Senators engage in a heated debate over Musharraf conviction

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ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Thursday witnessed a heated debate between the government and the opposition over the conviction of former military dictator Pervez Musharraf in the high treason case.

Taking part in the debate, Mushahidullah Khan, parliamentary leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, said there should be some forum to ascertain the authenticity of accusations against Justice Qazi Faez Esa of the Supreme Court, Waqar Ahmad Seth, Chief Justice of the Peshawar High Court, and a former judge of the Islamabad High Court.

He said whether one accepted it or not, the verdict delivered by Justice Seth against Gen Musharraf was bound to be written in letters of gold.

He regretted that Law Minister Farogh Naseem had allegedly used derogatory language against Justice Seth. “How this state could be run,” he said while questioning the behavior of the ruling party.

He said Nawaz Sharif alone had the courage to file a case against Gen Musharraf under Article 6 of the Constitution. He recalled that Prime Minister Imran Khan had been saying in the past that Gen Musharraf had committed treason, but now he and his law minister were saying something else.

The PML-N lawmaker called for a revival of student and trade unions to prevent the influx and influence of corrupt elements and interest groups in politics.

He condemned the government’s recent decision to pull out of the Kuala Lumpur summit.

The government changed its decision under the pressure of those who did not even support Pakistan on the Kashmir issue and rather honored Narendra Modi with the award, he added. He recalled that Nawaz Sharif had not only provided land for the Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital but also given it Rs500 million.

Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, while taking part in the debate on the presidential address to the joint sitting of parliament, said that Gen Musharraf was being wrongly blamed for all the troubles the country was facing, including a bad economy, political instability, and internal and external problems.

“The decision of Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth will be written in a shameful manner and in shameful words on the grounds that he gave the decision without reading the Constitution and the relevant verdicts of courts,” he said.

“I want to remind those who are happy over the sentence that this will remain mere their wish as no one can punish Musharraf,” said Senator Saif, who was once a close aide to the former military ruler.

He said the case against Mr. Musharraf was political in nature and the general was in no way guilty of treason.

He said had it been a genuine case, those who had endorsed Gen Musharraf’s actions should also have been brought to the dock. He also referred to the National Reconciliation Ordinance and said that politicians had made compromises with Gen Musharraf in the past.

He said politicians had supported Gen Musharraf as well as the judiciary which had justified many of his decisions, including the 1999 coup. “History and facts have been distorted.”

He said military generals were even being blamed for the misadventures and mistakes that were actually made during civilian rule.

He pointed out that during the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto government, politicians were victimized and many of them sent to jails and even eliminated. “Bhutto had faced all these allegations and not the military,” he said.

He said many politicians got themselves nurtured in the nursery of Gen Ziaul Haq. The senator came down hard on PML-N for allegedly attacking the Supreme Court building in 1997.

He said PML-N had tortured journalists, including Najam Sethi, in the past and pointed out that it was not a dictatorial regime. He reminded the house that it was the PML-N which set up the Ehtesab Commission to victimize its political opponents.

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