ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly saw a sharp division over the fate of former military ruler Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday, with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani advising legislators to leave the former president “to himself” while opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan called for his trial for abrogating the Constitution twice and working against national interests.
The sitting saw a third consecutive walkout by opposition members in as many days — this time over stoppage of funds for development of the areas affected by the 2005 earthquake.
The house passed two government bills and began a debate on an adjournment motion relating to incursion of Nato forces into Pakistan, resulting in losses of lives.
After Chaudhry Nisar made a scathing criticism of Pervez Musharraf for his reported admission that Pakistan army had trained militants to fight in Indian-held Kashmir, the prime minister said: “I have told him (the opposition leader) privately, and say it again, that it will be better to leave him (Gen Musharraf) to himself.”
But a backbencher of the prime minister’s own party, Jamshed Dasti, who apparently disagreed with Mr Gilani’s views, announced that he would register a treason case against Gen Musharraf at a police station in his hometown of Muzaffargarh on Thursday, if the Punjab chief minis- ter directed the police department to entertain his complaint.
The assembly passed two bills — the Sacked Employees (Reinstatement) Bill 2010 seeking to provide relief to employees of various government departments and corporations who had been dismissed from service during the second term of the Nawaz Sharif government (1996-1999) and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (Amendment) Bill 2007 seeking an amendment to the ordinance issued in 1965 to establish the commission. The bill has been passed with a purpose to place the commission under the National Command Authority.
The opposition leader said that if Gen Musharraf was allowed to go scot-free, he would continue to damage the country’s national interests.
Without naming Mr Musharraf, he said the time had come for the government to bring the former military dictator back home with the help of Interpol and make him accountable for suspending the Constitution, detaining judges of the superior courts and killing Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and a number of people during the Lal Masjid operation.
Apparently in reaction to Gen Musharraf’s personal attack on his party chief Nawaz Sharif, Chaudhry Nisar described the former president as “a characterless man” and “a person who has lost his senses”.
The PML-Q’s Amir Muqam, a member of the Musharraf cabinet, said if the former president was a ‘criminal’, those who had allowed him to leave the country should also be treated as criminals.
Both Chaudhry Nisar and Amir Muqam accused the government of forgetting the quake-affected people who were still living in the open. They said that stoppage of funds to the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority had halted all development activities in the affected areas, particularly Hazara division.
The opposition staged a token walkout from the house.
In his reply, the prime minister said his government had, in fact, increased the allocation for Erra from Rs11 billion to Rs22 billion. He said that an amount of Rs5 billion would be released to Erra this week.
The PPP’s Gul Mohammad Jakhrani criticised the Punjab Assembly for passing a resolution in favour of the construction of Kalabagh dam. “You cannot infuse life into a dead horse,” Mr Jakhrani said, adding that there was no need for a fresh consensus because three provinces had already passed unanimous resolutions against the construction of the dam.
Mr Jakhrani, however, faced criticism from his party’s colleagues belonging to Punjab, including two ministers, who spoke in favour of the dam.
The Minister of State for Education, Ghulam Farid Kathia, and the Minister of State for Interior, Tasneem Qureshi, said that every provincial assembly had a right to express its feelings and opinion through resolutions. They were of the opinion that the construction of Kalabagh dam had become necessary after the flood devastation.
The opposition, as well as treasury members, urged the government to lodge a protest with the US over the violation of the country’s airspace by the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf).
The PML-N’s Khawaja Saad Rafique asked the government to tell the house from where these drone attacks were being carried out and if there was an agreement with Nato allowing it to carry out attacks on Pakistani soil.
He asked the prime minister to reply these questions in his concluding speech, saying if he failed to give replies then the opposition would be justified to demand mid-term elections after the removal of the government.