Thursday, September 3, 2009

Seek apology to save your neck, Abdullah tells Musharraf

Thursday, September 03, 2009 ISLAMABAD: Former president Pervez Musharraf’s visit to Saudi Arabia has turned out to be a fiasco since he failed in persuading the Saudi authorities to secure clemency from his detractors in Pakistan, particularly the Sharif family.Instead, the Saudi authorities have advised him to seek pardon and tender an unconditional apology for his unconstitutional acts directly from the people who had to suffer due to his actions during his days in power. Musharraf has left Saudi Arabia empty-handed and it is expected that some other ‘international friends’ of the former president could intervene to save his neck. Musharraf who arrived in Saudi Arabia by a royal plane departed the Kingdom by a commercial flight.In yet another significant but related development, Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia Umer Ali Khan Sherzaie is reaching Islamabad today (Thursday) with his report on the developments in the Kingdom with reference to Pakistan. He was present during the recent meetings at the Jeddah Palace as well as interior minister Rehman Malik’s audience with King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and his interaction with Prince Mukrin and his Saudi counterpart Prince Naif. The ambassador, however, stayed away from the engagements of the former president. The Foreign Office has confirmed that the ambassador, who assumed his assignment last month, is coming home but said it has no further details. When Musharraf arrived at the Jeddah state palace Rehman Malik, who was staying at the 4th floor of the palace, was preparing to leave for Pakistan. He simply ignored the arrival of the former president and drove straight to the airport. The Saudi interior minister provided his royal plane to the minister for the return journey. The Saudi authorities are said to have advised former president Pervez Musharraf to seek pardon and unconditional apology from his detractors for the excesses he has committed against them while in power. The ‘advice’ has been conveyed to him loud and clear during his interaction with King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and other senior officials of the Kingdom during his current trip to Saudi Arabia. Well-placed diplomatic sources told The News here late Wednesday evening that Pervez Musharraf, who reached Jeddah with ‘SOS’ and stayed in the state guest palace “Kasr-e-Ziafa”, had requested for an audience with the King through ‘common’ friends last month. He wanted to visit the Kingdom even earlier when the campaign for his trial under Article 6 of the Constitution gained momentum in Pakistan. But the visit could not materialise. The new tide of demand for his accountability unnerved him and he requested for the visit afresh. Diplomatic sources have brushed aside the impression that the Saudi rulers are playing a role similar to the one they played for rescuing the Sharif family way back in 2000. That was a totally different story as Nawaz Sharif enjoys special relationship with the royal Saudi family and is held in the highest esteem. The sources pointed out that the interest being shown by the Saudi authorities is due to the fact that Saudi leadership wants to help Pakistan in minimising its political predicaments. Peace and stability in Pakistan has always been dear to the Saudi leadership and it is understood that the special envoy of the Pakistani leadership, who had an audience with the King the other day, has also been advised to help the former president in obtaining clemency from his adversaries, especially Nawaz Sharif.Sources close to former president, however, deny any such impression saying Pervez Musharraf is visiting Saudi Arabia on the personal invitation of the King and that he will not seek pardon. They said the king had invited Musharraf for discussion on global issues.The Saudi ambassador in Pakistan Abdul Aziz bin Ibrahim Saleh Al-Ghadeer has made it clear that Saudi Arabia does not meddle in Pakistan’s domestic affairs and his country should not be dragged unnecessarily in the political developments of the brotherly country Pakistan. “The doors of Saudi Arabia are open for every brother from Pakistan irrespective of his political affiliation since Saudi Arabia is second home for every Pakistani. Saudi Arabia and its royal leadership are always prepared to help Pakistan in any trouble but without interfering in its internal affairs,” the ambassador said. Talking exclusively to this scribe Wednesday evening Ambassador Abdul Aziz Al-Ghadeer reminded that late Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and late President General Muhammad Ziaul Haq visited the Kingdom several times during their tenures. Saudi Arabia had always generously kept its doors open for the people from Pakistan. “We don’t decline the visitor from this brotherly country but the political problems of this country have to be resolved by the people of this country,” the ambassador said. The Saudi envoy declined to comment on the political developments in Pakistan and said that his country is always prepared to do whatever it could do for its betterment and well being of the people of Pakistan. The sources revealed that Pakistan Muslim League-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif is leaving for Saudi Arabia next week to perform Umrah. He is likely to meet King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz in Riyadh. He will also have meetings with some other Saudi leaders including Prince Mukrin, chief of the Saudi Intelligence Agency. Online adds: Leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Syed Zafar Ali Shah advocate said on Wednesday that Saudi Arabia has no knowledge of democracy and no one should intervene in the domestic affairs of Pakistan.Talking to media outside the Supreme Court, Zafar Ali Shah said there are deep friendly relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and we respect these relations. However, they (Saudis) do not know much about democracy. Each country has its own democratic system and we never criticized the monarchy system in Arab countries.Talking about the Saudi Government asylum offer to Pervez Musharraf, he said it is Pakistan’s domestic issue and Saudi Arabia should avoid taking any step in this regard. No one has the authority to decide about the future of Pervez Musharraf. He said that people of this country have suffered due to Pervez Musharraf and they will decide what to do with him. He demanded of the government to confiscate the property of Pervez Musharraf and start legal proceedings against him to recover the people displaced during his tenure. Source : The News International

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