LONDON: The Government of Pakistan has served summons to former military dictator Pervez Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz, former prime minister, in relation to their alleged role in the Lal Masjid operation.
The News has learnt from sources in Pakistan’s Foreign Office that these summons have been issued on the instruction of Pakistan’s Federal Shariat Court. The summons ask the duo to appear before the Commission’s inquiry to determine the facts around the controversial military operation which started after the extremist clerics held up in the capital’s famous mosque engaged in a bloody battle with Pakistan’s armed forces.
When a Pakistan High Commission official arrived at Musharraf’s luxury apartment near Marble Arch here, he was not available and the porter present there refused to sign the receipt. But the directives issued in this regards, The News has learnt, instruct that these summons also be served in London, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and US where Musharraf’s addresses have been identified.
It is understood that the former military leader is currently in Dubai where the summon was served on Thursday afternoon, according to a well-placed source.
The News has learnt that former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz’s wife received the summon at the couple’s London residence. Shaukat Aziz, since leaving Pakistan, has strictly distanced himself from Pakistani politics and has thrown himself into his banking career again and has delivered high-profile lectures across the world. He is advising several leading western banks and is a hot ticket on the banking lecture scene. The notice asks the former PM to appear before the Shariat Commission to record his witness statement.
Several other warrants have been issued against Musharraf by courts in Pakistan but Musharraf remains in self-imposed exile and thus remains outside of the reach of Pakistan’s since 2008 when he left Pakistan under a deal with the current Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government.
The Lal Masjid administration claims that scores of students died during the operation, including Ghazi Abdul Rasheed who declared fight against the state and used heavy fire power against Pakistan’s military units. Musharraf has always said that he initiated the operation after the clerics and their hard-line gun-totting followers challenged the writ of the Pakistani state. He has sternly maintained that the clerics at the Lal Masjid and their supporters have exaggerated the death figures.
There is little chance the two will comply with these summons and subsequently arrest warrants will be issued if there is no compliance with these notices. For the government of Pakistan to ensure that the two appear before the competent Pakistani courts, the relevant foreign governments, including the Interpol, must be involved to execute the deportation. There is no chance of that happening anytime in the near future and there doesn't seem to be any appetite on part of the Pakistani authorities, say legal experts.