The treasury and opposition benches exchanged barbs on Thursday over trying former dictator Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf for treason, with the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) taking a U-turn over their support extended to the PML-N over the matter only three days ago.
The PPPP lawmakers looked visibly disturbed over the government’s pledge to reopen Swiss cases against President Asif Zardari and tried to return the favour to the ruling party.
Addressing the National Assembly session, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah said the PML-N and PPP were working together. However, he said the recent statement by the PML-N government reflected that their patience was running out and the government was going for re-opening the Swiss cases, which were closed by courts.
Shah said the court had itself ended the cases and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself had expressed regrets in this case.
He said the PPP government did not raise the issue of Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf as it did not want to demoralise the military. Shah said past mistakes must be set aside if they wanted to move forward together.
PPPP chief Makhdoom Amin Fahim asked the government to shun “the policy of double standards” on trying former dictator for November 3 emergency rather than 1999’s coup d’état.
However, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan responded in kind, stating that the government was not adopting double standards in dealing with the high treason case and rather it was only following the Supreme Court’s orders. He also said Nawaz never regretted filing the Swiss cases.
Speaking on a point of order in the National Assembly earlier, Fahim said his party had announced full support to the government in this regard but the government’s decision to try the dictator for November 3 emergency reflected that the government wanted to save some individuals.
“This is unacceptable. Justice should be across the board. We condemn it as the abettors of the dictator are equally responsible as is a dictator who on October 12, 1999 overthrew an elected government and imprisoned an elected prime minister,” he remarked.
“Has the criminal act of overthrowing the elected government on October 12, 1999 been pardoned,” he argued.
Shaikh Rashid Ahmed of the Awami Muslim League (AML) called for trying all the dictators under Article 6 of the constitution who abrogated the constitution since 1956.
He said the incident of October 12, 1999 had resulted into the dissolution of the National Assembly and an elected prime minister was arrested. He welcomed the decision of the government to handover the probe of Musharraf case to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and said the judges had punished their fellow judges for the emergency of November 3, 2007.
He said the government would have to charge 623 people and the court had given only three days to the government to take action while the government had sought 30 days. He advised the government to go slow over the matter as it had enough time for the matter.
Mahmood Khan Achakzai of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) said terrorism was a serious matter as the corps commanders meeting for the first time used the term of “enemy from within” regarding terrorism.
He said the armed forces needed to be provided moral support and the Nation Assembly should pass a unanimous resolution in condemnation of terrorism and extending full support to the armed forces.
Regarding Musharraf’s trial, Achakzai said the government had submitted its viewpoint with the apex court regarding the matter. He said almost all political parties had supported the military intervention of 1999 and his party was the only political outfit that opposed it.
Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan said the Supreme Court had asked the government to give its opinion over a case against Pervez Musharraf for abrogating the constitution of Pakistan and detaining judges of the higher judiciary after imposing emergency on November 3, 2007. He said a 14-member bench of the Supreme Court had decided that only one person was involved in acts of November 3, 2007.
“We have responded on this case. There was no question about action against abrogating the constitution from October 12, 1999 or from 1956 or so on”.
He was of the view that 99.9 percent of the army had nothing to do with martial laws and rather a few people were involved in such practices that damaged the image of the entire army.
“We will not accept any insult against Pakistan Army,” he said, adding that Pakistan army jawans had given huge sacrifices for the nation and were “the bravest of the brave”. “None of us likes to insult this institution,” he added.
“Linking activities of an individual with the whole institution is unjustified,” he remarked.
He informed the House that the government had constituted a four-member committee of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to investigate the high treason issue. On the issues of Karachi violence, the interior minister said the federal government was all forthcoming to help the provincial government in maintaining peace in the city, however, added that it could not cross the constitutional limits.
He said the government was ready to take onboard all political parties to resolve the issue, however, the political parties of Sindh should develop consensus among themselves and the provincial government should also come with clear stance on the issue.
Nisar urged the provincial government to call a special session to debate the current situation of Karachi and come with consensus policy. He said he would visit Karachi next month and hold meetings with Sindh governor, chief minister and political parties to help find a solution to the issue.
The minister, however, made it clear that measures would be taken under limits of constitution and the federal government would not interfere in matters of the provincial government, “as we want to follow the law and constitution”.
He said the federal government was ready to assist the provincial government in intelligence sharing and help it through the security agencies that fell under the federal government.
The minister said no doubt the Ranger, Frontier Constabulary (FC) and police were under the Interior Ministry, however, “he cannot directly order Ranger,s FC and police as these departments were under respective provincial governments.”
Nisar said, “We need to make a comprehensive proactive policy to check militancy in the country. We don’t have proactive policy to come down hard on militants.”
He reiterated that federal government would call a meeting soon to discuss the security situation and come up with a joint strategy to drive the country out of security crisis. He apprised the House that there was no national security policy on ground, “so we have to overhaul the policy to tackle menace of terrorism and law and order”.
In response to Swiss cases, the interior minister said it was a legal case and the government had not initiated any action on this. The Supreme Court (SC) took notice of the matter and a reply would be submitted according to law and the constitution, he said.
Nisar said facts should not be mutilated and clarified that the PML-N excused for including a section proposed by PPP in the Charter of Democracy (CoD) to ensure that both parties would withdraw cases against each other after coning to power.