ISLAMABAD: The majority of the members from both sides of the aisle in the upper house of the Parliament on Wednesday supported Pervez Musharraf’s return to Pakistan on humanitarian grounds — a day after the military said it wanted the former president to return to the country.
“We are not the ones to make these kinds of decisions — such decisions are taken elsewhere,” Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Yousaf Raza Gillani said with reference to the ongoing debate on Musharraf’s return to Pakistan.
Presided over by Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani, the Senate sitting was scheduled to take up the debate on the Finance Bill, 2022 but diverted its focus to Musharraf’s return.
Earlier, on Tuesday, Major General Babar Iftikhar, Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR),the Pakistan Army’s media wing, said in a television interview that military brass believes Musharraf should return to Pakistan in view of his ailment.
Reports suggest that the former president is battling for life in Dubai.
“Were you able to stop him when he left for abroad? Will you be able to stop him when he returns back?”Gillani said on the floor of the house.
“When Musharraf was the President, I was in jail—I forgave him when he was here in Pakistan,” the former prime minister said.
He, however, added that everyone should be treated equally.
Sanjrani, the Senate chief, also supported Musharraf’s return back home. “He (Musharraf) is a citizen of this country. If he wants to come, let him come,” he remarked.
Irfan Siddiqui from Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) said “Where else should Musharraf go if he is not allowed to come back to Pakistan.”
He said that the ex-general should be allowed to return and “if the constitution and law are strong enough—they should take their course thereafter.”
Ijaz Chaudhry from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was also of the view that Musharraf should be allowed to return to Pakistan and the law should take its course thereafter.
Abdul Ghafoor Haideri from Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal (JUI-F) said it would be unfair if Musharraf is not allowed to return to Pakistan keeping in view that he is fighting for life.
“Nawaz Sharif also went abroad for medical treatment—it would be unfair to stop anyone from returning home. I was put in jail during Musharraf era. But he is on his deathbed now. There should be no hurdle in his return,” Haideri commented.
However, Senator Mushtaq Ahmed from Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) fiercely opposed Musharraf’s return. “He (Musharraf) violated the constitution twice. He insulted the superior judiciary and held it hostage. He called the shots for 10 years in this country. And today, we cannot call a spade a spade. We are slaves. Our hands are tied,” he said.
Former chairman Senate Raza Rabbani from the PPP said Musharraf committed “several atrocities,” but supported his return to Pakistan on health grounds.
Without naming anyone, Rabbani said, “Things are different when a person has been convicted under Article 6 of the constitution (for high treason). It would be totally inappropriate to hold a State funeral for such a person.”
Faisal Javed from the PTI took on former premier Nawaz Sharif “for flying to London to get medicine and never returning back.”
He deplored, “Nawaz Sharif is a proclaimed offender. He should return back home and face the cases.”
Meanwhile, reporters staged a walkout from the Senate press gallery in protest against the murder of the brother of journalist, Akhtar Abbas in district Layyah, the registration of cases against journalists and a snatching incident with a female journalist in the federal capital.
On the directions of the Senate chief, Faisal Javed and Irfan Siddiqui assured the protesting journalists that their issues would be resolved and requested them to end the protest.
The reporters then ended the protest and returned to the press gallery.
The house was adjourned till Thursday (June 16).
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022