WPK 220615 NAWAZ AND PERVEZ-1655302825704
Pakistan army chief General Pervez Musharraf (left) greets Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at army headquarters in Rawalpindi in the file picture from June 1999. Image Credit: REUTERS

Islamabad: Pakistan army as well as top politicians, including former three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif, have endorsed the return of ailing ex-military ruler General Pervez Musharraf to his homeland.

Nawaz Sharif, who was ousted in a bloodless military coup in 1999 by then army chief General Pervez Musharraf, has urged the government to facilitate the former military ruler’s return to Pakistan from the UAE due to his poor health. “I do not have a personal enmity or grudge against Pervez Musharraf. I do not want anyone to suffer the distress I have had to endure for my loved ones,” Sharif said on Twitter.

Nawaz Sharif called on the coalition government led by his brother Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to facilitate the return of his one-time political adversary. “I pray to Almighty Allah for his health. The government must facilitate [the travel] if he wishes to return.”

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, who is a close aide of Sharif, said last week there should be no hurdle in the way of Musharraf’s return given his health condition.

Army backs Musharraf’s return to Pakistan

Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif’s tweet came hours after the spokesperson of the armed forces said the Pakistan’s army’s stance was that Musharraf should return home. “Pervez Musharraf’s health condition is serious. The stance of the institution and its leadership is that he should come back,” Major General Babar Iftikhar, director-general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), told a local news channel Dunya News on Tuesday night. Musharraf’s family said he is currently hospitalised due to a complication of amyloidosis, a rare disease that causes a buildup of abnormal amyloid deposits in the body.

The family also rejected reports of Musharraf being on a ventilator. “He has been hospitalised for the last 3 weeks due to a complication of his ailment (Amyloidosis). Going through a difficult stage where recovery is not possible and organs are malfunctioning. Pray for ease in his daily living” read the message posted by his family on his official Twitter account.

Pervez Musharraf seized power in a bloodless coup in October 1999, ousting the democratic government of Nawaz Sharif. In November 2007, the former army chief suspended the constitution and imposed emergency rule which sparked massive protests. In the same November, he retired from the military and took oath as a civilian president. After ruling the country for nine years, he resigned in 2008 to avoid impeachment.

In 2019, he was sentenced to death in absentia for high treason under article 6 of Pakistan’s constitution for suspending the constitution. Musharraf challenged the formation of a special court for the sole purpose of trying him for treason. In January 2020, Lahore High Court overturned the death sentence handed down to former president Pervez Musharraf by declaring the legal process unconstitutional.