Some people express doubts about the Pakistan army’s commitment to eradicating all Islamist terrorist groups. (and there can be no doubt that it IS the Pakistani army that makes such decisions in Pakistan. ..PMLN, PPP, ANP may be in “power” here or there, but security and foreign affairs are ultimately run by the army and if they are not on board, no strategy can possibly work). Others point to the thousands of soldiers killed in the line of duty and insist that the security forces are doing all they can and criticism is just “playing into the hands of our enemies”.
Is there a way to tell who is right?
Suppose you have no inside information. Just from public sources, can you tell if they are doing all they can? I believe you can. And just off the top of my head, lets look at a couple of things we can use as metrics:
1. The enemy is identified and targeted AS the main enemy. For example, British security services fighting their own dirty war against the provisional IRA were fighting, first and foremost, the IRA. Their Irish-American supporters, Irish Republic politicians, the KGB, Gaddafi, whatever, could all be blamed for supporting them (they could even be mentioned as the one thing that keeps the IRA going, take X out and they will collapse, etc), but there was no question about who the enemy was. Is this true in Pakistan? I don’t think so. The main focus of the state’s impressive psyops machine seems to be to identify India or Israel or the USA (or all three, or “Hinjews” or whatever) as the cause of our problems, with the actual terrorists (who never happen to be Hindus or Jews or Americans) being nothing more than misguided or paid youth whose own aims and ambitions play no real role in this campaign. i.e., on this point, GHQ is clearly NOT doing what any outside observer would expect. They don’t spend a lot of time and effort identifying, demonizing and targeting the organizations and people who actually conduct all these attacks.
2. When a terrorist attack takes place, there is an investigation. It may not be very public, but if you are serious about stopping them, you have to investigate where the perpetrators came from, how and why did they join a terrorist organization, who recruited them, who trained them, who led them, who facilitated them….and you have to go back and roll up all these networks. Only then can you hope to defeat them. This is not rocket science, it is basic police work. Some of this clearly gets done in Pakistan too, but very little of this makes it into the news. Why? Because the facts turned up are inconvenient? Because too much focus on the actual perpetrators and organizations would take away from the “RAW did it” storyline? Because the state still wants to protect some of the Islamist networks? Who knows.. On this point, I have no real inside information, but if you hang around police officers, you do hear a lot of anecdotes about police officers who were stopped from pursuing this or that lead by the “intelligence agencies”. Some of these anecdotes may be self-serving lies. But there IS a lot of smoke. With this much smoke, there may also be fire..
3. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Follow any paknationalist on twitter and facebook. Count the references to RAW and Mossad. Then look for references to Lashkar e Jhangvi, ASWJ, Jaish e Mohammed, etc. Yes. You will find tweets like these (I assure you, this is a representative sample):
By the way, that last tweet reflects a sentiment that I have heard some people express about another country, one created 200 years after Afghanistan came into being..
Don’t believe the Pakistani army could be stupid enough to STILL play double games with terrorists? Set your mind at rest. See General Asad Durrani in action:
Read more about our narratives and issues by clicking on the following links:
At least 50 young people (mostly police recruits, a few guards) have been killed in another terrible terrorist atrocity in Quetta. A police training college was attacked (not for the first time) by terrorists on a road that has seen literally dozens of attacks and has a checkpoint every few hundred yards . The chief law enforcement officer in Balochistan (the head of the paramilitary Frontier Corps) has blamed the Lashkar e Jhangvi al Alami (the worldwide army of Jhangvi, an anti-Shia group) for this attack. This group is supposedly a splinter of the larger (and until recently, semi-legal) Lashkar e Jhangvi, who are themselves the “militant wing” (implausible deniability) of the even larger (and even more legal) ASWJ (supposedly banned, but recently invited to meet the interior minister, who reportedly assured their chief that he was “a man of Islam and therefore a supporter of Islamic parties”), and so it goes.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s incredibly efficient and competent “Inter-Services Public Relations” (ISPR) department (headed by a three star general, probably the only military PR department in the world, perhaps the only one in history, to be led by a three star general; we may not produce Guderians and Rommels, but we do produce Bajwas, Mashallah) is on the job to make sure we all understood how:
A. The army has reacted extremely competently to the attack and the attackers had been killed in short order (this claim has some credibility; our mid-level officers and soldiers are indeed competent, brave and aggressive and deserve some credit)
B. The attackers were talking to someone in Afghanistan and may have had foreign backing (hint hint cough RAW cough cough), so, dear countrymen, the army is off the hook. WE didnt do it and neither did OUR proxies.
