ISLAMABAD - General (r) Pervez Musharraf treason trial episode took a new, yet anticipated, turn on Tuesday with a top defence official jumping into the fray in a bid to dissociate the military from the entire saga.
“It is extremely surprising why speculations are on about the military’s involvement in this case,” said Defence Secretary Lt-Gen (r) Asif Yasin Malik in a brief and candid interaction with media people Tuesday. The secretary was leaving for the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Rawalpindi, after attending a scheduled session of National Assembly Standing Committee on Defence at the Parliament House when several journalists raised a set of queries, all concerning the former dictator.
The defence secretary spoke about the treason trial case against Pervez Musharraf in the Special Court to which a medical report on Musharraf’s treatment at Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC), Rawalpindi, was submitted. The four-page report, prepared by AFIC Commandant Maj-Gen Syed Muhammad Imran Majeed, recommended coronary angiography of Pervez Musharraf to “optimise the management and to ascertain the possibility of further interventions like coronary artery bypass surgery.”
In his Tuesday’s interaction with journalists, Defence Secretary Asif Yasin Malik attempted to mince words when asked about Musharraf’s possible fate. Passing the buck on the judiciary, he said, “The matter is pending with the court. It’s for the court to decide the case, which is the rightful and authorised platform to do so.”
The secretary, however, added, “I wonder why speculative reports keep running in the media about this issue. I come across so many news items that suggest that the military is behind him (Musharraf). Pakistan Army has nothing to do with this whole episode. As I said the matter is with the court, let the court decide on it.”
Malik further said, “When courts are civilians, a trial is conducted by civilians and there are civilians everywhere (dealing with the matter), there’s absolutely no room and possibility for the military’s role whatsoever.”
Seen as the military establishment’s perspective on the Musharraf issue, the secretary’s viewpoint came against the backdrop of intense purported discussions within the top military ranks on devising the army’s response. Lately, the military top bosses were discussing whether to issue a formal statement on the treason trial episode or informally brief journalists on the issue.
Pressure was mounting on the military to speak on Musharraf’s trial after the ex-army chief had claimed in televised interviews that he had full backing of Pakistan Army, which, he said, was deeply concerned over his trial. The same issue was discussed in the corps commanders’ conference last week.
The defence secretary also dispelled the impression that Musharraf had gone into hiding in the AFIC. “Everybody knows AFIC has the best heart physicians. It is one of the best hospitals for cardiac treatment. He is being treated there and doctors are taking good care of him,” he remarked.
Meanwhile, a meeting of NA Standing Committee on Defence was held under the chairmanship of Sheikh Rohail Asghar to discuss Cantonment Laws (Amendments) Bill 2013 and Surveying and Mapping Ordinance 2013. Senior officials at MoD, Military Lands & Cantonments (ML&Cs) and Survey of Pakistan appeared before the panel to give related briefings.
The Supreme Court is hearing a case regarding delay in local government elections in the cantonment boards and its proceedings were also held Tuesday.