ISLAMABAD: Former president Pervez Musharraf on Sunday ruled out any request for clemency if he is convicted of treason by the special court constituted for the landmark trial.
“I will not request pardon [if convicted]… I will not opt for any solution which creates an impression that I acted out of fear,” he said in an exclusive interview with Moeed Peerzada for Express News on Sunday.
“I have no regrets… I came back to Pakistan to face cases against me and because people wanted change,” he said.
In the same breath, however, the former president said he did not expect to be charged with high treason. “Yes, you can say it was my misjudgment… I did not expect Article 6 would be thrown at me.”
Musharraf expressed regret that recently retired army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani did not support him in the face of treason charges.
“He [Kayani] was kept in the loop in pretty much all consultations – from those pertaining to internal matters to the Middle East – and he should have submitted an affidavit during proceedings of the Iftikhar Chaudhry case,” he said. “This is something he should be asked to explain.”
Speaking to reporters outside his farmhouse earlier in the day, Musharraf denounced the treason charges against him as a ‘vendetta’ and claimed he had the backing of the army in the case.
“I would say the whole army is upset. I have led the army from the front,” he said. “I have no doubt with the feedback that I received that the whole army is... totally with me on this issue.”
He said he had no objection to defending himself before a ‘fair tribunal or court’ but admitted he was not optimistic about the special panel convened to hear his case.
“The way this tribunal was formed, which involved the prime minister and the ex-chief justice, this itself smacks a little bit of a vendetta.”
Talking to Express News, Musharraf said it was strange that despite being the one ‘grieved’ by his October 12 actions, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had so far shown no interest in pursuing treason charges against him.
“He (Nawaz) is probably avoiding it because it may open a Pandora’s box for him… I was onboard a flight at the time and the action was taken on the ground,” he said.
Asked if it was improper for an elected prime minister and his colleagues to be sent to jail by the army, Musharraf replied: “Is it not improper that a flight carrying the country’s army chief is told it cannot land in Pakistan and instructed to land in India instead.”
He also refuted allegations that Nawaz and his colleagues were mistreated by the army.
“Frankly speaking, Nawaz Sharif was provided good food and all facilities in Attock Fort, and he was later shifted to an army mess… The people did not face any hardship.”
He added that the nation should not have to suffer from a ‘personal vendetta’ against the former army chief.
Justifying the state of emergency he imposed on November 3, 2007, Musharraf said he took the action in the interest of the country.
“September 11 and November 3 were the most testing times for Pakistan… The former could have led to military action against Pakistan and by the latter date, the country was heading towards a ruined economy and failure as a state.” He also accused the judiciary of ‘freeing terrorists’ at the time.
“I took the [November 3] action following a request by [then] prime minister Shaukat Aziz.” He evaded a question about who he consulted while promulgating the state of emergency, saying “everything is mentioned in the promulgation order.”
Talking about his resignation as president, Musharraf denied that the move was prompted by pressure from the judiciary.
“Yes, it was likely that I could be impeached, but I did not resign because of anything [then] chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry did,” he said, adding, “I did not want to serve as a useless president.”
Musharraf said he launched the Lal Masjid operation after being incited by a journalist at a National Defence University event. He said although he did not regret supporting a strong media, his only complaint was that some people in the industry were ‘trying to prove a wrong thing right’.
Musharraf lashes out at Zardari
Responding to a recent statement by former president Asif Ali Zardari, Musharraf said people should look into who benefitted the most from Benazir Bhutto’s death.
In his speech at an event commemorating the death of Benazir Bhutto on Friday, Zardari – while referring to Musharraf as a ‘tomcat’ – said: “A tomcat has been trapped today and should not be allowed to go free.”
Zardari also said the military had benefitted from tussles between politicians.
“Which ‘tomcat’ drank the most milk after Benazir’s death… that is the question to be considered,” Musharraf said in his interview with Express News. He accused Zardari of trying to orchestrate a confrontation between the government and the military.
On Nawaz’s offer
Referring to Prime Minister Nawaz’s offer to airlift his ailing mother to Pakistan, Musharraf said he would not ask the government to do anything.
“I know how to take care of my mother… whatever I do, I shall do so on my own… I will not beg the government for anything.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2013.
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