C. The army chief will surely fly in soon, raising morale, calling the Afghan president for a chat and generally doing stuff (and need we say, the civilians have no clue).
But what this ISPR effort (with the concurrent appearance of multiple military proxies on TV channels and social media, all claiming that India is behind this attack, as it is behind all attacks) really tells us is that the game remains the same. Even as we were being told that we are the victims of cross-border terrorism and that this was intolerable and no state could allow its neighbors to harbor terrorists who come across the border and kill innocents, OUR terrorists (the good Taliban, the Kashmiri Jihadis) proudly continue killing endless civilians and police and armymen in Kabul, Kashmir, Mumbai, etc. The double game must go on.
General Asad Durrani, ex-chief of the ISI and proud “intellectual soldier” said it best; the deaths of thousands of innocent Pakistanis are the collateral damage of our successful strategy of “winning” in Afghanistan. Which is itself collateral damage of our eternal “war till victory” with India. Great nations have to be willing to make small sacrifices. And what are a few thousand dead people in the greater scheme of things? and of course, what are a few lies between friends?
Watch at 9 minute mark onwards. Please do. You will not regret it.
What more can one say? There are, literally, no words.
Meanwhile, Chori Nisar’s meeting with the ASWJ and the good terrorists of various stripes is a clear indication that nothing will change because nothing CAN change. If we are the citadel of Islam and India is our eternal enemy whose current borders we intend to change (by force, there being no other obvious way of doing so), then the rest follows like the cart follows the horse. We cannot really ban the Islamic parties because they are the truest expression of our Islamic millennial dreams and (more to the point for geniuses like Durrani sahib) the source of our most motivated proxy warriors. We cannot ban the ASWJ because all the Islamists are cousins and you cannot act against one without upsetting the others. Or, maybe because they might attack GHQ if they get upset (believers in the importance of ideas can go with theory #1, pragmatists will prefer #2; either way, these people cannot be targeted too hard). And if we cannot ban the Islamists and we cannot ban the ASWJ, then the Lashkar e Jhangvi will always be around too, because they all support each other and the same swamp that breeds LET types will always breed LEJ types too. And so it goes. Until the next atrocity.
PS: some friends will no doubt want to talk about the CIA and the Saudis, but I do believe that while the CIA and the Saudis were our paymasters and teachers for decades, the CIA is no longer interested in promoting Pakistani Jihad and even the Saudis are having second thoughts. The people who are NOT yet having second thoughts are the geniuses like General Durrani (and we can have no doubt that his successors in GHQ feel the same way he does) who feel a thrill of pride at having defeated their second superpower (China will be number 3, inshallah). And so it goes.
By the way, as shown in the above poster, the LET is holding a funeral in absentia for one of its terrorists/militants/freedomfighters killed in an attack in Kashmir that killed soldiers (on a smaller scale) similar to the attack on the police training center in Quetta. To own one and condemn the other would be morally shaky, though perfectly reasonable in terms of war. But the weird thing is, most people in Pakistan (even as many of them accept the necessity and even support the ideals of this war) do not really go about their lives as if we were at war with India. We get upset that our artists are not permitted free travel and opportunities in India or that Modi is not as “soft” with our establishment as past Congress regimes have sometimes been in public pronouncements… but it may be time to think about this: it is possible to have your cake and eat it too, but not forever.. Sure, if we are fighting a 1000 year war for Kashmir (and beyond), then so be it. We will have our successes and our enemies will have theirs. But have we really thought this through?
