serious diseases can be treated in Pakistan conveniently forget that Mr Sharif had only blood pressure problem, for the treatment of which he was flown to Jeddah. (The problems of the other family members who accompanied him are not known even today).
In spite of what is happening in courts or what the government’s plans, there is little possibility of Gen Musharraf going to the gallows, even if the charge against him is proved. This scribe has reason to say this.
After 2008 elections, Musharraf was still the president that the PPP and the PML-N started pressure on him to quit.
A presidential aide told this scribe then (which was reported for the newspaper the writer was then working for) that in case any serious problem was created for the general, Saudi Arabia, US and China would play their role and the attitude of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement would change radically. The report was interpreted by critics as an over-assessment by then president.
Musharraf had to give in to pressure. After stepping down, he stayed in the country for several months before leaving for London, where he has his own residence.
He stayed abroad for about five years before deciding to return to Pakistan, hoping that he would provide the country with an alternative leadership after the perceived failure of both the major parties to deliver.
Since there was no threat to his life, there was no need for any country to mediate. The MQM also enjoyed power for full five years as partner with the PPP.
But the attitude of the MQM appears to have changed now. Altaf Hussain could not have done more. He expressed the strongest possible support to Musharraf when he said that a Mohajir leader was being singled out for trial. He also demanded that all those who were with Gen Musharraf at the time of the imposition of emergency in November 2007 should also be put on trial.
The MQM chief, who has been living in London since 1992, also demanded that proceedings against Musharraf should first be started for his October 12, 1999 takeover, and all those who had validated the military intervention or taken oath under the PCO should also be taken to task.
Is it not sufficient evidence that the MQM will stand by the former military ruler in case he is singled out?
Mr Ahmed Raza Kasuri’s visit to Nine Zero to thank the MQM for its support to Gen Musharraf will certainly encourage the party to play its role in future as well.