By Saeed Qureshi
The first fugitive is Pervez Musharraf, the former COAS and president of Pakistan. The second is Hussain Haqqani, the former ambassador of Pakistan to the United States and the third is Altaf Hussain, the Chairman, founder and godfather of the MQM. They cannot go back to their own country Pakistan for specific reasons.
Pervez Musharraf would be hunted down by the religious outfits for his role in sending army to the FATA against the militants, mostly Taliban. He could also be targeted by al-Qaida operatives and other religious militants for ordering attack on the Lal Masjid and affiliated religious Jamia Hafsa Madrassa (the religious seminary) in July 2007 in which reportedly 154 lives were lost and many more people were injured.
During his presidency, four attempts were made on the life of Musharraf but each time he escaped unhurt. These attacks were made by the groups like Harkat-ul-Mujahideen al-Alam and other affiliates of Taliban within Pakistan. Two such attempts were made during the Lal Masjid siege and one after its completion.
General Musharraf who now resides in London has several criminal cases pending against him. One is about the missing persons, the second about as an accomplice in the murder of PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto and providing inadequate security to her during her public meeting in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007.
He is also accused of ordering the assassination of the Baloch leader Bugti. But apart from that, the Bugti clan is after his life and hefty award has been set aside by the family for anyone who would kill Musharraf.
Pervez Musharraf is currently the president of All Pakistan Muslim League. He wanted to return to Pakistan early 2012 for preparation of the elections and to mobilize his party and organize it. But he had to postpone that plan after the then ISI chief, general Shuja Pasha persuaded him to call off his return to Pakistan.
In the meantime there have been calls from the political parties and socio-political and religious circles to arrest him through the Interpol if necessary. But perhaps there are several legal glitches that have saved the former president from this dreadful eventuality.
For instance, the Abbottabad district and Sessions judge in a missing persons case, passed judgment asking the authorities to declare Pervez Musharraf a proclaimed offender. On 11 February 2011 the Anti Terrorism Court issued an arrest warrant for Musharraf and charged him with conspiracy to commit murder of Benazir Bhutto. On 8 March 2011, the Sindh High Court registered treason charges against him.
It appears Pervez Musharraf has not future in Pakistan and he will have to lead the rest of his life in exile. His case is similar to a former president of Pakistan General Iskander Mirza who died in obscurity and miserable conditions in London, until his death on 12 November 1969.
The second prominent exiled figure is Hussain Haqqani who served at various prestigious posts, the last one being the ambassador of Pakistan in Washington D. C. Before taking over the ambassadorial assignment, Mr. Haqqani had already enjoyed enormous clout within the United States. His profile reveals that, He served as an adviser to three former Pakistani prime ministers and as envoy to Sri Lanka. Besides he was reputed as a prominent journalist, scholar and educator. He is a Senior Fellow and Director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C.
Also he is co-editor of Hudson’s signature journal Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, the Director of the Center of International Relations. He is very intelligent sharp and intellectual. He is a good speaker and an astute analyst of the international affairs. The former ambassador is nowadays serving in Boston University of the US as a Professor of International Relations.
But there are good times and there are bad times in a mans life. Mr. Haqqani has fallen not only on bad but worst times. All of sudden his exceptional ability and distinctive career seems to be blown up in the air and turned useless. He is now looked upon as a traitor to Pakistan.
His sudden yet steep debacle and downfall took a start from the day Osman bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad by the American Navy Seals. The PPP government apprehended the likelihood of army taking over the power. That was perhaps a misplaced apprehension, yet it turned to be an egregious misfortune and an ‘Achilles Heel’ for Ambassador Haqqani.
Mansoor Ijaz an American businessman of Pakistani ancestry alleged that former Pakistan Ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani asked him to deliver a confidential memo to Mike Mullen the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Through the memo the US assistance was sought in averting a military takeover of the civilian government in Pakistan in the wake of the Osama bin Laden raid, and to assist in a civilian takeover of the military apparatus.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan constituted a judicial commission to investigate the origin, purpose and authenticity of the memorandum. The three-member judicial commission concluded in their report released on June12,2012 that the memo had been written under instructions from Haqqani, and that, in doing so, the Ambassador was not loyal to Pakistan and had sought to undermine the security of the countrys nuclear assets, the armed forces, the Inter-Services Intelligence and the Constitution. Haqqani criticized the judicial commission as one-sided and noted that the commission was not a court of law with the authority to establish guilt or innocence.
The Supreme Court, upon hearing the report in session, ordered the former ambassador to appear before the bench in its next hearing and adjourned the case for two weeks until early July 2012. During that period Mr. Haqqani presented himself briefly before the court. Thereafter he left for Untied States although he promised to the court that he would reappear within four days. A larger bench of apex court headed by chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry will now hear the case on January 28.
The last hearing of memo case was held on November 13 2012, in which Haqqani didnt appear due to security concerns. .The chief justice remarked during the November hearing that If he does not come back in accordance with judicial order, the court would be bound to issue an order and then Hussain Haqqani would have to come back under his personal security”. In response to courts orders Mr. Haqqani stated on 14th January that how I will return to the country with no security assurance.
Unfortunately, Haqqani seems to be caught in a proverbial situation of caught between deep sea and devil. It is evident that like president Musharraf, Mr. Haqqani too will live abroad without ever returning to Pakistan unless there is miracle that turns the events upside down.
The third VVIP in self-exile is Altaf Hussain. Altaf Hussain sneaked out of Pakistan one month before the launching of the Operation Clean-up (June 19, 1992 to August 14, 1994). His flight from Pakistan also was the result of an attempt on his life on 21 December 1991 that was the third of its kind. He was given political asylum by the British government and is staying ever since in London.
Recently the MQM boss announced that he was about to launch a drone attack by which it was speculated that he was finally returning to Pakistan. But in his lengthy speech he categorically announced that he had no plans to come back to Pakistan.
Understandably, he cannot return to Pakistan to face several thousand cases of very serious import pending against him. Moreover there could be mortal danger to his life from his opponents who have deep-seated grudge and bitterest feelings of revenge against him. His cases too, along with many thousand other convicts, were pardoned under NRO issued by Pervez Musharraf on October 5, 2007. Yet after the Supreme Court of Pakistan declared it unconstitutional on 16 December 2009, all dropped cases stand revived.
Could these powerful celebrities had ever imagined that with all their clout, powers, magnificence and overwhelming loyalty and support of their adherents, they would fall to such a depth of ignominy, disgrace and even isolation? The power, pelf and their prestigious positions have proven to be ephemeral spells that drifted away like the spent-up clouds.
The moral lesson of such bleak situations is to serve the community, country and the people with honesty, sincerity and selflessness and to walk the right, righteous path. Such a path leads to the lasting gratitude during life and an immortal reverence after death in the hearts of the people that one had served. One such glowing example is that of the Quaid-e-Azam.
The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat.