ISLAMABAD: PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has presented himself for trial under Article 6 of the constitution for having supported former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf’s decision to proclaim the state of emergency on Nov 3, 2007.
Taking part in a debate in the Senate on the country’s security situation on Monday, Chaudhry Shujaat also called for trial of former army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi and former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry for supporting Gen Musharraf on different occasions. He suggested that instead of Nov 3, 2007, the trial should begin from Oct 12, 1999, when Gen Musharraf, as army chief, had toppled the elected government of Nawaz Sharif.
The PML-Q president criticised the use of word “treason” for the case on which Gen Musharraf was being tried and said it was used for a person having joined hands with enemies of the country. “What message we want to give to the world by declaring that our army chief was a traitor?” asked Chaudhry Shujaat, the head of the ruling party at the time of Gen Musharraf’s rule in the country.
He was of the opinion that the word “high treason” should not be there in the constitution at all. He regretted that people who administered oath to office by a “so-called traitor” and who enjoyed ministries in the past were now talking about his trial under Article 6.
However, no lawmaker from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which was a coalition partner with the PML-Q during the Musharraf regime, spoke in support of the former military ruler.
But Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) endorsed the PML-Q chief’s opinion and said the trial of Gen Musharraf alone was against the spirit of justice. He said the former president had himself stated that he was in the air when the elected government was toppled in 1999. Therefore, he said, all those who were on the ground and worked on his behalf should be tried whether they were generals, judges or politicians.
Responding to Chaudhry Shujaat’s speech, Mushahidullah Khan of the PML-N said that political parties had differing viewpoints on the starting time of the trial of the military dictator. He said the purpose of Gen Musharraf’s trial was not to hang him or sentence him for life, but to end the culture of occupying the country through use of force and formation of political parties at the ISI office.
The PML-N senator said the person who used to show fists in the past and claimed to be a brave man had now got himself admitted to hospital instead of facing courts.
In an apparent reference to a report that Gen Musharraf’s London flat was on sale, Mr Khan said it was surprising that the former military dictator was indulging in real estate business from the hospital. How a person who had retired as a grade-22 officer earned so much money that he owned property worth billions of rupees inside and outside the country, he said.
Earlier, MQM senators staged a token walkout when they were not allowed by the chairman to respond to the speech of PPP’s Dr Karim Khawaja who criticised Altaf Hussain’s statement about division of Sindh.
The MQM and the PML-N opposed a motion moved by ANP’s Haji Adeel seeking shifting of the head office of State Bank from Karachi to Islamabad.
Meanwhile, the Senate referred the 22nd Constitution Amendment Bill jointly moved by PPP’s Sughra Imam and Raza Rabbani to the standing committee concerned. The bill seeks a bar on dual-nationals to join civil service, armed forces and the judiciary.