Musharraf not to be tried for treason

Musharraf not to be tried for treason

Islamabad: Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf was given a “safe exit" after his resignation last year because of a negotiated settlement guaranteed by “international and local" stakeholders, President Asif Ali Zardari has disclosed.

All “international and local powers" having stakes in the region were “guarantors" of Musharraf’s negotiated resignation, Zardari said, adding he participated in the negotiations that led to the former President’s resignation in August last year.

“I remained part of the negotiations and I hope that General Pervez Musharraf will play golf," he told reporters at an iftaar dinner hosted by him at the presidency on Monday.

Zardari did not name the international and local players that acted as guarantors for the settlement.

Though he did not give further details, Zardari tacitly conceded that Musharraf could not be tried for treason as is being demanded by some opposition parties, especially the PML-N of former Premier Nawaz Sharif.

The possibility of Musharraf being tried for treason has arisen after the Supreme Court recently declared the emergency imposed by him in 2007 as unconstitutional and illegal.

Musharraf has been living outside Pakistan since mid-April, when he went abroad to deliver a series of lectures. The Saudi royal family has reportedly been involved in efforts to pressure PML-N chief Sharif not to insist on Musharraf’s trial.

Legal experts believe Musharraf’s trial would involve a number of people, including politicians, Generals and judges, who supported his actions and this could lead to embarrassing disclosures.

Asked about Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s comment that Musharraf’s trial is not suitable, Zardari said this question should be put to the Premier. “I am the President of Pakistan and will not make any comment on the Prime Minister’s statement," he said.

Zardari said the ruling Pakistan People’s Party always opposed dictators and had never accepted Musharraf as president. “The PPP has taken revenge through democracy and removed the dictator from the presidency," he said.

He outlined plans for the formation of a ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission´ to promote the process of national healing and unity. Zardari said he would ask the Prime Minister to establish such a body.

“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission should be headed by (leading rights activist) Asma Jehangir," he added.

Replying to a question, Zardari said the PPP-led government will fulfil its constitutional tenure of five years.

Zardari said Prime Minister Gilani is the country’s chief executive and he only advises him in his capacity as chief of the PPP.

In response to another question, he said there were similarities in the deaths of PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, his sons Shahnawaz and Murtaza Bhutto and former premier and his wife Benazir Bhutto.

“Anti-democratic forces were involved in the assassination of the Bhutto family. We were not against individuals but the thinking that creates such kind of incidents," he said.

When Zardari’s attention was drawn to home minister P. Chidambaram’s comments in the US about terrorism emanating from Pakistan, the President said his upcoming visit to America would not be affected by the “Indian propaganda".

Responding to another question, Zardari claimed that the self-governance package for the Northern Areas was promulgated to fulfil longstanding demands of the people of the region.