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June 13, 2018

PML-N govt’s parting doesn’t lessen Musharraf’s troubles


June 13, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Former President Pervez Musharraf’s high hopes that his woes will vanish with the departure of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government have dashed to the ground as nothing favourable has happened for him since its exit. He expected that being impartial and nonpartisan the upcoming caretaker government would deal with his cases so as to ultimately withdraw them. He anticipated that he would be allowed to have a normal life and contest the July 25 general elections.

However, what the previous administration had been deliberately avoiding to avert allegations of victimisation of Musharraf, the interim government has conveniently done – blocking of his national identity card (NIC) leading to the suspension of his passport, incapacitating him to travel.

The going is as tough as it was for the former dictator, and there are no prospects that it will ease in the near future. There are no takers of his side of the story. He doesn’t enjoy any worthwhile public support that can impact official decision-making in his favour. A text message and repeated calls to the cell number of Dr Amjad, Secretary General of Musharraf’s All Muslim League, by The News to get his version remained un-responded.

A few months before the exit of the previous government, Musharraf had shown a keen interest in immediately coming back to Pakistan after its departure saying that he would be able to get justice when its pressure on the state institutions will no more be there. He claimed that all the cases registered against him are politically motivated and the PML-N has been pursing them because of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s personal vendetta against him.

Five days ago, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar ordered that Musharraf will not be arrested if he arrives in Pakistan to file his nomination papers for the upcoming polls. “Tell Musharraf to come to Pakistan; and he will not be arrested upon his return,” he told his lawyer while hearing an appeal relating to the lifetime ban on the retired general to contest elections that was imposed by the Peshawar High Court before the 2013 parliamentary polls for promulgating emergency in November 2007.

However, the former president was not satisfied with the court order, which, he felt, should be more unambiguous and clear-cut. He wanted watertight guarantees under which he can return to Pakistan and go back abroad freely. By seeking such assurances from the chief justice, he has demonstrated great timidity, and unwillingness to face any difficult time despite being a politician now. Any coward politician is hardly able to attract any massive people’s support. Next day, the Chief Justice tried to further facilitate Musharraf’s return by directing the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) to unblock his NIC so that he could come back to face cases. “Why are you hindering the process by blocking his identity card?” he asked the Nadra chief. “Musharraf will not be arrested from the airport to the court. He should return to face the law.”

Justice Saqib Nisar did not stop here, and on the following day remarked: “Whatever obstacle Musharraf faced in returning to Pakistan has been removed. Now it is up to his audacity whether or not he comes back; he should return and show how brave he is; proceedings against him will be as per the law when he flies back.” If Musharraf doesn’t return now and there is every ostensible possibility that he will not, fearing detention in different cases being heard in courts, his politics that has hardly ever taken off will be doomed for good.

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