By Zulfiqar Ahmad & Ali Hussain
ISLAMABAD, May 16: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is believed to be under immense pressure from international powers, especially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), US and ,UK not to adopt a confrontational stance with respect to trying former military strongman Gen Pervez Musharraf under article 6, it is learnt.
Well-placed sources close to Gen Musharraf claimed that the Sharifs of Raiwind will not be able to try the former military dictator for treason as he continues to enjoy full support from the international community.
They claimed that vendetta politics is neither in the interest of the country nor the Sharifs, and added that Pakistan is on the radar of the global community and expectations are high that the Sharifs would, as agreed with the former PPP led coalition government, play a pivotal role in US troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan.
However, US Embassy spokesperson Rian Harris said that US takes no position on the legal proceedings against Pervez Musharraf. “This is a matter to be resolved by Pakistan in accordance with its constitution and laws”, she added. Hariis further said that US position regarding Musharraf’s trial is very clear and it has issued statements numerous times that it is Pakistan’s internal matter.
According to other credible sources the Americans are extending some tacit support to Musharraf given the ongoing legal wrangling following his arrival after four years of self-imposed exile which he spent shuttling between US, UK and UAE.
A senior PML-N leader who declined to be named said that if Musharraf has the blessings of Saudis, then let alone PML-N no other Pakistani leader can afford to displease a friendly country like Saudi Arabia, which has always stood with their Pakistani brethren through thick and thin.
The sources also claimed that the sudden change in Nawaz Sharif’s stance to try Musharraf for high treason charges was only after the powerful Sheikhs of Saudi Arabia arranged a ‘candle light dinner’ in KSA to break the ice between the two arch rivals on the insistence of Gen (Retd) Musharraf.
The idea of ending almost a decade long antagonism between a man who violated the country’s constitution twice and a prime minister that he deposed and then refused to allow to enter the country or its politics for ten years was aimed at paving the way for economic and political stability to defeat growing militancy in Pakistan, they added.
Sources also claimed that the Saudis would once again try to convince Nawaz Sharif during his expected visit to Saudi Arabia before taking oath as the third-time prime minister of the country to lay off Musharraf and not proceed against him.
The Saudis were instrumental in striking a deal for the release of Nawaz Sharif and his family members after Gen Musharraf’s 1999 coup d’etat subsequent to which charges were brought against the Sharif brothers in the PIA hijacking case and they were incarcerated. After Saudi intervention Nawaz Sharif along with his family and younger brother Shahbaz Sharif were taken to Jeddah via a special royal plane after they agreed that they would not take part in politics for at least 10 years.
Some background interviews with retired military officers revealed that the army will not tolerate the courts, politicians or anybody else disgracing its former boss; the strongly worded speech in Urdu of Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani on the occasion of Martyrs Day was a clear message that such treatment to army personnel as well as its officers will demoralize the whole army, and it is cited as proof of the army’s position by retired military officers.
They further said that politicians are wary of taking a rigid stance against the powerful military as it maybe costly and there are no indications that Nawaz Sharif will compromise his political future by indulging in revenge.
They said that Nawaz Sharif is a completely changed man now and his recent statement to forget the past and go ahead by taking all the stakeholders on board with a commitment to make Pakistan an ‘Asian tiger’, reflects he has buried the past.