Down memory lane with the life of PA-1 MG Muhammad Akbar Khan
Major General Muhammad Akbar Khan
Major General Muhammad Akbar Khan (1897-1993) was the senior most Muslim officer at the time of independence in 1947. He was the son of Risaldar Major Fazal Dad Khan (1847-1943). Fazal Dad was a Minhas Rajput from Chakwal area. His family’s fortune was linked with Sikh durbar. After the demise of Sikh rule and emergence of British Raj, family recovered some of the lost fortunes under British patronage. Fazal Dad served with 12th Cavalry and after a long service granted the title of Khan Bahadur. He was granted a large amount of land by the British and had three estates in Montgomery (Sahiwal), Chakwal and Lyallpur (Faisalabad). He established a horse stud farm on one of his estate. Fazal Dad had cordial relations with senior British army and civilian officers. Commander-in-Chief Field Marshall Lord Birdwood, Archibald Wavell (later Viceroy) and Sir Bertrand Glancy (later Punjab governor) had close relationship with Fazal Dad. Fazal Dad married four times. Six sons of Fazal Dad Khan joined Indian army and all were polo players.
Five brothers of Major General Muhammad Akbar Khan served in the army. Major General Muhammad Iftikhar Khan was commissioned in August 1929 and joined 7th Light Cavalry. He was transferred to 3rd Cavalry when later regiment was Indianized. During Second World War, he served with newly raised 45th Cavalry. He was nominated as first Pakistani C-in-C. He died in 1949 in a plane crash at Jang Shahi before assuming the office. His wife and son also perished in the same crash. Brigadier Muhammad Zafar Khan was commissioned in 1934. He retired as Director Remount, Veterinary & Farm Corps (RV&FC). Brigadier Muhammad Yousef Khan was commissioned in 1935. He also retired as Director RV&FC. Brigadier Muhammad Afzal Khan was commissioned in 1935 and joined 16thLight Cavalry. Later he transferred to Royal Indian Army Service Corps (RIASC). Major General Muhammad Anwar Khan was commissioned in 1936 in the Corps of Engineers. He was the first Pakistani Engineer-in-Chief (E- in-C) of Pakistan Army.
Two brothers didn’t join the army and settled in England. Muhammad Tahir Khan was a lawyer and settled in England. Muhammad Masood Raza Khan was the most enigmatic of all. He had BA in political science and MA in English literature from Punjab University. He was enrolled at Oxford. Although he inherited most of his father’s estate but he was ready to renounce his feudal heritage at an early age. He was an intellectual but psychologically disturbed. In an ironic twist, he made an appointment with a psychoanalyst when he landed in London but by mistake they thought he wanted to be trained as a psychoanalyst. He ended up a leading psychoanalyst of his times, highly respected by other professionals and made wide ranging friends from aristocracy, film and theatre. He lived in London and travelled widely giving lectures on psychoanalysis.
Akbar Khan enlisted in the army in May 1914 and served with his father’s regiment 12th Cavalry. In July 1915, he was promoted Jamadar and served with the regiment in Mesopotemia. After the Great War, commissioned officer ranks were opened for Indians. A Temporary School for Indian Cadets (TSIC) was established at Daly College at Indore. Forty two cadets started a one year training course on 15 October 1918. On 1 December 1919, thirty nine cadets qualified but thirty three were granted King’s commission with effect from 17 July 1920. Of the six not granted King’s commission, three resigned, two found unsuitable and one died.
Akbar joined new war time raised 40th Cavalry as Second Lieutenant. This regiment was raised in April 1918 by Lieutenant Colonel James Robert Gaussen D.S.O. of 3rd Skinner’s Horse. Ist Skinner’s Horse contributed one squadron, 3rd Skinner’s Horse two squadrons and 7th Hariana Lancers one squadron for 40th Cavalry. Final composition of the regiment was one squadron of Rajputs and half squadron each of Jats, Sikh, Dogra and Hindustani Mussalmans. Nephew of His Highness Agha Khan, Captain Aga Cassim Shah (originally from 3rd Horse) was one of the squadron commanders of the regiment at that time. In December 1920, Akbar was Quarter Master (QM) of the regiment. 40th Cavalry was disbanded in 1921. In 1921-22 re-organization, 11th Cavalry and 12th Cavalry were amalgamated and Akbar was transferred to 11th /12th Cavalry. This new amalgamated regiment was named 5th King Edward’s Own (KEO) Probyn’s Horse. Akbar served with 5th Probyn’s Horse from 1922 to 1934 and was regiment’s Quartermaster from 1927 to 1931. In May 1934, he transferred to Ist Battalion of 14th Punjab Regiment (now 5 Punjab Regiment of Pakistan army) and participated in the Mohmand Operation. He served as battalion’s adjutant. A year later, he was attached to the Royal Indian Army Service Corps (RIASC) to which he transferred on 5 February 1936 and served in Waziristan operation in 1937. His newly commissioned brother Muhammad Anwar Khan was also serving in Waziristan with 4th Field Company. In 1940, he went to France with Force K6 in France. He was second-in-command (2IC) of No 25 Animal Transport (AT) Company. This force was evacuated to UK and then returned to India. He later served in the Burma Theatre. He used the suffix of ‘Rangroot’ after his name highlighting his rise from the ranks. He was also known as Akbar Khothianwala and Akbar Khaccharwala due to his service with mule companies of service corps.
