PPP, JUI-F in Senate support return of Pervez Musharraf; JI opposes
ISLAMABAD ( Web News )
Speculations regarding the return of former president general (retd) Pervez Musharraf to Pakistan due to his “frail” health echoed in the Senate of Pakistan on Wednesday as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle expressed their opinions on Musharraf’s homecoming.
The former army chief, who ruled Pakistan for nine years, made the headlines again, after he had expressed his wish to spend his remaining years in Pakistan. The sources close to the ex-chief had said that Musharraf wanted to move to Pakistan at the earliest. His family said it was impossible for him to recover.
The report was followed by a statement by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif wherein he urged the PML-N government to allow the dictator to come back. It may be noted here that Musharraf had come to power after toppling the government of Nawaz Sharif.
Similarly, the Pakistan Army spokesperson expressed support for the return of the former chief during in an interview with a private TV channel on Tuesday.
Starting the debate, Jamaat-i-Islami Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, referring to reports of bringing back Musharraf, said, “There are talks regarding allowing Musharraf to come back to Pakistan…Mian Nawaz Sharif has also issued a statement…The country and the Constitution suffered grave injustice but our hands are tired…we are practically slaves.”
He recalled that Musharraf was the absolute ruler of Pakistan for 10 years. He “abrogated the Constitution, attacked the judiciary… a former chief justice was dragged by his hair,” the JI lawmaker said.
The Peshawar High Court (PHC) ruling is there, he said referring to a ruling by the late PHC Chief Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth. Justice Seth had sentenced Musharraf to death in a treason case.
He asserted that if Musharraf was brought back to the country, then the doors of the prisons should also be opened and courts should be closed because the judiciary “won’t be needed”.
During the session of the Senate on Wednesday, most lawmakers were sympathetic to the plea. PPP leader and former prime minister Makhdoom Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani said if Musharraf wanted to come back then Pakistan is his home and added that “they do not oppose” his return.
However, he added that a similar treatment should be meted out to others as well. The PPP senator said, “We cannot decide [on his return] these decisions will be made elsewhere. When he flew out of the country, could you stop him…and now when he will be coming back, would you be able to stop it?” “I had forgiven Musharraf when he was still in Pakistan,” the PPP leader added.
Yousaf Raza Gillani raised a question: “Were you able to stop him when he was leaving (the country)? Will you be able to stop him from returning?” “These decisions will not be taken by us … they will be taken somewhere else,” he said.
When Musharraf was still in Pakistan, the senator went on, “I had forgiven him”. “If Pervez Musharraf wants to come back, he can. Pakistan is his home,” Gillani said, continuing that he had no issues with the former dictator’s return. “But everyone should be treated equally,” he added.
JUI-F leader Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri too endorsed his return. He added Musharraf was fighting for his life and should be allowed to come back. “It would not be appropriate to create hurdles in his return.”
PML-N Senator Irfanul Haq Siddiqui said a person on their deathbed should not be stopped from returning. “If not Pakistan, where else will he go,” he said, adding that if the law and the Constitution were strong then let them chart their course after his return. “Whatever Nawaz Sharif said was in a personal capacity. If the Constitution and the law are strong, let them chart the path.” “If not Pakistan, where else will Musharraf go,” he further stated, adding that if a man was “on his death bed”, would he not even be allowed to return to his homeland.
Senator Mian Raza Rabbani agreed that Musharraf had committed several atrocities. “But if his health is not good and he wants to return to the country, there is no problem.” He, however, pointed out that he could not talk on behalf of his party. “Things are very different when a person has been convicted by a court under Article 6 of the Constitution (high treason). It would be very inappropriate to give a state burial to such a person,” the PPP leader added.
Meanwhile, PTI Senator Ejaz Chaudhary called for the law to run its course. “Pervez Musharraf or whoever went out of the country for treatment should come back and the law should then take due course.
The country, he added, would only grow if the rule of law was equal for all.
JUI-F leader Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri also highlighted that the retired general was fighting for his life at the moment and it wouldn’t be fair to stop him from returning to Pakistan. “Even Nawaz Sharif left the country for medical treatment,” he added. Abdul Ghafoor Haideri too endorsed his return. He added Musharraf was fighting for his life and should be allowed to come back. “It would not be appropriate to create hurdles in his return.”