M A I N   N E W S

Saudi Arabian intelligence chief in Pakistan

Islamabad, August 15
Saudi Arabia today rushed its intelligence chief to Pakistan to broker a deal between embattled President Pervez Musharraf and the ruling coalition that plans to launch impeachment proceedings against him next week, media reports said.

Prince Muqrin bin Abdul-Aziz met Musharraf and leaders of the Pakistan People’s Party-led coalition to discuss the possibility of the President being given a “safe exit” if he steps down, TV channels quoted sources as saying.

There was no official word on the matter and the Saudi embassy declined to comment. Saudi Arabia has close ties with Pakistan and its political leaders and has considerable influence in the country. In the past, it has played a role in brokering understandings to settle political problems within Pakistan.

TV channels reported that Musharraf had sought help from Saudi Arabia for his safe exit in the face of the ruling coalition’s plans to launch impeachment proceedings against him next week.

Prince Muqrin, who is the intelligence chief, is reportedly engaged in efforts to convince Musharraf to resign honourably, and in return the ruling coalition will neither impeach him nor try him in court.

The prince conveyed a message from Saudi King Abdulalh to Musharraf and leaders of the coalition. He also met opposition PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.

The visit has come at a time when pressure is mounting on Musharraf to resign before he is impeached. Tariq Azim, a leader of the pro-Musharraf PML-Q, said yesterday that talks are underway for providing the President a safe exit.

Saudi Arabia had hosted Nawaz Sharif when he was sent into exile in 2000, a year after Musharraf grabbed power in a bloodless military coup toppling Sharif’s government.

Reports have suggested that Musharraf could step down in the next few days. But presidential spokesman Maj Gen (retired) Rashid Qureshi denied these reports and said Musharraf has no such plans. — PTI




Chargesheet ready but has Musharraf struck a deal?
Afzal Khan writes from Islamabad

A special panel of the ruling coalition on Friday is reported to have almost finalised the chargesheet for impeaching President Musharraf amid a firewall of speculations that the General has reached a deal with the government to quit under certain condition even prior to introduction of the impeachment resolution.

“It is a bulky document with some startling revelations that have come our way,” Raza Rabbani, leader of the House in the Senate and a key member of the panel said.

Representatives from the PPP and the PML-N attended the meeting. Information minister Sherry Rehman said the panel had completed its deliberations and would submit a report to the coalition leadership for the final approval of the draft.

The Pakistani media was awash with reports that a deal brokered by relevant domestic and diplomatic quarters had been struck that would facilitate Musharraf’s resignation and allow him a safe passage or indemnity from trial on charges of sedition, subversion of the Constitution, misconduct and criminal offences.

A senior British official and former ambassador to Pakistan, Mark Layll Grant, is in Pakistan and has met top political leaders besides President Musharraf, to work out a plausible settlement. Grant played a key role in brokering Musharraf-Benazir Bhutto deal last year.

He has discussed the issue with PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif amid reports that Sharif has been softened to show flexibility on his stance that Musharraf must face the criminal trial.

Defence minister Ahmed Mukhtar, confirmed that the talks were underway to provide safe passage to the President. Mukhtar said the nation would be informed when these talks came to fruition.

Another federal minister Khurshid Shah also said the government was willing to provide Musharraf a safe exit and adequate security he was demanding if he stayed on in Pakistan. But former Governor Mustafa Khar said it would not be possible for Musharraf to stay inside Pakistan after leaving the Presidency. “There is so much blood on his hand that he cannot live a civilian life in his own country”, English daily The News quoted Khar as saying.

PML-N leader and former finance minister Ishaq Dar, who is also a member of the panel drafting the chargesheet confirmed that the draft was virtually ready. He refuted reports that the coalition was delaying this matter in order to break Musharraf’’ nerves and force him to resign before the introduction of the impeachment resolution.

A close aide of Musharraf told media that Musharraf was waiting for the chargesheet to be made public so that he could rebut it to vindicate his position and then submit his resignation.

His current legal adviser Hafeez Pirzada told a TV channel that the Supreme Court condoned most of the allegations being mentioned in the chargesheet.

He said the impeachment proceedings could last very long. In the meantime the Supreme Court could also intervene, he added.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |