Musharraf’s diplomatic passport was renewed in Jan: Ahsan Iqbal

Islamabad: Former Pakistan President General (Retd.) Pervez Musharraf was not only issued a new passport two months before the expiry of his travel document in March, but his diplomatic passport was renewed in January, being a former head of state, Pakistan Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said on Tuesday.

Iqbal claimed that the diplomatic passport of Musharraf was renewed ‘out of fear’ that he might use it as an excuse for not returning home to face the 2013 high-treason case.

“He needs a passport to travel back to Pakistan. He would have contended that without a passport he cannot travel and would have blamed the (Pakistan) government for blocking his return,” he said in response to a query about the renewal of the former military ruler’s passport.

“His passport was to expire on March 16, 2018, but he sought an early renewal as international travel. In many cases, is not possible with a passport having less than six-month validity. Initially, the government was reluctant to renew his passport and withheld the application for nearly two months but it was finally renewed from Dubai on January 5 for the next five years,” Iqbal was quoted by The Dawn as saying.

However, it is not clear whether any specific permission was given for a diplomatic passport to be renewed for Musharraf and who gave it.

A source in Musharraf’s party, the All Pakistan Muslim League said that the Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) was holding up the application but when the former Pakistan president’s aide-de-camp Major Shehryar “contacted someone”, the process went ahead. His diplomatic passport was issued after authorisation.

According to an FO source, it revealed that “no record of the correspondence pertaining to Musharraf’s passport renewal could be traced in its consular section and the matter was referred to the interior ministry which had then allowed the renewal.”

Pakistan FO spokesperson Dr. Muhammad Faisal said he was unaware of the issue.

A Pakistan special court on Friday asked the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government to suspend Musharraf’s passport and Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) in regards to the high-treason case.

According to legal experts, the order by the special court is significant as it will help to halt the movement of Musharraf abroad.

Last week, the special court ordered the Pakistan government to arrest Musharraf and confiscate his properties in the high-treason case, wherein he had imposed emergency rule in the country in 2007.

Musharraf, who left Pakistan for Dubai in March 2016, was declared a “proclaimed absconder” by the court in May 2016.

Musharraf, who ruled Pakistan for nine years (1999-2008), is wanted in several criminal cases, which also includes the alleged killing of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007.