ISLAMABAD: The Government of Pakistan is said to be under unprecedented pressure from the rulers of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to pave the way for a safe, secure and honourable homecoming for former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf.
They are also said to have asked Islamabad to initiate steps to build a favourable political image of the former military dictator and ensure that upon his return home, he will not be harassed by court cases and the police.
According to an understanding reached between the UAE and Pakistan several months ago, it was decided that the Pakistani government would facilitate Musharraf’s return as soon as the two-year bar on his participation in politics ends, sources said. Official sources claimed that the pressure had already forced President Asif Ali Zardari to curtail his visits to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
This extraordinary interest of UAE rulers in Pakistan’s internal affairs, especially in Musharraf’s political future, was thrown into light once again due to UAE’s foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed al Nahyan’s covert visit to Islamabad within three days of the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) announcement that Musharraf has been included in the investigation of former premier Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. He spent a mere 30 minutes with President Zardari before heading back home but, immediately after his visit, Interior Minister Rehman Malik told the media that the government did not intend to question Musharraf. Rehman, on November 27, categorically said that the government had not taken any decision to include Musharraf in the probe.
Earlier, a joint investigation team of the FIA had prepared a 32-point questionnaire which was meant to be sent to the former military ruler. FIA Director-General Waseem Ahmed said that the agency wanted to record the statement of everyone who had any connection with the case.
When asked why General Musharraf was being involved in the case after the team had completed its report and submitted it to an anti-terrorism court, Ahmed said the case would remain open until all supplementary information was obtained.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 1st, 2010.