Musharraf's visit to China creates controversy

Musharraf's visit to China creates controversy

Former Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf, a proclaimed offender against whom an arrest warrant is pending in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case, was extended "courtesies" by the Pakistani Embassy here during his visit last week, stirring up a controversy back home.

Pakistan's Embassy today refuted reports that he was extended an official protocol while on a visit here.

A spokesman of the Embassy clarified that Musharraf, currently in exile, was only extended "normal courtesies" when he visited the mission during his visit to Beijing last week.

"Embassy of Pakistan extended normal courtesies to General (retd) Pervez Musharraf in his capacity as former President of Pakistan as per the existing practice", a spokesman of the Pakistan Embassy here said in a clarification carried by the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan news agency.

The clarification was issued to refute a report by the Pakistan Online news agency that the former President was given an official protocol even though Pakistan government is reported to have approached Interpol for his arrest and extradition in connection with the assassination of Bhutto in 2007.

Asked about Musharraf's visit, the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei said he came to China last week at the invitation of the Chinese People's Institute of International Affairs, an official think-tank that invites prominent leaders and scholars for interaction.

Musharraf, a frequent visitor to China during his Presidency, is reported to have addressed the meeting at the Institute on the China-Pakistan relations as well as war on terrorism.

His visit came ahead of reports that President Asif Ali Zardari would visit here to take part in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, (SCO) being held here early next month. Pakistan is an observer in organisation.

Zardari, a frequent visitor to China, like his predecessor Musharraf is scheduled to come on week long visit.

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