ISLAMABAD: The government on Monday offered to fly former military president Pervez Musharraf’s ailing mother home from a Sharjah hospital so he could attend to her as it zealously celebrated in the National Assembly his indictment by a Special Court for high treason as historic and effectively ruled out lifting a travel ban on him.

Hours after the retired general heard a three-judge bench indicting him for his Nov 3, 2007 declaration of emergency as army chief accompanied with a suspension of the Constitution and sacking of scores of judges of the superior judiciary, Defence Minister Khwaja Mohammad Asif and two of his cabinet colleagues engaged some sentimental self-adulation and harsh attacks on the former president after a government ally, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai, wondered how such an important day could go unsung in parliament.

The discussion, in which some lawmakers from opposition parties like the PPP and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Jamaat-i-Islami too appreciated the special court’s move, overshadowed a scheduled debate on the reported threat of an unspecified militant group to attack the PPP, its young chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Sindh police and Rangers over the ongoing anti-crime operation in the province.

After the house suspended the question hour and a couple of call-attention notices to devote to the debate on what was described as a threatening letter received from the banned group, Khwaja Asif took cue from Mr Achakzai to speak on what he called “another threshold” crossed in the march to democracy in which he said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s 10-month-old government and the army were “on the same page”.

Speculation was rife in the capital on the possibility that the government excluding Mr Musharraf’s name from an exit control list to allow him to be with his 95-year-old mother, Zarin Musharraf, after the special court ruled that it was up to the government to decide the issue.

But the defence minister seemed to pour cold water on such hopes saying, instead: “We offer from the government to bring his mother to Pakistan.”

Mr Achakzai had earlier opposed the idea of allowing Mr Musharraf to travel to Sharjah, pointing out Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, while in exile in Saudi Arabia under a deal with then president Musharraf, was not allowed to attend the funeral of his father in Lahore and thousands of other people might not have been allowed to leave jail to meet their ailing relatives.

Recalling the exile of French general and former monarch Napoleon Bonaparte in an island, he said even if the government thought of forgiving Mr Musharraf, “a symbolic punishment must come”.

But the defence minister, who came to the house apparently after the prime minister had a meeting with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, said it was up to the court whether to hand a symbolic or harsher punishment, adding that the government would implement whatever was the eventual verdict.

“No pressure would be accepted, nor there is any pressure on the government,” he said.

In one of his most strongly worded outbursts in the house, Khwaja Asif even called for bringing to justice parliament members who had voted for approval of Musharraf’s emergency and “agreed to sell their conscience”.

The remark immediately put a focus on apparently glum faces of several former Musharraf aides now on the treasury benches and members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) which was part of the Musharraf government along with the PML-Q.

Some other speakers afterwards demanded a constitutional amendment to debar supporters of any military dictator from contesting elections and forbidding political parties to allow such people in their ranks.

Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid spoke less on the Musharraf case and more on the threat to the Sind government from the militant group he refused to identify. He informed the house that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had set up a committee headed by the provincial police chief to probe the matter and that both the federal and provincial governments would together fight terrorism.

Railways Minister Khwaja Saad Rafique was in unusual rage after an MQM lawmaker, Asif Hasnain, called for leave the Musharraf case to the court and suggesting that people who subverted the Constitution from 1971 onwards should be brought to justice, likening the party with those who would side with every dictator while others learned lessons from their past mistakes.

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