Former Dictator escapes assassination attempt hours after being turned down
Islamabad: Former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf narrowly escaped Thursday when a blast hit a bridge in Islamabad after his convoy had barely crossed it, police said.
The blast at Faizabad bridge occurred early Thursday when Musharraf was en-route to his farmhouse in Chak Shahzad from the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) in Rawalpindi, Dawn online reported.
Almost four to six kg of explosive material was planted in a pipeline near a footpath and the blast was so powerful that it caused a foot-deep hole in the ground.
Police said that the blast targetted the former president.
Musharraf has safely reached his farmhouse in Chak Shahzad where the Pakistan government has enhanced security. Musharraf has been targeted earlier too though some, according to his critics, were likely ‘inside’ jobs by his erstwhile friends within the establishment.
The latest round of publicity will not hurt his campaign to get out of the country, that would provide an escape for him from the serious treason charges that he faces in Pakistan.
This week, Musharraf got some really bad news as Pakistan government under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif rejected his application to travel abroad even though the powerful army chief Gen. Reheel Sharif himself advocated for Musharraf.
The interior ministry while notifying the decision said Musharraf ‘s application cannot be accepted in public interest as a number of cases were pending against him in various courts.
Musharraf is facing five counts of high treason that potentially carry death penalty or life imprisonment. Since his return to Pakistan in March last year, Musharraf has faced prosecution in four major cases, including for his alleged involvement in the murder of former PM Benazir Bhutto in 2007 and the killing of Baloch nationalist leader Akbar Bugti in 2006.
Musharraf will now approach the judiciary seeking removal of his name from the ECL, sources said.
In the meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif seems to be asserting his authority, having had the courage to say no to the Army Chief.
Musharraf is finding that there are less and less people willing to believe him as recent reports have indicated that he knew about slain al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his place of hiding. An eminent British journalist who reported for years from Afghanistan and Pakistan for the New York Times, Carlotta Gall in her book ‘The Wrong Enemy’, attributes the information as coming from retired Pakistani general Talat Masood.
“If allowed to proceed, the court cases may unravel some of the remaining mysteries of the Musharraf era,” Gall writes in her book.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the book is scheduled to go on sale in April 8.
“One day as he sat at home in Islamabad, the retired general Talat Masood was watching an interview with Musharraf on television, Masood was struck by something the general said. Musharraf was talking about (Osama) bin Laden and as was often the case, he was talking too much,” she writes.
“It dawned on Masood that the former army chief had known about bin Laden and where he was hiding. It was a statement he made in the interview,” he told me.
“I got a feeling that he knew,” Gall said in her book that makes startling revelation and runs into over 300 pages.
Masood is the same general who after 9/11 urged Musharraf, the then president of Pakistan, to abandon his policy of supporting terrorism.
But Musharraf, according to the book, argued that he would “compartmentalise” the support between al-Qaida and Kashmiri terrorists.
“Masood, the senior in age, says he warned Musharraf that, from experience, it would not be possible to close one operation down and not the other. Still, Musharraf insisted he could do it,” Gall writes.
According to Gall, after 9/11, when Musharraf assured the West, in particular the United States that he would cut off support for the Taliban, he in fact planned to keep the thousands of fighters who returned from Afghanistan in reserve, hidden somewhere.