ISLAMABAD - General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf’s claim of having Pakistan Army by his side appears to have left the army bosses in a quandary, with the military command considering the option of speaking its mind on the issue but so far any decision on this count has not been taken.
As the military’s public relations wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) stays tight-lipped on Musharraf saga, its senior officials, in an apparent bid to avert the media pressure, have advised journalists to ‘wait’ till the issuance of a related statement, an option that is under reported consideration.
Another purported option being considered by the military bosses is to invite a select group of defence correspondents to unofficially brief them on the military’s perspective on Musharraf’s treason trial.
The ISPR officials have been strictly forbidden from any kind of contact with the media since the launch of targeted military offensive in the North Waziristan Agency (NWA). The army’s media managers are finding it hard to deal with the pertinent media queries on a host of issues concerning Pakistan Army, including Pervez Musharraf’s trial.
Earlier on Monday, a senior ISPR official had told some defence reporters, including this correspondent, that the military was expected to issue a late-night press release regarding Musharraf’s trial and the draft press release was with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif for his approval. This had run the ripples of anxiousness and curiosity within the media circles, with reporters making desperate attempts to get hold of the Director General ISPR Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa whose cell numbers were not responding to calls and text messages, and the same was for other senior military officials concerned.
Sensing the media’s interest and mounting pressure, the ISPR official then contacted the journalists again (Monday night) with the information that the press release was not being issued because it was not approved by the army chief, and, he said, it would be released as soon as the said approval was granted.
The same official, who was inaccessible on Tuesday, had also said that a meeting at the General Headquarters (GHQ) was held to discuss whether to issue a press statement or to unofficially brief a select group of journalists on the particular issue while no final decision, according to him, was taken.
The proposed informal interaction between Chief of General Staff (CGS) Lieutenant General Ishfaq Nadeem and the media men was discussed at the GHQ in Monday’s meeting whereby the possibility of allowing the DG ISPR unofficially brief the media on Musharraf issue was also looked into, the source stated.
“The COAS has not taken any decision so far, so nothing can be done,” the senior army officer said.
Questions are being raised about and fingers pointed at the military command following the fresh disclosures made by General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf on army’s support for him. In his recent televised appearances, the ex-COAS has said that Pakistan Army is concerned over his court trial on the charges of breaching the constitution under Article 6 and that he has complete backing and support of the army.
Since then, the military has kept mum on the issue. Against the backdrop of the incumbent army chief’s reportedly close association with Musharraf, pressure is mounting on General Raheel Sharif to speak out his mind on the issue. Gen Raheel Sharif is regarded as Musharraf’s ‘younger brother’ in military circles due to the ex-COAS’ support to the services General Sharif rendered after Major Shabbir Sharif, Raheel’s elder brother, sacrificed his life in the 1971 war. Maj Shabbir, Nishan-e-Haider, was known to be a close friend and a batch mate of Musharraf.