Pakistan’s embattled former military dictator Pervez Musharraf has refused to leave the country on “medical grounds” until he is given “clean chit” in high treason and other cases, according to a close aide.
Contrary to the impression that “Musharraf’s illness drama” has been staged to prepare a ground to send him abroad under a deal, his friends suggest that all efforts to “persuade” him to leave the country have failed to bear fruit as the Nawaz Sharif-led government wants to ” get rid” of 70-year-old Musharraf as early as possible.
“Musharraf is more keen to get his name cleared in high treason and other cases rather than leaving the country on medical grounds,” said former deputy prime minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi who is considered close to the former president.
Elahi and his party – PML-Q – remained a partner with Musharraf during 2002-07. It has recently put its weight behind Musharraf and launched an offensive against the PML-N government for ‘only’ trying him under treason charges for imposing emergency in the country.
“Gen Musharraf sees treason and other cases politically motivated and based on personal vendetta. He wants to face them and get his name honourably cleared,” he said.
There have been unconfirmed reports that Musharraf may leave Pakistan this month on ‘medical grounds’ after a deal with the PML-N brokered by Saudi Arabia and the United States.
But Elahi says Musharraf has no such plan.
“Musharraf is simply not interested in leaving the country on medical grounds,” he made it clear.
Musharraf has been under treatment at the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) in Rawalpindi since January 2 after he suffered from triple-vessel coronary artery disease and some other ‘not serious’ diseases.
Musharraf’s aide has cautioned the PML-N about the consequences of trying the former army chief.
“There will be uncontrollable fallout if the Musharraf’s trial continues. The PML-Q leadership has also moved a bill in the Senate seeking to replace the word ‘high treason’ in Article 6 of the Constitution with ‘offence against state’. We have contacted the opposition in the Senate for the support of our bill. We wonder as how the word ‘traitor’ can be used for the head of the Pakistan Army. This word should be replaced forthwith as it has demoralising effect on our army officers and jawans who are deployed at the Siachen and Indian border,” he said.
Meanwhile, a lawyer for Musharraf said his client has been advised to go to the US for medical treatment.
Anwar Mansoor Khan said he had submitted a letter to the court on Thursday, asking that Musharraf be transferred to the Paris Regional Medical Center in Paris, Texas.
Musharraf is a patient at the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in Rawalpindi. He was taken there after suffering a ‘heart problem’ on the way to a court hearing.
Musharraf returned to Pakistan in 2013 hoping for a political comeback but instead got embroiled in court cases relating to his near-decade in power.