Ruling party confused over Musharraf’s concession

 03 Apr 2014 - 7:22


ISLAMABAD: An overwhelming majority within the PML-N is reported to be against allowing former president retired General Pervez Musharraf to travel to the UAE to see his ailing mother and get treatment for his own heart ailment.
A party source privy to an intense meeting of the PML-N’s top leadership held at the Prime Minister Office yesterday to discuss the issue said that only a few were in favour of lifting the travel ban on the former army chief, who was indicted by the Special Court on Monday for high treason.
The media wing of the PM Office remained silent over the meeting, which was presided over by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
It was attended, among others, by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Defense Minister Khwaja Asif, Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Minister for States and Frontier Region retired Lt Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch.
According to the source, the meeting lasted about three hours and witnessed some cogent arguments. The prime minister remained tight-lipped throughout the huddle and patiently listened to his party’s senior colleagues. He exhorted the participants to speak their mind over the issue.
Although in minority, the ones who spoke in favour of accepting Musharraf’s application seeking removal of his name from the exit control list (ECL) argued that after his formal indictment, the first in country’s history, the PML-N had achieved its stated goal of putting the dictator on trial and now allowing him to see his ailing mother would further bring good name to the party.
“Our plate is already full of pressing issues such as militancy, energy crisis and a fragile economy. Therefore, it’s better to pay full attention to them instead of getting bogged down in the trial of Musharraf,” the source quoted a party leader as saying.
After the Special Court put the ball in the government’s court, “We should give Gen Musharraf relief on pure humanitarian ground and take due credit for that,” the leader added.
In its short order, the court had asked the former military ruler to seek his travel restrictions removed from the government because the matter did not fall under its jurisdiction.
The government had placed his name on ECL in response to a Supreme Court order issued on April 8 last year.
The three-judge Special Court ruled that Musharraf was free to travel both inside and outside the country. And the ones who were in majority and against the lifting of travel ban said the party since October 12, 1999, when the former army chief toppled the PML-N government in a coup, had waited for this moment and, hence should firmly stick to it.
“Even if we allow him to travel abroad together with his mother on pure compassionate ground, opposition parties will cry hoarse against us for not standing our ground.”
“Some even will accuse the government of giving him permission under some foreign pressure,” the PML-N source quoted a minister as saying.