Senators from both the opposition and the ruling coalition weighed in on whether the sick former military ruler Pervez Musharraf should be allowed to return to Pakistan a day after PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif urged on the government to make it easier for him to return.
For the past few weeks, the retired general had been in the hospital. He had amyloidosis, a rare condition in which an abnormal protein called amyloid accumulates in organs and tissues all across the body.
PML-N leaders have shown their willingness to let him return after news of his fragile condition was disclosed.
PPP senator and former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani posed the following question during a hearing of the parliament’s upper house today (Wednesday): “Were you able to prevent him from leaving the country? Will you be able to keep him from coming back?”
He stated, “These decisions will not be made by us… they will be made somewhere else.”
“I had forgiven him” while Musharraf was still in Pakistan, the senator continued. “Pervez Musharraf is free to return if he so desires. Pakistan is where he calls home “Gillani went on to say that he had no objections to the former dictator’s return.
“However,” he said, “everyone should be treated fairly.”
Nawaz Sharif tweeted late Tuesday night that he had no “personal hostility or animosity” toward Musharraf and that he didn’t want anyone else to go through what he and his family had gone through.
Musharraf’s family had been in contact with the Pakistan Army about his possible return to Pakistan, according to his statement. The former dictator’s return to Pakistan from the United Arab Emirates, according to Inter-Services Public Relations Director General Major General Babar Iftikhar, was a choice made by his family and doctors.
“The institution and its leadership believe he should return,” he continued.
However, today’s Senate debate revealed a political rift on Musharraf’s return.
Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan of Jamaat-i-Islami opened the debate by recalling how the Pakistani Constitution had been subjected to various injustices. “We have limitations. We’ve had our hands and feet tethered. We are nothing more than slaves.”
For ten years, Musharraf had been the “master of black and white,” he claimed. “He breached the law twice and assassinated the judges. The previous Pakistani chief justice was dragged by his hair… The Peshawar High Court’s decision is in front of you, “Mushtaq Khan continued.
He claimed that if Musharraf returned to the country, the jail doors should be opened as well, and the courts should be shuttered because the judiciary “won’t be needed.”
Senator Raza Rabbani acknowledged that Musharraf was guilty of a number of crimes. “However, if his health deteriorates and he want to return to his homeland, there will be no problem.”
He did, however, state that he could not speak on behalf of his political party. “When a person is convicted by a court under Article 6 of the Constitution, things are extremely different (high treason). Giving such a person a state funeral would be extremely inappropriate “Added the PPP’s leader.
Meanwhile, PTI senator Ejaz Chaudhary has asked for the law’s implementation to be completed. “Pervez Musharraf, or whoever went abroad for treatment, should return, and the law should take its course.”
He went on to say that the country would only grow if everyone had equal access to the rule of law.
PML-N Senator Irfan Siddiqui held a similar viewpoint. “Nawaz Sharif was speaking in his own capacity. Allow the Constitution and the law to chart the course if they are strong.”
“If not Pakistan, where will Musharraf go?” he said, adding that a man would not even be permitted to return to his motherland if he was “on his dying bed.”
Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, the leader of the JUI-F, has stated that the retired general is currently fighting for his life and that it would be unjust to prevent him from returning to Pakistan. He said, “Even Nawaz Sharif left the nation for medical treatment.”