President Asif Ali Zardari’s disclosure that his predecessor, Pervez Musharraf, quit office under the terms of a deal that had international guarantors, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) demanded that he reveal the details of the purported arrangement.
Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan, Leader of the Opposition, told journalists outside Parliament on Tuesday that his party, the Nawaz Sharif-led PML(N), would move a resolution in the National Assembly demanding to know the terms of the deal.
Mr. Zardari told journalists at an Iftar he hosted on Monday that the former military ruler’s resignation as President on August 18, 2008 was part of a negotiated international settlement that had included local and international stakeholders as guarantors.
The President did not reveal who the guarantors were, and when asked if Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was one of the local stakeholders, he brushed off the question.
“Why do you want to bring him into this debate?” he asked.
“All international and local powers that have stakes in the region were guarantors of General Musharraf’s negotiated resignation,” he is reported to have said.
The remarks came at a time when sections of the PML(N) have been demanding that General (retired) Musharraf should be put of trial on charges of treason for subverting the Constitution.
Mr. Nisar described President Zardari’s remarks pointing at the involvement of foreign powers in the country’s political matters as “shocking”, and said it was well known that General Musharraf quit in order to avoid impeachment.
However, despite the clamour from the PML(N) for putting the former President on trial, the party is widely seen on a weak wicket on this issue, especially as it is highly likely that Saudi Arabia was one of the guarantors of General Musharraf’s exit arrangement. Even before Mr. Zardari’s disclosure, the talk was that the U.S. and the Pakistan Army were other guarantors for General Musharraf’s safe exit.
Days before General Musharraf’s resignation, the Saudi Arabian intelligence chief, Prince Muqrin, made a “secret” visit — it got out even before he had left — to Pakistan during which he met the entire political leadership of the country. The visit was seen as an impending sign of General Musharraf’s departure.
PML(N) leader Nawaz Sharif, who is in Saudi Arabia these days, met King Abdullah on Sunday. According to reports, the King advised him not to raise divisive issues but to work for reconciliation.
The former Prime Minister is said to be beholden to the Saudi Arabian monarch for saving his life back in 2000 by bailing him out of a jail sentence a year after he was ousted by General Musharraf in a coup.
Despite denying interfering in Pakistan’s internal matters, a charge that has been levelled by some voices in the PML(N), the House of Saud has been working behind the scenes to scuttle talk of a Musharraf treason trial, letting it be known that as a friend and “brother” of Pakistan, it wanted peace and stability in the country.
Earlier this month, first General Musharraf and then the Pakistani Interior Minister jetted in to Saudi Arabia for separate meetings with King Abdullah.
Pakistan’s ex-ruler has seemed a more confident man after the meeting, and told a television channel that his Saudi Arabia visit had been “a success”.