Now we know on record who had helped the former military ruler of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, to escape to Dubai even as the courts were hearing a slew of cases, against him. Army Chief (the then) Gen Raheel Sharif had helped him out, he told a Pak TV channel. He made the same remark to an American publication some months ago though in a passing manner.
“He [Gen Raheel] did help me and I am grateful… he helped me out because the cases are politically motivated, they [Nawaz govt] put me on the ECL (Exit Control List], they turned it into a political issue”, Musharraf told the interviewer. He went on to say: “These courts work under pressure behind the scenes and then give rulings. The army chief had a role to play in releasing the pressure behind the scenes”.
Well, Musharraf-speak is a sad commentary on the state of affairs in Pakistan. His remarks may become the basis for a new round of litigation against him and some political slugfest but then it will be neither here nor there.
What Musharraf said in the same interview about his differences with Nawaz Sharif in the run up to the Oct 1999 coup is no less significant.
““Sharif wanted me to sack two Major Generals”, he said recalling the events that culminated first in his ouster as army chief and later in his military coup that had sent Nawaz Sharif unceremoniously packing mid-way through his second term as Prime Minister. “That (the demand to sack two Major Generals) was the basis of my differences with him [Sharif]”.
Sharif’s office was quick to issue a rebuttal. “The statement (of Musharraf) is utterly baseless, malicious, untrue and concocted. No such issue (the demand to sack two Major Generals) was discussed between the two,” a spokesman said but chose not to comment on Musharraf’s claim that Gen (retd) Raheel Sharif had helped him fly abroad.
On his part, Gen Raheel Sharif has not yet deemed it fair and proper to offer his comment. His silence is a testimony to the way the Army as an institution protects its present and former personnel.
Musharraf is known as a braggart. He is garrulous too. Yet, there is no need to discount his claim that General Raheel Sharif had pressured both the judiciary and the civilian government into letting him off the hook. Medical treatment for a fractured vertebrae was the official excuse though.
As Dawn editorially says, “ If past candour is any indication, the sensational new disclosures by retired army chief and former military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf may well be true”
Well, there is no doubt that there is more than a whiff of hypocrisy in Mr Musharraf’s revelations. Highlighting this aspect of Musharraf-speak, the Express Tribune points out ( writing under the heading “Ghosts of the past”) that “what he does is that ‘our judiciary have to move towards justice’ while at the same time alleging that that very same judiciary were subject to background pressures from the sitting government — of PM Nawaz Sharif. In order to ‘relieve’ those pressures a past military commander made an intervention and the Musharraf exit was achieved”.
But that is how the system in Pakistan runs.
“When any civilian ruler tried to put any non-civilian on trial, it became the stumbling block for the civil-military relationship and against the national interest, but, when any dictator put an elected premier on trial, it became normal”, Mazhar Abbas wrote in The News International (December 22, 2016).
As of now a question that needs an answer is something else. It is about the timing of Musharraf’s thank you to Raheel Sharif
Obviously, as Daily Times said editorially, Musharraf wants to embarrass his bete noire Nawaz Sharif, and settle some old and new scores with him. Secondly, and in fact, most importantly, he would like to expose the feet of clay of the Pakistan judiciary, which had scripted the down fall of his regime long after giving it legitimacy by invoking the doctrine of necessity.
Higher judiciary in Pakistan is of late showing signs of activism. It has not gone down well with the Army. Musharraf may be voicing the displeasure. May be as a warning shot!
In short, Musharraf –speak is a reminder to the people of Pakistan that it is the GHQ Shura that calls the shots and not the civilian leadership. this is a timely reminder Nawaz Sharif probably needs more than anyone else in Pakistan since his acolytes are basking in his reflex glory that came with his feat of appointing an army chief for the fifth time.