Sep 15, 2009

Safe exit

Dawn Editorial

US responds cautiously to Musharraf’s statement TO the surprise of no one, President Zardari has admitted that a ‘safe exit’ was engineered by international powers for Gen Musharraf (retd) to allow the former president-cum-army-chief to 'play golf in his post-presidential life'.

Left unsaid by President Zardari, but equally obvious, is another aspect of the deal: the point of getting Mr Musharraf safely out of the picture was to allow the civilian politicians to get on with the transition to democracy and to prove that they can govern effectively.

So, where does President Zardari’s admission and Nawaz Sharif’s recent meeting with the Saudi king leave the PML-N’s demand to try Mr Musharraf for treason? To be sure, as a matter of principle the PML-N is not required to adhere to a deal struck with outside powers without its consent on an internal, Pakistani issue. But what the PML-N must do is respect the collec-tive voice of parliament. Therefore, if the PML-N really does want to see Mr Musharraf tried it should take up at the earliest the government’s offer and table a parliamentary resolution calling for Mr Musharraf’s trial. Let parliament vote on the issue and if it decides to call for Mr Musharraf’s trial, let the chips fall where they may.

But it is obvious that at the moment the PML-N does not have the support of a majority of the country’s elected representatives in parliament. There is clearly a cynical element in the MQM’s and the PML-Q’s resistance, for those parties were direct beneficiaries of the Musharraf era. But there are also more pragmatic reasons to avoid a fresh political crisis. The country is faced with myriad problems, none of which will be solved or mitigated by trying Mr Musharraf. More crisis-solving and less crisis-creation, then, is clearly the demand of the times.

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