Photograph: Courtesy of Major General ® Syed Ali Hamid from the album of his father Major General ® Shahid Hamid.
In April 1946, C-in-C Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck presided over a selection board. Several Indian officers were recommended for senior appointments to prepare them for command when British left. Akbar was recommended by the selection board to be Army Commander but it was probably to have a Muslim among the senior ranks of an Indianized army and not for professional excellence. Akbar was the only senior Muslim officer at Brigadier rank while the remaining six recommend for promotions and coveted postings were Hindus. Kodandera Cariappa, Rajindra Sinhji and Nathu Singh were recommended for army commander posts. S. S. M. Srinagesh was recommended for Chief of General Staff (CGS), Ajit Anil Rudra as Adjutant General (AG) and Bakhshish Singh Chimni as Quarter Master General (QMG).
Photograph: Courtesy of Major General ® Syed Ali Hamid from the album of his father Major General ® Shahid Hamid.
On 15 August 1947, Akbar was promoted Major General and appointed head of the formation called Sind and Baluchistan area. It was later re-designated Sind area and on 1 January 1948, it was re-designated 8th Division. Karachi sub area was designated 51st Brigade on 1 November 1947 and Quetta sub area re-designated 52nd Brigade in September 1948. 8th Division headquarter was in Karachi and in May 1948, headquarter was moved to Quetta. Akbar was in command during all these transitions. His Indian Army (IA) number was 90 and Pakistan Army (PA) number was 1 as he was the senior most officer of Pakistan army. He retired on 7 December 1950 handing over command of 8th Division to Major General Adam Khan. In June 1930, he was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).
It is not clear why Akbar first transferred to infantry and later RIASC although he had good annual reports when he was serving with 5th Probyn’s Horse. Early in his career, his squadron commander wrote ‘a very capable young officer …. commands the respect of all the Indian ranks’. His commanding officer wrote, ‘Above the average in brains and energy …. keen on his work and good at games …. a promising Cavalry officer’. Other annual reports noted, ‘One of the most efficient King’s Commissioned Indian gentlemen I have met’ and ‘an officer of distinct ability who should take a prominent part in the process of Indianisation of the Indian Army’. Major General commanding at Peshawar wrote in his Annual Confidential Report (ACR),’One of the best of our Indians holding King’s Commission’. In 1946, Delhi area commander Major General Freeland wrote about Akbar ‘A level headed and most staunch officer. He is more of a commander than a Staff Officer. I have great confidence in him’.
Extra Regimental Employment (ERE) with Frontier Scouts, Burma Military Police and RIASC carried additional monetary allowance. Indian officers were not posted to Frontier Scouts and Burma Military Police that left only RIASC for any Indian officer looking for extra allowance. The first Indian officer posted to Frontier Scouts was Lieutenant (later Lt. Colonel) Mohammad Yusuf Khan of 6/13 Frontier Force Rifles when he was posted to South Waziristan Scouts in 1937. Some officers who needed extra money transferred to RIASC (Lieutenant General B. M. Kaul as a junior officer had some financial troubles and decided to leave 5/6 Rajputana Rifles for RIASC). Akbar was from the landed aristocracy and financial difficulty was not the likely motive for him. One likely explanation is service consideration. For first generation of Indian officers, the dream was to end the career with command of a battalion at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Akbar was one of the first Indian officers to join a cavalry regiment. Cavalry was a British preserve and he may have concluded that it was not likely that he would ever command a cavalry regiment.
