LONDON: A panel of top lawyers here has sought legal advice from UK’s well-known human rights law firm Bindmans LLP on the legality of actions of former military dictator Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan.
Stating that the panel has already received its ‘consent to advice’ letter from Bindmans, one member of the panel, Barrister Abid Hussain, told Dawn that the firm had previously acted in the prosecution of Chile’s military dictator General Pinochet and was currently challenging state immunity rules in the European Court on behalf of victims of torture in Saudi Arabia.
In response to the query from the legal panel looking into Musharraf’s case, the firm which claims to be dedicated to protecting rights and freedoms of ordinary people has agreed to give ‘general advice to the families of the affected’.
Meanwhile, Lord Nazir Ahmed, the man behind the movement to have Musharraf tried on charges of war crimes, will be visiting Pakistan next week to talk to families of the affected people all over the country, including Balochistan.
However, according to Sibghatullah Kadri QC, only Moazzam Beg who is a British citizen can go to a court here against the former general on the charge that the latter had him kidnapped in Pakistan and without following due process of law handed him over to the Americans who incarcerated him in Guantanamo Bay for four years.
Mr Kadri was asked for his opinion on Lord Nazir’s plans to have the former general tried in the UK on war crimes charges.
‘You see Chilean military dictator Pinochet was arrested in the UK, a member of the EU and sent back home because citizens of another EU country (Spain) went to their court to have a European warrant issued against him,’ Mr Kadri added.
He said that since Musharraf did not commit any crime in the UK he could not be held accountable in any UK court for what he did in Pakistan except for the alleged ‘kidnapping’ of Mr Beg who holds dual nationality.
He further said that if the UK courts recognised Khan of Kalat’s publicly held position that he and others like him had suffered at the hands of Musharraf and were forced into asylum by him ‘then perhaps the UK courts would listen to pleas of Baloch people living in the UK against Musharraf, especially on charges of the alleged murder of Akbar Khan Bugti’.
In a related development, a couple of well-known British millionaires of Pakistani origin who also have business interests in Pakistan told this correspondent at a function at the Pakistan High Commission on Thursday evening that they had nothing to do with the formation of the so-called ‘Lovers of Musharraf’ group or promotion of Musharraf’s political agenda.
‘Some of his close cronies who have a vested interest in Musharraf’s fate are spreading the canard that the rich British Pakistanis are funding his political ambitions,’ they said.
One of them, Sahibzada Alamgir who is also known as Tipu, said that most British Pakistani businessmen avoided taking political positions either in ‘our country of origin or in Britain though some of us do belong to either the Labour or the Conservative party’.
‘And we do have friends in the political circles of the two countries, like I am a very good friend of former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz,’ he added.