Former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s loyalty to his party and its leadership is beyond question. He had preferred to suffer years of incarceration on concocted charges of corruption rather than to become a Musharraf patriot similar to how Faisal Saleh Hayat did after the 2002 elections along with about 10 or so other PPP MNAs in return for a few cabinet crumbs. Also, he had preferred to lose his premiership rather than write a letter to Swiss authorities on the orders of the then chief justice (CJ), Iftikhar Chaudhry, who was requesting a reinvestigation of a case of alleged money laundering charges against his party chief who was the elected president of Pakistan at the time.
That is why one was greatly puzzled when Mr Gilani, ignoring even his party chief’s famous quote (‘Billa phuns gaya hai…’), asked the government to let Musharraf go as per a deal, which according to him, Nawaz Sharif was party to, but which a number of his party colleagues and some of the PML-N leaders — who have spoken on the issue so far — claim did not exist.
Moreover, if Musharraf’s departure was part of a deal to which Gilani claims Nawaz was also a party to, then why did he not hit back quoting the deal he speaks of now instead of suffering in silence — all through the PPP’s five-year tenure — the taunts of the PML-N (which was in opposition) for having accorded Musharraf a guard of honour on his departure from the presidency following his resignation?
Most observers agree that the PML-N was on board with the then PPP administration in ousting Musharraf as far as his impeachment was concerned. The PPP on its own did not have enough votes to impeach Musharraf. So, Mr Asif Ali Zardari, who surprised his friends and foes equally by playing his hands like a consummate politician since the day he took over the party as its co-chairperson after the sad demise of the PPP chairperson, Benazir Bhutto, appears to have exploited to the hilt the spirit of Charter of Democracy to get a more-than-willing Nawaz Sharif to join hands to get rid of Musharraf.
After Musharraf’s resignation — under pressure from an imminent threat of being impeached — Zardari exploited the spirit of the NRO to provide safe passage to the former president, but not before winning for himself a lot of brownie points in the GHQ, Washington and Riyadh, as all three had wanted to see Musharraf fade out without having to go through any process of accountability for his alleged Constitutional ‘misdeeds’. Clearly, Zardari did not need any help from any other quarter, least of all from Nawaz, in finally letting Musharraf fly out of the country unscathed. In fact, if he had asked Nawaz for help at this juncture, the former would have advised him to have the man arrested and institute a treason case under Article 6 of the Constitution against him post-haste.
So, as far as everyone and their aunts were concerned, Musharraf’s chapter had ended on the day he left the country after receiving his last guard of honour. But when he came back home on the eve of 2013 general elections, reportedly against the advice of his former institution and many of his well-wishers and even his close family, the then PPP government and perhaps even his former institution, may have felt embarrassed not knowing how to handle the not-very-favourable reception he was being accorded by the superior judiciary, which at that time was being led by Musharraf’s nemesis, the former Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Chaudhry. And then what followed was not unexpected. The former CJ, before his retirement, saw to it that his tormentor is entangled in all kinds of cases, including on treason charges.
This is where Musharraf’s story stands today. His fate is in the hands of the courts. And even if there had existed a deal to let him go scot-free, to which Gilani claims Nawaz was a party to, there is no way the former can honour this ‘deal’ without inviting the wrath of the superior judiciary.
So, what is Mr Gilani up to? Why has he introduced seemingly a totally pointless but potentially a highly inter-party and intra-party controversial element in our current political thermosphere? Reads like a 64,000 dollar question!
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2014.
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