ISLAMABAD: The main opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has asked the government to hold trial of former army chief Gen Pervez Musharraf on treason charges for staging a military coup in 1999, saying the party is ready to cooperate with the government to remove any constitutional hitch in this regard.
Talking to a group of reporters here on Tuesday, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah said his party had never accepted the 17th Constitution Amendment which gave legal cover to the previous acts of Gen Musharraf and declared that his PPP was ready to cooperate with the government to amend the constitution again, if it desired to hold trial of the military dictator for his actions of 1999, instead of Nov 3, 2007.
Mr Shah regretted that the government had not taken the opposition into confidence on the issue of Gen Musharraf’s trial. He said the PPP believed that Gen Musharraf committed a bigger crime on Oct 12, 1999, when he sacked an elected government and held the constitution in abeyance.
“The imposition of emergency on Nov 3, 2007 should be seen as a continuation of the 1999 coup,” he added.
“Article 6 is applicable on all the corps commanders (of the time) who were present on the ground since Gen Musharraf was in the aircraft (at the time of coup),” he said. “If the government wants to protect someone, it should say this clearly,” he said.
In his apparent reference to the judiciary of the time, he said everyone knew as to who validated the military takeover and allowed Gen Musharraf to amend the constitution. Then Mr Shah named some political figures and said Musharraf’s law minister Zahid Hamid was today a member of the federal cabinet and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who had played a key role in the passage of 17th Amendment, was today a government coalition partner.
He said the whole cabinet was there when Gen Musharraf imposed emergency on Nov 3, 2007. He said why today no one was mentioning the name of the then prime minister Shaukat Aziz.
In what appeared to be an attempt to provide a face saving to the former ruling PML-Q, the PPP leader said the Q-League had supported Gen Musharraf when Nawaz Sharif struck an agreement with the dictator and left the country for living in exile.
Mr Shah also questioned the timing of the government’s announcement to hold Gen Musharraf’s trial under Article 6 as it seemed to be an attempt to divert the attention of the people from sectarian clashes and other sensitive matters.
The PPP leader termed the recent Rawalpindi incidents a result of the incompetence and failure of the government. He also criticised Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for not cutting short his foreign trip despite heightened tension in the country.
He also demanded of the government to immediately summon the session of the parliament to discuss the Ashura tragedy.
In response to a question, he said he was in contact with Shah Mehmood Qureshi of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and if the government did not convene the parliament session, they would themselves requisition it.
To another query, he said that so far no formal discussion had taken place between him and the prime minister on the appointment of new chief election commissioner.