Lord Ahmed, Musharraf lock horns again Wednesday, February 17, 2010
By Murtaza Ali Shah
LONDON: Away from the turmoil of the country that he ruled with an iron-fist for about eight years and left it in a big mess on almost every count, Pervez Musharraf has hit the London social circuit with think-tank lectures and community meetings with a resurgent confidence.The former president is no more glum and desperate as he was last year when he looked besieged from his PPP and PML-N rivals who were going hoarse about him and his social and constitutional shenanigans and demanding his accountability.
From his London base, protected by top Scotland Yard officers and Musharraf’s own security team as well as a bunch of his acolytes, the former president is loving every moment of living in London by spending a lot of time on eating out at high-class eateries, shopping at Harrods, holding courts with his fans from Pakistani communities.
of Rotherham announced to world that he will help bring war crime charges against the former dictator and get him arrested but since then the campaign set up against Musharraf to raise funds and gather momentum has almost completely faltered.
But Lord Ahmed and the retired general are not done and over with each other yet. They famously clashed and exchanged expletives at a public meeting in the House of Lords in July last year when Musharraf was invited by Khalid Mahmood, MP. A large number of PML-N activists turned up to stop the meeting and nasty scenes broke outside the meeting hall as the supporters of Musharraf clashed with PML-N activists.
The similar scenes are likely to occur again as Musharraf has accepted the invitation to deliver a leadership lecture on 23rd of February on the invitation-only gathering of Lord Sheikh and Cdr Sarfraz Anjum (former Mayor of Saffron Walden). Although the Lord Nazir Ahmed has opposed the proposed meeting and says this event will bring the upper chamber of the British Parliament into disrepute.In a letter to Black Rod, the custodian of the House of Lords, Lord Ahmed said the proposed meeting will attract protests and negative Pakistani media attention.
Urging the House of Lords authorities not to allow this meeting, he cites a precedence set when he invited Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to hold a press conference after the tragic death of his mother Benazir Bhutto, and was advised by the then Black Rod that the meeting would attract unnecessary attention and that the venue could even become a target for a terrorist attack.“I feel that as the retired General claims that his life is under threat, and seeks Scotland Yard’s Special Branch Security for his visits to Parliament, that this meeting is a security matter you need to consider very seriously,” Lord Ahmed writes in his letter.
But Anjum announced yesterday that the meeting will go ahead at any cost and accused that anti-Musharraf Pakistanis were acting on behalf of their political godfathers in Pakistan. “We should not unnecessarily exaggerate events or import emotional Pakistani politics into the UK. The Palace of Westminster should not be held hostage by anyone. We are proud of the fact that we are British and we strongly value democracy and freedom of expression. Unfortunately, there are some who still have not learnt the true meaning of these principles and who do not support tolerance and freedom of expression,” Anjum said in a statement sent to The News.
Lord Sheikh, who has booked the place for 23rd February on his name, appealed to all parties to keep politics out. He told The News that the great leader will only talk about the leadership, the team management issues and building spirits. “He will tell the Muslim youth how they can achieve big positions in life.”Barrister Saif, Musharraf’s official spokesman who is busy organizing support for Musharaf to launch his political career formally, told The News that Musharraf was impressed by the number of invitations he was receiving from overseas Pakistan, especially British Pakistanis.“After all, people are getting to realize now that Musharraf was not as bad a person as portrayed in the media. People are able to see the other side of the coin now and it’s all good for Musharraf,” said Saif, who also agreed that Musharraf was seriously considering launching his political career soon and Brigadier (retired) Rashid Qureshi, Dr Sher Afgan Niazi , Nisar Muhammd Khan and quite a number of important people were advising him to enter into politics as soon as possible. “The nation needs him today.”
A key member of Musharraf’s London cabinet, on condition of anonymity, told The News that the retired general’s spirits are high because the political squabbling and judicial tussle in Pakistan are exposing the reality of the government and the friendly opposition to Pakistanis.