The source said that the Saudis may prefer to stay away from the internal politics of Pakistan after the Sharif incident after which, for the first time in the countryâ€™s history, the media and civil society voiced concern over the Saudisâ€™ role.
Saudi authorities, however, are sending a senior government official to gain a first hand view of the situation arising out of the impeachment move.
Disappointed with his American friends, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who faces impeachment by the ruling coalition, has sent an “SOS message” to the Saudi authorities, a source said on Monday.
“The message was sent through a senior Saudi diplomat based in Islamabad,” the source said, adding the President has received a response that is “not very positive”.
The source said Saudi authorities, however, are sending a senior government official to gain a first hand view of the situation arising out of the impeachment move.
The source, privy to the developments in Islamabad, said that Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Ali Awadh Asseri would also be soon returning home after cutting short his private visit to his homeland.
Musharraf, when he seized power in October 1999 after overthrowing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, had sent him into exile in Saudi Arabia.
Later, when Sharif attempted to return to Pakistan last year, Musharraf persuaded the Saudi authorities to “take him back” and he was bundled off after spending over two hours at Islamabad airport. This invited criticism of Saudi authorities, which otherwise command respect among the majority of Pakistanis.
However, in November last year, Sharif with the help of Saudi Arabia returned to Pakistan to lead his party in the February general elections. Since then, he has been campaigning against Musharraf and was instrumental in convincing his allies in the ruling coalition to impeach the president.
The source said that the Saudis may prefer to stay away from the internal politics of Pakistan after the Sharif incident after which, for the first time in the country’s history, the media and civil society voiced concern over the Saudis’ role.
“What I know is that Musharraf may be offered permanent residence in Saudi Arabia if he resigns. The Saudis may manage amnesty for him, sparing him from further humiliation and high treason charges,” said the source.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Parliament opened a crucial session on Monday and is likely to take up an impeachment motion against beleaguered Musharraf, who has vowed not to quit under any circumstances.
Ahead of the convening of the 342-member National Assembly, lower house of Parliament, the lawmakers from the PPP-led ruling coalition held a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to discuss how they would go about the procedure to impeach the President.
During the coalition’s meeting, it was decided that the Assembly session will continue till Musharraf’s impeachment. The 100-member Senate, the upper house, is already in session.
A committee of PPP and PML-N leaders drafting a chargesheet against Musharraf also had its third meeting on Monday and decided to meet again today to finalise the document containing allegations of misconduct, violation of the Constitution and financial irregularities against the Musharraf.
‘Prez will not quit’
Presidential spokesman Major General Rashid Quresi has said Musharraf will not step down “in any situation.”
He said the ruling coalition has not even yet presented a formal chargesheet against Musharraf, who turned 65 on Monday.
Leaders of the ruling coalition have accused Musharraf of incompetence, pursuing economic policies that have brought Pakistan to the brink of an economic crisis, violating the Constitution and criminal acts.
After the four provincial assemblies pass separate resolutions asking Musharraf to seek a vote of confidence in Parliament, the PPP-led coalition will submit an impeachment motion and chargesheet against him in the National Assembly.
The impeachment motion needs to be passed by a two-thirds majority or 295 members during a joint sitting of Parliament.
IN CASE HE resigns…
US wants ‘honourable stay’ for Mush
Washington, pti: The US may not want to interfere in the impeachment process against Musharraf terming it as an internal affair, but is apparently willing to help ensure “full indemnity” and “honourable stay” in Pakistan should he agree to quit.
US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson has consulted White House and State Department officials on the PPP-led government’s decision to impeach Musharraf, the Dawn daily quoted diplomatic and US official sources as saying.
The Pakistani government wanted some senior US official or lawmaker to publicly persuade Musharraf to quit, an approach similar to the one adopted in case of Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. The US wants to use its influence to arrange a secure and honourable stay for Musharraf in Pakistan, the sources were quoted as saying.