LAHORE/ISLAMABAD - A media report Saturday claimed former Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira as seconding ex-PM Yousaf Raza Gilani’s assertion that PML-N was part of a deal to grant military president Pervez Musharraf safe exit upon his resignation.

But Kaira, who was information minister in the last PPP government, told The Nation that there was no such deal or agreement of political parties with the establishment, though an informal consensus did exist in August 2008 that Musharraf will be given safe exit if he would quit the office of president.

Taking a U-turn within 24 hours about the alleged deal on the issue, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Farhatullah Babar while talking to The Nation also made it clear on Saturday that there had been no such deal under which Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) committed to granting Musharraf a free ticket.

Only a day before, on Friday, former PPP PM Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani had said that General President Musharraf had resigned after striking a deal that he would be given a safe exit and that the deal was struck between the establishment and main political parties including PPP and PML-N. The PPP vice chairman had also urged Nawaz government to honour that agreement and refrain from perusing cases against the military strongman.

Talking to The Nation here on Saturday Kaira said that when impeachment move against Pervez Musaharraf was under process at the level of Gilani government, all parties including PML-N, ANP, JUI-F and others were consulted and their input was secured.

At that time no party had objected to Musharraf’s decision of stepping down and leaving the country since no criminal case was pending against him at that time. There was a sort of understanding among all that he would be let go abroad if he would opt for it since he was not required in any criminal case which could prompt action against him, he added.

However, Kaira said there was no question of any deal or agreement with the establishment in the whole process, though a consensus was there not to check Musharraf’s way abroad. He said at that time, Musharraf as president wielded power of 58(b) of the Constitution and the Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar was in place and it was the proper course which the then government adopted taking along all other parties.

PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar told The Nation, “There was no deal with anyone about the so-called safe passage to Gen Musharraf. A committee of senior leaders of both PML-N and PPP had been set up to prepare the charges-heet to impeach Gen Musharraf in the Parliament.” He said two major parties, the PPP and PML-N (which were initially also aligned in the coalition government), together drafted the chargesheet.

The PPP senator said he was also part of that committee. Other members were Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal of PML-N, and Raza Rabbani, Sherry Rehman of PPP. “If you see media record of those days, you will find press statements by members of the committee on the work it was doing,” the PPP leader added.

He said the committee finalised a comprehensive chargesheet against Musharraf for impeachment proceedings in the Parliament under Article 47 of the constitution. “A copy of the impeachment chargesheet is still available,” he added. He said that almost simultaneously all provincial assemblies also passed unanimous resolutions one after the other calling for the impeachment of Musharraf.

“At that point the stage was set to convey to Gen Musharraf a sombre message through one of his (Musharraf’s) confidants that homework and teamwork to impeach him has been completed and there was no going back... That must have been the sternest message Gen Musharraf could ever have imagined receiving,” he informed.

“Musarraf was doomed to be impeached in what would have been the first of its kind in Pakistan,” said the spokesman of the former President Asif Ali Zardari, adding that it seems the former president understood that only a miracle could save him from imminent and sure impeachment. And he finally chose to resign and leave the country.

“Whether it was a deft move by the political parties to orchestrate pressure on him to resign and go into exile or it was shrewdness of Musharraf to read the writing on the wall and escape impeachment by resigning is a matter of opinion and only of academic interest,” the PPP senator further commented. He said it was important now that there was no deal with anyone and Musharraf seeing his fate as totally sealed resigned from the post of president.

Earlier in the day on Saturday, a media report claimed Kaira endorsing Gilani’s assertion on the alleged deal. According to media report, Kaira said that Mian Nawaz Sharif was also part of that deal and he posed a query that if Nawaz Sharif was not on board and part of the deal why did the PML-N not frame case against him and let the court perform that job.

Former Military President is presently facing high treason charges for his November 3, 2007 act of declaring emergency and brining in PCO for fresh oath of the superior court judges. He detained the judges who were not of his liking and were likely to disqualify him in the election contest for his second term as president in military uniform.

Gilani told the media on Friday that the present case against Musharraf wants in justification as under an agreement with the Establishment then PPP government and the main Opposition PML-N were one on allowing Musharraf leave the country if he would quit and they would not institute any criminal case against him. The PML-N has strongly rebuffed Gilani’s assertion.