A group of Pakistani military officers protested against the “humiliating treatment” meted out to ex-army chief Pervez Musharraf,who has been arrested over the 2007 emergency and the assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto.
A delegation of 75 officers from the Command and Staff College in Quetta expressed their concerns over the treatment of Musharraf and the perceived humiliation of the military during a meeting with members of a committee of the Senate or upper house of parliament.
The delegation led by Col Saqib Ali Cheema met Mushahid Hussain Sayed,chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Defence,at Parliament House yesterday.
“The military officers were of the opinion that under the Constitution,the armed forces could not be criticised,” a source was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.
The military officers expressed concern at what they described as the “ridiculing of the army as an institution”,The News daily reported.
Musharraf,69,was arrested last week after the Islamabad High Court revoked his bail over the detention of more than 60 judges during the 2007 emergency.
He was subsequently arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency over the assassination of Bhutto.
Musharraf is currently being held at his farmhouse,which has been declared a “sub-jail”.
The former military ruler’s legal woes have multiplied since he returned to Pakistan last month after nearly four years in self-exile.
He is also facing charges over the killing of Baloch leader Akbar Bugti in a 2006 military operation and several lawyers have petitioned the Supreme Court to put him on trial for treason for imposing emergency rule.
Over the past few days,several retired generals,including former army chief Mirza Aslam Beg,have expressed concern at the treatment of Musharraf,who was also been barred from running for next month’s general election.
During the interaction with the military officers,Mushahid Hussain Sayed agreed with their views and reportedly said: “We are all proud of the professionalism of our armed forces and in the Constitution. The judiciary and armed forces are national institutions which should not be subject to any kind of criticism”.
He said the military officers had asked him if there was anything in the Constitution that allowed anyone to humiliate any institution.
He said no constitutional provision allows any institution or person to humiliate any other institution.
He said the way the situation was being run was “highly regrettable and the red line should not be crossed” as the situation could reach a “point of no return”.
“Pakistan today is a vibrant democracy and there are multiple power centres playing an effective role in strengthening democracy and democratic traditions in the country,” Sayed said during the meeting.
The military officers asked questions about the civilian vision of civil-military relations and the national defence strategy.
They also raised questions about the reasons for the lack of legislation on tackling terrorism.