Photograph: Courtesy of Major General ® Syed Ali Hamid from the album of his father Major General ® Shahid Hamid.
Akbar Khan was among the early generation of Indian lads given commission as officers when officer rank of Indian army was opened to Indians in the aftermath of First World War. He was from a family that prospered under the benevolence of Raj. His father received large tracts of agricultural lands for service and in return family sent its sons to serve in Indian army.
Acknowledgements:Author thanks Major General ® Syed Hamid Ali for providing many details as well as confirmation of many facts from family members of Akbar Khan, Muhammad Afzal; nephew of Akbar khan, Colonel Zahid Mumtaz for the details of careers of sons of Fazal Dad and Ghee Bowman; a PhD candidate working on his thesis on RIASC contingent in France and England for providing details of service comments in annual confidential reports of Akbar Khan. All errors and omissions are author’s sole responsibility.
1- Chris Kempton. Pack Mules from India, Force K-7 and Force-6. Durbar, Volume 29, No.1, Spring 2012.
2- Lieutenant Colonel Gautam Sharma. Nationalization of the Indian Army – 1885-1947. (New Delhi: Allied Publishers), 1996
3- Major General Shaukat Raza. The Pakistan Army 1947-1949 (Lahore: Wajidalis, 1989)
4- Major General Shahid Hamid. Disastrous Twilight (London: Leo Cooper), 1986
5- Linda Hopkins. False Self: The Life of Masud Khan, (New York: The Other Press), 2008
6- Ashok Nath. Izzat: Historical Records and Iconography of Indian Cavalry Regiments 1730-1947 (New Delhi: Center for Armed Forces Historical Research), 2009
In the first decade after independence in 1947, several officers of Pakistan army were given rapid promotions. Officers with same names resulted in some confusion. Two Akbars and two Latifs were frequently confused. Two additional officers named Akbar served in different times. One was Khan Muhammad Akbar Khan, commissioned in different times in 1905 from Imperial Cadet Corps (ICC). He was attached to Malwa Bhil Corps. These were limited commissions only for Native Indian Land Forces (NILF). These officers could not command British soldiers and either served with state forces or attached as orderly officers to senior officers. He faded away and nothing much is known about him. Another officer named Akbar Khan was from Punjab regiment. He commanded 105th Independent Brigade in 1965 war. He was Director General (DG) of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) from 1966-71. In 1971 war, he commanded 12 Division. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant General and served as Karachi Corps Commander. He was superseded in 1976, when General Muhammad Zia ul Haq was appointed Chief of Army Staff (COAS).
Akbar the senior – PA-1 Muhammad Akbar Khan. His career dealt in detail in previous piece.
Akbar the junior– Akbar Khan (1912-1994) was a Pathan from Charsadda area of Khyber-Pukhtunkwa. He was from the pareech khel clan of Muhammadzai tribe that inhabits the village of Utmanzai. Akbar was from the last batch of Indian officers commissioned from Royal Military College Sandhurst in February 1934. Lieutenant General B.M. Kaul was his course mate at Sandhurst and they became friends during their service. Officers commissioned from Sandhurst were called King Commissioned Indian Officers (KCIOs). Akbar joined 6/13 Frontier Force Rifles (FFRif.). This battalion is now One Frontier Force (FF) Regiment of Pakistan army. He fought Second World War with 14/13 FFRif. (now15FF). This was a new war time battalion raised in April 1941, at Jhansi. In new war time raised battalions, officers and men were posted from different battalions, usually from the same group. Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Felix-Williams, DSO, MC of 1/13 FFRis. was the first Commanding Officer (CO). There were fourteen officers in the battalion and Akbar at the rank of Major was the senior most of the four Indian officers of the battalion. Lieutenants H. H. Khan, Fazl-e-Wahid Khan and A.K. Akram were other Indian officers (Wahid won MC). Battalion was part of 100th Brigade (other battalions of the brigade included 2 Borders and 4/10 Gurkha Rifles) of 20th Division commanded by Major General Douglas Gracey.
