The University of London has stated that it would not allow All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) president Pervez Musharraf to use its venue to take part in a question and answer recording session for a private Pakistani television. A channel had announced that Musharraf will “answer your questions on a range of world issues, from ’99 take over to the War on Terror and Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification” at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Khalili Theatre on August 24. The SOAS came under extreme pressure after the event with the former military dictator was announced. The college was told by at least three groups that it will protest during the event and activists.
Pakistan Solidarity Campaign, a group of Pakistani activists from various progressive groups, wrote to the SOAS and launched a petition calling on the university to “immediately revoke permission” to host Musharraf, reports Geo TV. It said that allowing General (retd) Musharraf will “send the wrong message that the SOAS and the British Government support military coups, state-sponsored violence, and humanitarian crimes in Pakistan”.
The Campaign said that Musharraf was “not only a military ruler who has toppled a democratically-elected government,” but was involved in abduction, torture and humiliation of human rights activists and political opponents including supporting political and religious groups with links to violence.
“The SOAS academics and students have been at the forefront in the campaign for the restoration of democracy and for the rule of law in Pakistan. I condemn providing an academic platform to Gen. Musharaf for his projection. He has violated the Constitution of Pakistan and is declared absconder by the court in Pakistan. The SOAS was not involved with planning the event; it was being arranged by a private Pakistani TV as their private event,” Nadir Cheema, an academic at SOAS, said.
Pakistan Society President Khadeejah Shahid said that SOAS’s PakSoc had no relation with the event and “we don’t get involved in Pakistani politics”. The University of London ‘s cancellation comes few days after Musharraf was forced to leave an event midway at Nobel Peace Centre due to a protest by some of the participants.