By Rauf Klasra
LONDON: The resurfacing of the 20-year-old scandal of Mian Nawaz Sharif accepting millions from the ISI for political shenanigans has thrown a fresh lifeline to a besieged Gen Musharraf (at least that’s what his closest aides in London insist), who feels that now Nawaz could be made to end up in a dock for committing crime against democracy and the people.
A top aide of Musharraf disclosed that he strongly believed that those who were clamouring for his trial under Article 6 must also demand a similar course for three retired Army generals—General Aslam Baig, General Hameed Gul and General Asad Durrani, who distributed millions of rupees among politicians like Nawaz Sharif, “as it equally amounted to high treason to take funds and distribute them through intelligence agencies to pursue nefarious political objectives,” was how the aide put it.
It was pointed out to the aide that the scandal was an old story and not a new revelation as it was part of veteran politician Asghar Khan’s petition pending with the Supreme Court of Pakistan and was also part of Asghar Khan’s book “We have not learned anything from History”. But, the aide insisted that Musharraf believed “that it had resurfaced at a time when Nawaz was acting all-holy and pious as if he was the only honest politician left in Pakistan who did not have any blot on his character. But, now it has turned out to be otherwise, as the only twice-elected prime minister of Pakistan who had been taking money from the ISI along with his fellow politicians now sitting in the ranks of the PML-N. We believe that this refresher of public’s jaded memory will help put events, and people, in correct perspective.”
Musharraf’s aide said that now the electronic media was much strong and powerful if compared with the relatively controlled media of 1990s and now with about two dozen news channels on air, the message was clear that those claiming to be honest had been taking huge money from secret agencies in the name of contesting elections and fulfilling the political motives of uniformed generals.
Musharraf was made to believe that this scam would not only hurt Nawaz’s credibility but would also greatly neutralize the feeling of people of Pakistan who thought only he (Musharraf) was responsible for all the ills of the country. The aide said, “We must realize that it’s something totally new for the new generation of Pakistan which grew after 1988 and now they were helplessly watching the fall of their hero Nawaz who is not ready to even give any justification to people for this crime.”
Against this background, the aide said, General Musharraf who was under fire from PML-N circles quite recently, was now said to be feeling relaxed after the resurfacing of the scandal.
A greatly relieved Musharraf was told to have asked his political supporters in Pakistan to highlight this new scandalous aspect of Nawaz’s personality that how he had been accepting money despite the fact that he was a billionaire even at the time when he accepted the cash from the agency spooks. The aide opined that, Musharraf genuinely felt that in the days to come, Nawaz might be in big trouble to give justifications for acceptance of payment for political purposes from a secret agency. “Is it not high treason to take millions from ISI and contest elections in order to stop Benazir Bhutto from coming to power and now cry hoarse for democracy,” said Musharraf to someone according to the aide.
He claimed that soon Musharraf and his sympathisers in Pakistan, particularly those in the National Assembly, will try running with this story and making it a big thing as, he said, “We are aware that Nawaz too has already activated his sympathisers, in politics and the media, to question the timing of reactivating the issue of the payments. Instead of asking Nawaz to justify those payments, the media men were asked to target those who were giving clues about the past wheeling dealings of Nawaz”.
Musharraf is said to be wondering about why the “so called free media” as put by the aide, instead of grilling Nawaz for taking money from the ISI, was focusing on resurfacing of the scandal and trying to paint Nawaz as not having committed a big crime.”
As for the issue of his trial was concerned, Musharraf is said to have told his close aides here that Nawaz Sharif was merely paying “lip service” to the issue of his trial under Article 6, as he had already given a word to his powerful benefactors and erstwhile hosts at the time of his (Musharraf’s) resignation that he (Nawaz) would not insist for any such trial.
Sources close to Musharraf also claimed that he clearly knew that the current top Army leadership would not allow such kind of trial, as it would open a Pandora’s box and other generals could be dragged in the case, as they too were part of many controversial decisions in the past, for which demands were being made to put Musharraf on trial. One of Musharraf aides claimed to an extent that even if Nawaz Sharif and his party had been in power today, they could not dare to start his trial under Article 6.
The aide said that Musharraf was quite relaxed and enjoying the cool London evenings, as he felt confident that if he was punished for any crimes committed in the past, then the demand to punish General Aslam Baig, General Hameed Gul and Gen Asad Durrani would also be made for distributing millions of rupees among the politicians in 1988 to defeat PPP in the elections. Musharraf smiles as he tells his friends that none other than Nawaz had taken millions from these retired generals.