Gen Mirza Aslam Beg
Sunday, June 30, 2013 – The Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared from the floor of the House that General Musharraf would be tried “for treason for his act of 3 November 2007, and not for 1999, to prove that there was no vendetta.” This decision, in fact is an escape from reality. It is not so simply a matter, which could serve the cause of democracy, but it would rather protect those who collaborated with the past military dictators and shared power with them. Let us, therefore be honest to our people and to the cause of democracy and put the civil-military relationship perspective right. By that I mean that we must investigate into the guilt committed by Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Ziaul Haq and Musharraf and all those who collaborated with them, such as the honourable judges, politicians, bureaucrats, the opportunists, abettors and the instigators.
The present judges of the Supreme Court were the main target of 3 November 2007 actions, and themselves they may not be able to sit on judgment for Musharraf’s trial. Sagacity, therefore demands that a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was appointed to investigate into the military take over of 1958, 1968, 1977 and 1999 to identify the perpetrators, collaborators, abettors, the instigators and remove their names from the roll of honour, they occupy, so that our future generations could differentiate between the Black and White. While the memory serves, let us examine the happenings of 12th October 1999, when Musharraf was onboard the PIA flight 805 and was a long distance away from Pakistan, having no contact with his command, on the ground:
(i) At 1600 hrs on 12 October 1999, the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wrote-out the retirement order of Musharraf, in the presence of the DGISI, Lt Gen Ziauddin, his Military Secretary Brigadier Javed Iqbal and his Principal Secretary Saeed Mehdi, and left for the Presidency. The retirement order was “Seen” by the President, but he did not sign it. The PM returned to PM House and the retirement order of Musharraf and the appointment of the new COAS was announced on the national TV, by about 1730 hrs.
(ii) Soon after Brig Javed Iqbal got the disturbing news that 111 Brigade was in action and that the Islamabad TV Station was occupied by Army personnel. He picked up his weapon and rushed tothe TV Station but returned to inform the PM that the “game was over.” The PM House GuardsBattalion, which was part of 111 Brigade, already had secured the PM House. In the absence of the COAS, his subordinates had acted on their own, and had imposed the military rule. The PM and the President were placed under house arrest.
(iii) By 1900 hrs, when Musharraf was some distance away from the country, he was informed by the pilot that he had received instructions from the ground control, that his aircraft was to be diverted to a remote airfield, but he did not. Musharraf landed at the Karachi airport by about 1950 hrs. The Corps Commander at Karachi briefed him about the situation, and Musharraf preferred to stay overnight at Karachi. It was a fait-accompli for Musharraf and he chose to follow the lead given by his subordinates and preferred not to reverse the decision. He took control of the situation and completed the process of take-over. The judiciary supported him, the politicians and the opportunists rallied around him.
Musharraf was appointed Army Chief, after General Jahangir Karamat was removed from command, simply because the general had his own views on the role and functions of the NationalSecurity Council. After the Kargil episode, the PM was very unhappy with Musharraf, and he chose to remove him from command in a manner, which gave the impression of a “civilian coup against the COAS”, and the military high command acted on its own to protect the name of their Chief, because Army is like a family and the family honour was, thus protected by such an action, which is called “honour killing” in our rustic culture. Pakistan is facing myriad problems, demanding total attention of the government and the people to face the challenges and find the way-out. It is unwise to get embroiled with Musharraf’s trial and leave the corrupt and the unscrupulous to their nefarious designs. Our apex courts also are burdened with thousands of pending cases to be decided. Therefore, the best option would be to form the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate into all the past misdeeds, “without digging the old graves” and correct the civil-military relationship perspective for the posterity. We have a distorted history which needs to be corrected.
Why the PM is in such an undue haste for Musharraf’s trial, when people are gasping for breath of life and desperately want him to honour the oath he has taken, to be fair, impartial and beyond personal vendetta? Why the Supreme Court is in such a hurry for Musharraf’s trial to allow only three days to the Attorney General, for the advice for trial under Article-6.The Supreme Court being the aggrieved party, cannot sit on judgment for this trial.
The Pakistani nation has had enough of entertainment through the NRO and Swiss Case soap operas. Fortunately, the Swiss case soap opera, has once again come alive to keep the nation entertained, la courtesy our social media and the Swiss Court, which prefers to honour the fakeletter of Government of Pakistan and not the Supreme Court letter seeking clarifications. These are very challenging times for Nawaz Sharif. In fact this is his rendezvous with history. He has to rise above the ordinary and deliver.
The writer is former COAS, Pakistan.