By Rauf Klasra
ISLAMABAD: As many as 26 senior retired Army officers, some of them teachers of General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, boldly demanded on Saturday that a safe exit to Musharraf must not be provided.
At a news conference, they said Musharraf should be held accountable for the Kargil debacle and the coup against the Constitution of Pakistan on October 12, 1999. The ex-Army officers also demanded that former prime minister Shaukat Aziz should be brought back to Pakistan to face an inquiry into the massive financial scams of wheat, cement, steel mill, stock exchange, writing off billions of rupee loans and many more.
Shaukat should also be held responsible for the worsening economic situation of the country, they said. After long deliberations, the retired Army officers demanded of the government to order an independent inquiry to fix the responsibility of Musharraf’s actions during the last eight years. They asked President Musharraf to immediately resign as the president and quit the Army House as now he was the single source of all the problems and palace intrigues, which were weakening and destabilising Pakistan.
The unexplained absence of the former Army chief General (retd) Mirza Aslam Beg from the venue of the meeting surprised everyone, as he had earlier given his word to the host to attend the meeting and become a part of the decisions.
But, at the last moment, General Beg could not join his former Army colleagues who had gathered to support other political parties and civil society to pressurise Musharraf to quit.
At least, 26 senior retired generals attended the meeting at the residence of Brig (retd) Mahmud though invitation was extended to about 36 officers. However, some invitees, including General Ali Quli Khan, General Talat Masood and others, who could not attend the meeting, told the participants that they fully supported their demands.
The meeting also took the following decisions:
1. No safe exit should be given to Pervez Musharraf. He should be held accountable for all his actions, which include abrogation of the Constitution and other matters, including Kargil. An independent inquiry be held to fix the responsibility of his deeds, during the last eight years.
2. We support the civilian control of armed forces but recommend that checks and balances be ensured so that the armed forces are not politicised.
3. Vacation of the Army House by Musharraf is a step in the right direction, which should have been done long ago. This is giving a wrong signal to the people, as if the Army is supportive of his unconstitutional deeds.
4. Restriction on AQ Khan should be lifted and he should be allowed to resume all his normal activities.
5. We urge to bring back Shaukat Aziz to face an independent inquiry on wheat, steel mill, stock exchange, writing off loans and other issues. He is mainly responsible for the worsening economic situation of the country and be made to account for his actions.
6. If any steps similar to November 3 are taken by Musharraf to destabilise the present political process, these will be resisted by ex-servicemen in association with civil society and lawyersي community and political parties.
7. He should, therefore, bow down before the will of the people and stop using the presidency for further intrigues. We urge that missing persons be traced and the process initiated by the chief justice earlier be further progressed.
8. Problems of common man be addressed by the government to provide essential relief to them.
9. The Working Group further decided that it would support the lawyersي movement actively. In this connection, the committee has been made to liaise with the legal community.