Yaqoob Malik spent three weeks with The Charleston Gazette in October through the U.S.-Pakistan Professional Partnership in Journalism, a program operated by the International Center for Journalists. He now contributes occasional articles to the Gazette-Mail from Islamabad.ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- It's said that history repeats itself, and it may be happening in Pakistan right now.
Former president, retired Gen. Pervez Musharraf, is facing the same fate in the regime of his political rival -- Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif -- that had been carried out upon Sharif under Musharraf's rule 14 years ago.
Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al Faisal recently arrived in Pakistan, which sparked rumors that he is here to discuss Musharraf's future.
Faisal, in response to media questions in Islamabad on Wednesday, denied having any discussion about Musharraf's trial with Pakistani leaders and explained that Saudi Arabia follows a policy of non-interference in internal matters of other countries.
Earlier, the Pakistani government also denied that the Saudi minister visit was linked to Musharraf's treason trial and explained that the Saudi prince was here to discuss various proposals for cooperation in trade, economy, investment and the energy sector.
The presence of the Saudi minister could be a coincidence, but political and media experts believe his visit could be to rescue the helpless Musharraf, who has received threats on his life from extremists and other rival groups due to his Lal Masjid operation, which resulted in the killing of Baloch chieftain Nawab Akbar Bugti and deposed the country's top judges after he toppled the government of Sharif in October 1999.
It is strongly expected that Musharraf would be exiled to Saudi Arabia or any other favorable country on medical grounds, as he has been in a military hospital since Jan. 2 due to cardiac problems.
The president of the Pakistan People's Party, Punjab Mian Manzoor Watto, while addressing the press in Lahore recently predicted Musharraf will get exile just like Sharif.
This same drama, but with different characters, recalls when a Saudi Prince arrived in Pakistan in December 2000 to rescue Sharif when he was in Attock Fort jail and facing conspiracy and corruption charges in the military regime of Musharraf, which led to the forced exile of Sharif to Saudi Arabia, political analysts observed at the time.
Sharif's supporters sought help from Saudi Arabia for clemency for Sharif and his family on humanitarian grounds, noting that he was suffering from high blood pressure and heart problems at the time.
Sharif was eventually given a double life sentence on the charge of hatching a conspiracy to hijack Musharraf's plane as it returned to Pakistan from China. The Saudi royal family brokered a secret deal that assured the military regime that Sharif would neither give any statement against them nor would he return for at least nine years.
As a result, Musharraf allowed Sharif to go into exile with 18 members of his family, including his younger brother Shabaz Sharif (now chief minister of Punjab).