LONDON: The University of London refused to host former president Gen Pervez Musharraf who was due to speak at a recording of a Pakistani TV programme on Thursday at one of the university’s leading institutions, the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).
The event was supposed to be a question and answer session on topics such as the 1999 takeover, the war on terror, Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification and the army’s tough stance on India.
Adversaries of the retired general raised objections to the University for allowing a former military ruler to speak on the platform. It was feared that upon organizing the events, there might not only be protests but some people might even make an attempt to disrupt the event.
School of Oriental and African studies made a statement that they were involved in neither the organizing nor the cancelling of the event. According to them, a singular student booked a room for the specific date and later withdrew it on their own accord.
In a turn of events a Facebook page Pakistan Solidarity Campaign UK claimed that they, together with likeminded organizations, had approached the university and submitted a letter demanding for the event to be cancelled. When the cancellation was announced, they posted a message claiming victory and thanking the progressives in London for supporting their cause.
However, these claims have been denied by the central information secretary of Gen Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League, Sam Ali Dada. Ali Dada said that the event was only postponed for a few days since there was a huge response of people wanting to attend it. She further said that General Musharraf will be in London for more than a week.
Baloch activists celebrated the cancellation while other regretted not being able to see the retired general.
Earlier on August 17, General Musharraf was speaking on an event at the Nobel Peace Centre, Oslo, Norway. The Norwegian organization, Dialogue for Peace was responsible for the content and for hosting the event. His lecture was about security policy and the current situation in Pakistan and the South Asian region and approximately 150 people attended the event. The event was stopped when the arguments between supporters and opponents of Musharraf escalated.
In a statement delivered the next day, the Nobel Peace Centre explained that: “As the floor was opened for questions, the discussion between Musharraf’s followers and opponents escalated. When some participants attempted to silence and remove critical voices, we decided to stop the event.”