Musharraf May Face Corruption, Murder Charges

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By Amir Wasim

ISLAMABAD, Aug 10: The government’s charge-sheet against President Pervez Musharraf will comprise hundreds of pages containing charges of misconduct, financial irregularities, violations of the Constitution and ‘criminal acts’ that could lead to an open trial, but the PPP expects the president to resign before the impeachment motion is submitted to parliament.

The coalition is still undecided if President Musharraf should be given a ‘safe passage’ out of the country, discussions with leaders of the ruling parties suggest.

PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar, who is a member of the committee which is drafting the charge-sheet, told Dawn that it had made “significant progress”.

“It will be an unimpeachable document supported by documentary evidence of all the acts of omission and commission committed by (President) Musharraf that make him liable to impeachment several times,” Mr Babar said.

“We are in the government now and have access to many previously confidential documents. After going through these documents, we are surprised over the horrendous nature of the crimes committed by President Musharraf during his almost nine-year rule,” he said.

Mr Babar was of the opinion that President Musharraf would quit before the coalition parties moved the impeachment motion against him. “The man will have to go. It is a political reality and impeachment is just a legal and constitutional procedure to realise it,” he said.

The PPP leader claimed that dozens of PML-Q members were approaching the coalition and the number of legislators supporting the impeachment had almost reached 350 in the 442-member joint house of the National Assembly and the Senate.

When asked if the coalition was ready to give a ‘safe passage’ to the president in return for his voluntary resignation, he said it would be up to parliament and the heads of the coalition parties to decide.

Another member of the committee, Leader of the House in the Senate Raza Rabbani, said: “If the charge-sheet is put into River Ravi it will come into flood as far as gross irregularities and constitutional violations are concerned.”

Pakistan Muslim League-N’s information secretary Ahsan Iqbal, who is also a member of the committee, told reporters that the party had received hundreds of emails and text messages demanding an open trial of President Musharraf. He said the charge-sheet would contain hundreds of pages.

He said the impeachment had become a national issue because 86 per cent of the people wanted to see the president out of office.

Another member of the committee said the charge-sheet would cover misconduct, subversion of the Constitution, imposition of emergency, attack on judiciary, missing persons, the Lal Masjid operation, corruption in the funds received from the US for supporting the war against terror, killing of Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti and detention of hundreds of youths in Balochistan without trial.

Information Minister Sherry Rehman told reporters after a meeting of the committee held at her residence that the charge-sheet would soon be made public.

She expressed the hope that the committee would complete its work in three to four days.

She said PML-Q members had also advised the president not to use Article 58-2(b) which showed that they wanted President Musharraf to resign.

PHONE CONVERSATION: Meanwhile, spokesman Farhatullah Babar said in a statement that the PPP was concerned over reports that Gen (retd) Musharraf had in a telephonic conversation warned its chairperson Benazir Bhutto that her life in Pakistan would be in danger if she did not extend him political cooperation.

The revelation has been made in a recently published book, The Ways of the World, authored by Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Suskind.

The revelation, if true, lends enormous credence to what was generally talked about in the streets of Pakistan about the likely killers of Ms Bhutto. It also lends dramatic significance to the last email she had sent to her lobbyist in the US pointing out dangers to her life and indicating also who she suspected could be involved if something happened to her,” Mr Babar said.

The PPP has already approached the United Nations for an investigation into her assassination and it hoped that the inquiry, whenever constituted, would also look into this horrendous revelation, he said, adding: “In the final analysis nothing remains secret and it is a law of the nature to expose the killers, the tyrants and the brigands in ways that one cannot even comprehend.”