ISLAMABAD: Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who is facing a slew of court cases, has broken his silence on his exit from the country on health grounds, saying that former army chief Gen (retd) Raheel Sharif had ‘helped him out’.
The strongman of yesteryear also spilled the beans on his differences with Nawaz Sharif which had led to the military coup of Oct 1999. “Sharif wanted me to sack two major generals,” Musharraf told a private news channel in an interview. “That was the basis of my differences with him [Sharif].”
How did Gen Raheel help Musharraf?
“Unfortunately, one has to say it, but shouldn’t have to… our judiciary should move towards justice,” said the former military ruler, who is now living in self-exile. “These courts work under pressure behind the scenes and then give rulings. The army chief had a role to play in releasing the pressure behind the scenes.”
“He [Gen Raheel] did help me and I am grateful… he helped me out because the cases are politically motivated, they [govt] put me on the ECL (Exit Control List], they turned it into a political issue.”
The Prime Minister House was quick to issue a rebuttal. A spokesperson ‘categorically denied’ the claim that differences between Premier Sharif and Musharraf had started when the former told him to remove two serving major generals. “The statement is utterly baseless, malicious, untrue and concocted. No such issue was discussed between the two,” he added.
Strangely however, the spokesperson did not comment on Musharraf’s claim that Gen (retd) Raheel had helped him fly abroad.
Musharraf’s lead counsel Barrister Farogh Naseem was also taken aback by his client’s claim. “There is no truth in it [Musharraf’s claim],” he told The Express Tribune. “I have represented him in cases in the Sindh High Court and the Supreme Court, which heard the cases on merit. As far as Gen (retd) Raheel is concerned, he earned repute and respect due to his non-political approach. Dragging him into an unnecessary controversy is inappropriate.”
Supreme Court Bar Association President Rasheed A Rizvi urged the apex court to take notice of Musharraf’s statement. “Maligning key state institutions like the superior judiciary, Pakistan Army and federal government is something very serious. It’s an outright contempt of court. The honourable court should take notice.”
Opposition leader Khursheed Shah chose to castigate the government. “Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar never spares an opportunity to ridicule the PPP leadership in the most bizarre manner… But ever since Musharraf has made the revelations, he [Nisar] is silent because the issue involves the security establishment — the grey area, you know…”
Shah demanded that all those named by Musharraf in his interview come clean on the issue. “Apart from the judiciary and the military establishment, the onus of responsibility also lies with the government which had started high treason proceedings against Musharraf. At the time, the interior minister told a news conference that the ex-military ruler had been allowed to fly aboard due to health reasons.”
Shah threw a challenge to Premier Sharif and Nisar. “I dare you to bring Musharraf back and pursue treason trial against him till he is punished. If not, then stop intimidating the opposition parties like PPP using coercive tactics to get us follow your terms [on given issues]”
PTI’s Regional President Zar Gul Khan said Musharraf’s allegations were very serious. “It is a charge-sheet against state institutions. The government, the judiciary, and the military authorities should come clean on the issue and bring Musharraf back to Pakistan to defend himself in the treason trial.”
PML-N Chairman Raja Zafarul Haq dismissed the allegations of Musharraf who, according to him, was ‘politically irrelevant’. “He can’t help hurling wild allegations against state institutions to attract public attention. What is the point in stirring a useless controversy stemming from fabricated, malicious, and totally made up insinuations? He is out of his mind. The stigma of being a traitor is too much for him to act sanely,” Haq told The Express Tribune.
Asked if the government would bring him back to face treason trial, Haq said: “We [govt] have the will and capability to bring him back and that will happen sooner or later.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 21st, 2016.