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Pak govt under UAE pressure to make way from Mush's return

The Pakistan government is under "unprecedented pressure" from the rulers of the United Arab Emirates to pave the way for a "safe, secure and honourable homecoming" of former President Pervez Musharraf, a media report said today.

world Updated: Dec 01, 2010 14:41 IST

The Pakistan government is under "unprecedented pressure" from the rulers of the United Arab Emirates to pave the way for a "safe, secure and honourable homecoming" of former President Pervez Musharraf, a media report said today.

The rulers of UAE, who have considerable influence among all the main political parties of Pakistan, are said to have asked Islamabad to initiate steps to "build a favourable political image" for Musharraf and to ensure that he will not be harassed by court cases and the police on his return, The Express Tribune daily quoted its sources as saying.

According to an understanding reached between the UAE and Pakistan several months ago, it was decided that the Pakistan government would facilitate Musharraf's return as soon as the two-year bar on his participation in politics ends, the sources said.

Official sources told the newspaper that the pressure had forced President Asif Ali Zardari to curtail his visits to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The "extraordinary interest" of UAE's rulers in Musharraf's political future came to light when UAE's Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed al Nahyan made a covert visit to Islamabad within three days of the Federal Investigation Agency's announcement that the former President had been included in the investigation into former premier Benazir Bhutto's assassination.

He spent only 30 minutes with Zardari before heading back to the UAE but immediately after his visit, Interior Minister Rehman Malik told the media that the government did not intend to question Musharraf in connection with the probe.

Malik also said on November 27 that the government had not made any decision to include Musharraf in the probe. Earlier, an FIA team had prepared a 32-point questionnaire that was meant to be sent to Musharraf, currently living in self-exile in Britain.

Top Pakistani politicians like Zardari and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif have close links with the UAE's rulers and have lived in Dubai for long periods when they left Pakistan and went into self-exile in the past decade. Musharraf too has close links with the ruling family and often holds meetings with his supporters in Dubai.