Saudis jump in to ‘save’ Musharraf

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ISLAMABAD: The government is planning to allow safe passage out of Pakistan to Pervez Musharraf on “humanitarian grounds” after direct possible diplomatic intervention from the Saudi Arabian authorities as a part of a covert deal, a top government functionary revealed on Monday. “The modalities are being given final touches,” the source, a federal minister by portfolio, told the Daily Times in an exclusive day-long interaction at his office. Musharraf’s application for the removal of his name from the Exit Control List (ECL) was discussed during a top-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and attended by Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan and other cabinet members at the Prime Minister’s Secretariat on Monday. Requesting anonymity, a close aide of Musharraf confirmed to this reporter that the application regarding the removal of the ex-general’s name from the ECL will be filed on Tuesday (today). Saudi rulers, who were close to Nawaz as well as Musharraf, have traditionally been involved in the high-profile political deals in the past. During a recent conversation, the Saudi crown prince is said to have showed his “displeasure” with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over the way Musharraf’s case was being handled, especially in the backdrop of his mother’s poor health who, the prince believed, deserved to be attended by his son. In this context, grounds are being paved for Musharraf’s ouster from Pakistan for humanitarian reasons. The legal experts, however, say the former military dictator cannot leave the country without the Supreme Court’s consent. Unless the Supreme Court reviews its decree on federal guarantees over Musharraf’s presence in the country, the government cannot lift the travel restrains against him, according to a highly placed official at the Interior Ministry. The turn of the upcoming events looks to be a replay of the happenings in 2001 when Nawaz Sharif and his family were sent to Saudi Arabia under a deal, and after 13 years, Musharraf would be expecting the same from Nawaz. “The sole difference between then and now is that Musharraf would be allowed safe passage on health grounds,” a source added. 

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