Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf, who is currently in London and faces possible arrest if he returns home, has summoned his key aides for a meeting in Dubai to discuss his future plans.
Musharraf "is likely to reach Dubai from London within the next few days where he has summoned his close aides for consultation regarding his political ambitions", The News said Tuesday, quoting sources close to the former president.
The former president, who is in London on an extended lecture tour, faces sedition charges back home for tampering with the constitution and arresting the Supreme Court judges after imposing an emergency Nov 3, 2007. A criminal case was registered against him earlier this month, but it is a moot point whether he will actually be brought to trial.
According to the sources, Musharraf held a meeting in London with a group of nazims (Pakistani town coordinators) "and discussed with them his future political ambitions as his two year ban on political activities will expire in November this year", The News said.
The sources said Humayun Akhtar Khan; the secretary general of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) also met Musharraf in London. However, aides close to Akhtar denied this, saying he was in London on a private visit with his family.
Musharraf had promoted the PML-Q just before the 2002 general elections by encouraging a split in the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz of Nawaz Sharif, whom he had deposed in a bloodless coup in October 1999. The PML-Q, also known as the King's Party, had swept the polls but was voted out by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-PML-N combine in the 2008 general elections.
Analysts here pointed out that the fact that the nazims had met Musharraf shows this had the tacit approval of the Pakistani government.
This also reinforces the belief that Musharraf had stepped down last August under an elaborate deal brokered between the Pakistani government, the army, the US, Britain and Saudi Arabia.
The Pakistani government has been speaking in twin voices on prosecuting Musharraf.
"We should do what is doable," Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had said in the National Assembly last week in response to a suggestion that parliament try Musharraf for tampering with the constitution.
In a front-paged story Aug 21, The News said Gilani "was actually alluding to those unwritten assurances provided to Musharraf from the ruling coalition, the military leadership and Pakistan's trusted international friends in the week that followed his resignation from the office on Monday, August 18, last year".
"The bottom line of this deal was to grant Pervez Musharraf a graceful departure from the presidency with guarantees that there would no impeachment or court proceedings against him in future," a senior official with direct knowledge of what happened in the decisive week said.
But, on Monday, Attorney General Latif Khosa was quoted as saying that the ruling PPP will support the trial by parliament.
"The PPP has ideological differences with the PML-N but it would support a resolution bringing dictators and breakers of constitutions to book," Khosa maintained.