‘Musharraf to be denied safe exit if he doesn’t quit’

August 11th, 2008 - 2:16 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf

Islamabad, Aug 11 (IANS) Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf will be denied a safe exit from the country if he doesn’t quit ahead of an impeachment move against him in parliament, western diplomats here have been told. The diplomats, who met Asif Ali Zardari, co-chair of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) that leads the country’s ruling coalition, were “clearly told” that if Musharraf didn’t quit, “the government would not be in a position to provide him a safe exit and he may be placed on the Exit Control List (ECL)”, The News reported Monday.

Among those who met Zardari were Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy Peter Body and “two other important officials who had come from Washington to discuss Musharraf’s fate”, it said, quoting competent sources.

The embassy’s press attaché, Lou Fintor, told the newspaper: “We cannot confirm or deny the meeting but we regularly meet with a variety of Pakistani officials, though we do not generally discuss the substance of these meetings.”

The coalition leaders have also cautioned Western capitals that any effort or appeal from their governments favouring Musharraf would not be welcomed.

Zardari and Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the other major party in the coalition, “are determined to turn the most trusted friend of America in Pakistan into an example because they are sure that the army is no longer supporting Musharraf”, The News said.

“They understand that if the army is claiming to be neutral, nobody except (US President George) Bush is in a position to save him.

“They would like to send a clear message to Bush, and may already have sent it through discreet channels, that his interference in the politics of Pakistan will spread more anti-Americanism in the only Muslim nuclear power in the world, so he should not call anyone in Pakistan to save Musharraf,” the newspaper added.

Interestingly, Bush is refusing to take telephone calls from Musharraf, “making him a really angry man”, and this “is being discussed at every private sitting and every drawing room in Islamabad”.

“The president is not just disappointed with Bush, he is also not happy with some of his old friends in uniform,” The News said.

Quoting informed insiders, the newspaper said Musharraf “has tried to call his American buddy many times in the last few days but in vain as Bush is not available”.

“Why Bush is not coming on the line may be obvious to all those who know how Washington changes its policies, and turns its eyes away from people who are no longer in a position to serve its interests,” The News said.

The coalition leaders have also informed some Western diplomats that they had solid evidence of corruption and embezzlement against the president and some of his close family members.

Reacting to these charges, Musharraf’s spokesperson has denied he had “misappropriated” millions of dollars of military aid provided to Pakistan by the US since the 9/11 terror attacks.

“The allegations are absurd and baseless. Every penny that we got in aid since 2001 has been accounted for,” presidential spokesperson Rashid Qureshi Sunday told DPA.

Zardari alleged in an interview with Britain’s Sunday Times that Musharraf had “not been passing on all the $1 billion a year that the Americans have been giving for the armed forces”.

“The army has been getting between $250 and $300 million reimbursement for what they do, but where’s the rest?” Zardari asked.

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