Pakistan Analyst Examines UK Foreign Office Role in Musharraf Exit
Text of article headlined “Glacier melts from the top” by Pakistani newspaper The Nation website on 21 August
[by Dr Naeem Chishti, practising solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales]
According to the BBC, the British Foreign Office has admitted its role in persuading President Pervez Musharraf to resign from his office on August 18, 2008. In a statement issued in London, the British Foreign Office said that no formula was presented to the top Pakistani leadership to resolve the crisis but the British government did its best to avoid confrontation between President Musharraf and the elected government of Pakistan.
The Foreign Office gave no further details. This statement has been issued after Aitzaz Ahsan, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, lambasted Sir Mark Lyall Grant, Britain’s former High Commissioner to Pakistan, for playing his ‘dubious’ role in saving Musharraf. Ahsan alleged that Grant had indulged in such activities in Pakistan for which he would have been held responsible if he had committed in his own country.
Even before Aitzaz Ahsan condemned Sir Mark Lyall Grant for preventing Musharraf from being brought to justice for his unconstitutional and illegal actions, PML-Q [Pakistan Muslim League - Qaid-i-Azam faction] Senator Tariq Azeem had confirmed in a statement that the same people who brokered Abu Dhabi Deal between President Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto were trying to negotiate an agreement between Zardari and Musharraf which if finalised will allow Musharraf to resign without facing trial for over twenty charges levelled against him in the charge sheet of the ruling coalition. All these statements make it clear that President Musharraf agreed to resign only because he was pressurised by the western powers. If they did not intervene, Musharraf would have dismissed the government and dissolved the assemblies under Article 58 (2) (b) [which gives the president the power to dissolve parliament] and pushed the country into another spell of political chaos.
The statements made by the British Foreign Office, Aitzaz Ahsan and Tariq Azeem are enough to belie President Musharraf’s claim that he had decided to resign in the larger interest of Pakistan. Musharraf claimed in his August 18 speech that he had decided to resign to prevent a clash between institutions. What he meant by this statement was that the stage was set for a clash between the legislature and the judiciary if he had chosen not to resign.
There is little doubt in the fact that President Musharraf himself would have been the author of this clash and confrontation between the institutions of the state. It is this confrontation to which the British foreign office has referred in its statement. Again, the British government intervened not because they loved Pakistan or Pakistanis but because they wanted the Pakistani government to concentrate on the War on Terror.
President Musharraf’s recent speech, like his previous ones, comprises of empty and hollow words which have no meaning. For him words are a means of deceiving his enemy and not for speaking the truth. He often professed what he did not believe. When he came to power he gave the slogan ‘Pakistan First’.
What he did with Pakistan during his nine year rule does not require a thesis to be written. Even if we give him margin of error in his earlier decisions, all decisions that he made from March 9, 2008 onwards were motivated with his desire to perpetuate his own rule than to look after the interest of Pakistan. He ruined the country, targeted his enemies ruthlessly and destroyed the institutions systematically during his last seventeen months in power. Funny enough, he still had the courage to claim in his last address that he was resigning because he believed in ‘Pakistan First’.
Musharraf’s apathy, if not hatred, for Pakistan can be seen from the fact that in his last address he always referred to Pakistan as ‘this country’. Not even on a single occasion did he use the expression ‘my country’ or ‘our country’. This is enough to show that he never regarded Pakistan as his own motherland. Having been born in India and having been brought up in Turkey, Musharraf joined Pakistan Army probably because he wanted a prestigious job.
His career particularly in his later years showed that he never regarded himself as being in the service of Pakistan. In his book In The Line of Fire, he cherished the old British rule in which his father had been a ‘loyal servant’. Therefore, he tried to prove his credentials not with reference to his services for Pakistan but with the help of the certificates he had obtained from the British Royal College of Defence Studies.
Pakistan gave Musharraf the highest authority of the state. If he had lived in India, he would not have even dreamed to become a full general. Despite that, the last part of his address was pathetic. Before concluding his speech, he uttered: Pakistan ko khuda hafiz. The way he uttered these words are analogous to the one saying his enemy: “Good Luck with you.” Everyone knows what ‘good luck’ means when it is wished in such circumstances. Musharraf made tall claims of achievements made by him during his nine year long rule ‘unparalleled’ in the history of Pakistan.
Surprisingly, he forgot to mention that he conquered this poor nation not once but twice with the help of his military might first on October 12, 1999 and then on November 3, 2007. He would have completed his hat-trick by imposing emergency in the country on August 18, if the British had not intervened.
Therefore, the statement issued by the British Foreign Office makes sense that the British government did its best to avoid confrontation between the Pakistani president and the elected government. The crimes allegedly committed by Musharraf are many. Federal Information Minister Sherry Rehman and Federal Law Minister Farooq H Naek are on record for saying that a charge sheet comprising twenty charges with full evidence was ready against Musharraf.
This charge sheet would have been presented with the impeachment resolution if Musharraf had not resigned. The government must present this charge sheet, along with all evidence, before the nation and proceed against Musharraf according to law. Even if Zardari is bound by any ‘secret understanding’, other leaders should take the initiative and bring Musharraf to justice to expose the truth of his slogan ‘Pakistan First’.
Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar was present in the Independence Day [14 August] ceremony convened by the president. He was also there to bid farewell to the outgoing military ruler. To prove his neutrality and that of his institution, either he himself or one of the judges of the superior courts should take suo moto notice of the charge sheet against Musharraf because the former president no more enjoys immunity under law.
Furthermore, Musharraf must be questioned for his role in Benazir Bhutto’s assassination as she had herself nominated him and his lieutenants as possible suspects. It is mainly this card which Zardari apparently used to convince the western governments that he could not work with Musharraf.
Therefore, Sir Mark Lyall Grant had to re-intervene in Pakistan’s affairs as he was the one who had played a major role in the Abu Dhabi Deal between Musharraf and Benazir.
We claim to be Muslims and proudly call our country the ‘Islamic Republic of Pakistan’. One of the most fundamental teachings of Islam is ‘justice’. Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said to his companions that the earlier nations had been destroyed because they did not do justice: they prosecuted their weaker ones but took no action against their influential ones. We cannot survive as a nation for long if we do not prosecute our rulers for their ill deeds. There is a famous saying that ‘glacier melts from the top’.
If we will let Musharraf go without answering the ‘charge sheet’ we will not be able to survive as a nation for long. If Musharraf really believes in ‘Pakistan First’ he must present himself before the court. If he is unwilling to do so, our present rulers must prosecute him, unless they themselves are as insincere to the Pakistani nation as he was.
Originally published by The Nation website, Islamabad, in English 21 Aug 08.
(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring South Asia. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.