London: 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 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 takeover 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 in 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.
It was told that the SOAS allowing Musharraf a platform will mean undermining the rule of law in Pakistan.
“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.
Yesterday, the main Student Union of SOAS joined the Pakistan Solidarity Campaign in announcing various layers of protest and forced the university to cancel the permission of the event.
The SOAS has confirmed by issuing a statement that it had “not invited Pervez Musharraf to speak at the school and no such event is taking place here”.
It confirmed that a “room booking request” was made by a student and “that the student has now in fact withdrawn the request”.
The SOAS said that the student who had applied to book the event has already withdrawn his request.
“We have proper procedures in place for managing proposed events by student societies. At no point was an event confirmed or accepted by the SOAS, nor was any event planned and organised in conjunction with the SOAS or in discussion with the Students’ Union,” Geo TV quoted.
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.