12 Pak Army officers guarding Musharraf in London

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Islamabad, Aug.6 (ANI): Twelve officers of the Pakistan Army have deputed at former president Pervez Musharraf's luxurious residence on Edgware Road, London, for his security and for providing him daily services.

According to sources, this team is being paid a huge amount per month from the national exchequer.

The News quoted former Chief of the Army staff (COAS) Mirza Aslam Beg, as saying that according to the rules and regulations of the Pakistan Army, no such protocol was permissible for an ex-Army chief.

Beg disclosed that some years back there was some rule of providing a batman, a PS, a driver and an Army telephone to an Army chief on his retirement.

"But Benazir Bhutto, during her second tenure as prime minister, had ordered the then COAS Jahangir Karamat to withdraw these facilities from me," Beg said, adding: "This rule of providing no facility to an ex-Army chief made on the orders of Benazir Bhutto still prevails."

Beg said no soldier or officer of the Pakistan Army could be deputed with an Army chief after his retirement for security purposes. Provision of such a facility in a foreign country is simply out of the question. Beg, however, held the present government responsible for this, saying the Army chief could not do so on his own.

Pakistan Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas refuted Beg's view, saying that according to rules, a certain number of staff could be deputed with an ex-Army chief.

"I am not sure for what duration this staff can remain with an ex-Army chief," Athar Abbas said when asked whether this staff had been deputed with Musharraf for some limited time.

"I will not say more than this," he said when asked whether according to these rules the staff deputed with an ex Army chief was also allowed to move to other countries if the ex-Army chief opted to leave the country.

Musharraf's ex-spokesman Major General (retired) Rashid Qureshi lost his temper when asked for his comments on the issue.

"Everybody has seen your bias and prejudice. No one likes to talk to you," he said of the paper or the entire media.

Musharraf's spokesman, Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif, when approached in London for comments, said: "Yes, there are some Army officials deputed with Musharraf but according to my knowledge some of them have resigned from their Army positions."

Saif, however, admitted that the 12-member team was headed by a serving Colonel, Ilyas, of the Pakistan Army.

When asked whether according to rules Musharraf, as an ex-Army chief, could have such a protocol, Saif replied that this question should be put to the Pakistan Army.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Government has directed its High Commission (HC) in London to give former dictator General (retired) Pervez Musharraf full protocol of ex-president during his stay in London.

The News quoted Pakistan's High Commissioner to the UK, Wajid Sham-ul-Hassan, as saying: "We are bound to act in line with the directions of Islamabad and we have been formally directed by the Foreign Office that Pervez Musharraf should be given the protocol of an ex-president, which we are giving to him."

Wajid said the high commission used to send a protocol car and a protocol officer to receive and see off Musharraf whenever he arrived or left the UK. He said they also arranged for a VIP lounge for Musharraf, but the ex-dictator paid the money. (ANI)

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