[When will someone charge him for some of his many crimes against Pakistan?]
Not to extend visas of Musharraf’s SSG men
By Murtaza Ali Shah
LONDON: The British government has decided to withdraw expensive security contingent containing 3-4 Scotland Yard officers, an armoured car and any protocol to the former president, Pervez Musharraf, The News has learnt.
The British government’s decision follows the release of United Nations inquiry report on the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December 2007 in a bomb attack in Rawalpindi. The UN report lambasted the former dictator and the security agencies for failing to provide adequate security to Benazir Bhutto after her return to Pakistan when the danger to her life from the militants was obvious. The UN report also singled out Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Dr Babar Awan for abandoning the martyred leader at the murder scene.
Before his resignation, President Musharraf had purchased a luxury apartment in the heart of central London on famous Edgware Road, also known as Little Arabia for the rich Arabs throng the area to enjoy luxuries and carefree lifestyle, and has been living here since he left Pakistan with his wife Begum Sehba Musharraf.
Musharraf had brought with him his most trusted Special Services Group (SSG) for a full-time security duty. In the initial months, serving and retired Army officer of major and colonel rank were deputed with him, but the military quietly decided to pull the serving officer out of the security detail.
Highly credible sources toldThe News the British government has decided not to extend the visas of the retired SSG men, who were shadowing Musharraf everywhere. The sources said the SSG men were Musharraf’s most trusted and he would feel incredibly insecure and paranoid without their protection.
In a further blow, the sources said, Pervez Musharraf will no more have the security contingent, armoured car or any protocol provided by the British government. Speaking to Geo television, Musharraf’s spokesman advocate Fawad Chaudhry denied the reports, saying the former president is provided with vehicle and security when required.
Musharraf has been living outside Pakistan, mostly in London, since April 2009. Several cases have been filed against him in Pakistan and courts have also issued notices to him. While in London, the former general has spent his time playing his favourite bridge, eating out at fashionable eateries, visiting theatres and cinemas, protected by the Scotland Yard security team and his own protection men.
Making full use of his time and to make extra money, Musharraf has grabbed any opportunity to deliver lectures at a heavy fee to the speaking circuit in the West. A close aide of Musharraf told The News Musharraf returned from his extensive visit to America, Singapore and Abu Dhabi a couple of days ago and was living in London. He refused to discuss any other matter related to the former president. His loyalists were planning to gather in London after mid-April to make major announcements but the plan didn’t materialise and it is believed that his key supporters will meet in London shortly to deliberate over the political future of Musharraf.
A spokesman for the Pakistan High Commission in London said it had nothing to do with what must have been an arrangement between General Musharraf and the British government. The spokesman added that the Pakistan High Commission — whenever instructed by the Pakistan Foreign office as requested by him, used to send its protocol officer to receive him. The PHC did not provide him any security, car or anything else. It used to be his personal arrangement.
As such the British authorities were not obliged to inform the PHC regarding the withdrawal of security and bullet-proof car given to him.
The spokesman further said the PHC was not aware if the facilities – if any extended to him earlier – have now been withdrawn. A spokesman at the British Home Office stuck to the usual official position of neither denying nor confirming the questions on Musharraf’s security. “We do not comment on security arrangements for individuals and organisations,” said the spokesman.
Lord Nazir Ahmed, who has been at the forefront of campaigning against Musharraf and his engagements in London, welcomed the news and said he would be writing to the police and the prime minister again to make sure that Musharraf is not accorded the protocol again.
He (Musharraf) should remain as an ordinary citizen here, Britain is a safe place and we should not waste any public money needlessly. Lord Ahmed asked the government of Pakistan to issue red warrants against the former president and make him to stand trial for the numerous charges he is facing in Pakistan. “I am asking President Asif Ali Zardari not to hesitate in doing everything to bring Musharraf to justice,” he added.