'No secret deal for Musharraf safe passage'
Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has rejected reports of any secret deal to give "safe passage" to former military ruler Pervez Musharraf after he stepped down as President of Pakistan last year.world Updated: Sep 19, 2009 15:47 IST
Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has rejected reports of any secret deal to give "safe passage" to former military ruler Pervez Musharraf after he stepped down as President of Pakistan last year.
"If there had been such a deal, it would have been made public by now as the media is very vibrant today," he said.
Musharraf's actions have not been indemnified by parliament and there is no question of him being pardoned, he has not been convicted for any crime, he added.
Gilani said in an interview with a TV news channel that remarks attributed to President Asif Ali Zardari about Musharraf's resignation under a negotiated settlement guaranteed by international stakeholders had also been contradicted by the presidency.
Asked about the possibility of Musharraf being put on trial on charges of treason after the Supreme Court had declared the emergency imposed by him in 2007 as unconstitutional, Gilani said he would back such a trial if parliament passed a unanimous resolution on the issue.
However, Gilani pointed out that his government is a blend of political parties and included people who had once been with Musharraf. This, he indicated, could prove to be a stumbling block for a trial.
"I am for it. We must create history. But at the same time, we should not rock the boat. If there is a unanimous resolution then the whole nation would be together," he said.
Noting that he too had suffered at the hands of Musharraf as he was jailed for five years, Gilani said: "Emotions and politics are two different things. I have to think about the country."
Replying to a question about past "deals" struck by Pakistani politicians, Gilani said he did not consider arrangements for former premier and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif to go into exile after being deposed in 1999 as a deal as Sharif was in custody at that time.
"If a person is in custody, legally it cannot be considered a deal. Confession before a police officer is no confession," he said.
Referring to negotiations between slain former premier Benazir Bhutto and Musharraf, Gilani said these were being held to ensure the former President doffed his military uniform and held free and fair elections.
However, there were many conditions that were not fulfilled by Musharraf and an emergency was imposed. After this, Bhutto decided to launch a countrywide protest, he said.
After the Pakistan People's Party came to power following last year's general election, it began putting pressure on Musharraf to quit and the provincial assemblies passed unanimous resolutions for his resignation, Gilani said.
In response to a question, Gilani said Musharraf had considered using the President's power to dismiss the Prime Minister when the PPP and PML-N decided to move a motion in parliament for his impeachment last year.
Gilani also said the biggest challenge facing Pakistan is terrorism and its elimination is his government's "priority number one". However, the war against terrorism cannot be won without the support of the people, he added.
Asked about expanding the army operation against militants from Swat to the troubled tribal areas, he said his strategy is not to move alone but take all stakeholders along.
He said he would take the political and military leadership into confidence when the time comes and "see whether it is worth it or not worth it" to expand the military operations.