14/13 FFRif. was one of the few battalions well trained in jungle warfare and performed admirably. Battalion received three DSOs and 14 MCs. This included two MCs to Viceroy Commissioned Officers (VCOs); Subedar Bhagat Singh and Subedar Habib Khan. Battalion was patrolling about 1000 square mile area and many detachments were not in contact with battalion HQs. Akbar was commanding two companies (B & C) during Irrawaddy crossing and was quite independent in his command due to poor communications with battalion HQs. Battalion’s defenses fought against the onslaught of Japanese and suffered forty six killed and more than 100 wounded. Akbar withdrew his two companies into the lines of 9/14 Punjab Regiment. Akbar fought very well and won his Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in June 1945.
At the time of partition in 1947, Akbar was the only serving Pakistani officer with DSO. The most decorated Muslim officer inherited by Pakistan was now retired Captain Taj Muhammad Khanzada. He was from 5/11 Sikh and had won MC, DSO and bar. The most unusual aspect was that he had won DSO at the rank of Captain. DSO was usually awarded to Major and upward rank. 5/11 Sikh was captured by Japanese and many including Khanzada joined Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National army (INA) and was removed from the service. Khanzada’s battalion mate was Harbakhsh Singh who stayed away from INA. In 1965 war, Harbakhsh was Lieutenant General commanding western command of Indian army.
In September 1947, Colonel Akbar was appointed first deputy director of Weapons & Equipment (W&E) directorate. He got involved with Kashmir operations when he was appointed military advisor to Prime Minister. He used code name Tariq during Kashmir operations. He was given the command of 101 Brigade based in Kohat. He moved his brigade from Kohat to Uri sector in Kashmir. In addition to his own brigade, Akbar was also coordinating activities of the tribesmen operating in Kashmir. He commanded 101 Brigade from April 1948 to January 1950. After Kashmir operations, 101 Brigade was moved to Sialkot. In 1950, he attended Joint Services Staff College course in London. He came under suspicion of British authorities when he met some communists in London. This information was passed on to Pakistani C-in-C General Gracey who already knew about Akbar and some other officers and called them ‘Young Turk Party’. In December 1950, he was promoted Major General and appointed CGS.
Several officers involved in Kashmir operations were upset at the ceasefire and this resentment evolved into talk about overthrowing the government. Akbar took advantage of these sentiments and became the leader of the conspiracy. In March 1951, he was arrested along with several other officers. A special tribunal convicted and sentenced him to five years in prison. He was released in 1955. He joined Pakistan Peoples Party and served as Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s national security advisor. Akbar was married to Nasim Akbar. Nasim was a social, educated lady from a very affluent family of Lahore. She had leftist ideas and it was alleged that Akbar was under the influence of his wife. Nasim was an ambitious woman and allegedly aspired to become the first lady. Nasim was present in some of the meetings of the conspirators but she was not charged with any offence. In fact, many officers were upset when Akbar brought some civilians including his wife into the loop. The couple divorced in 1959.
Akbar has been a controversial figure in Pakistan army history. Some leftists believe that if Akbar had succeeded in 1951, Pakistan army would have been pushed into the ‘left lane’. Seven years later, Ayub Khan’s coup decisively put army and the country in the ‘right lane’. Akbar was well respected by his juniors for his professionalism, gallant performance in war and ease of interaction with juniors. On the other hand, he had a mercurial temper and at times behaved in a bizarre way. Several incidents are narrated as evidence of this bizarre behavior but two examples will suffice. When he was major general, he used to keep a rope at his office table declaring to visitors that some people need to be hanged with this rope. In February 1972, when he was national security advisor of Prime Minister Bhutto, there was strike by policemen in Peshawar. Akbar phoned commandant of school of artillery at nearby Nowshera asking him to send two 25 pounder artillery guns to sort out policemen. The order was cancelled by army headquarters. There was some violent streak in his personality and different interpretations have been offered. One suggests that in view of family trait of violence, he may have inherited some physical or psychological illness that made him prone to bizarre behavior. Another theory points towards his clan. Pathans are generally viewed as having short tempers and even among Pathans, pareech khels are known for even shorter fuses. The ironies of the times can be judged from the fact that before independence, Akbar portrayed himself as an ardent nationalist and had no love lost for the British. However, after independence, when he was given his dismissal order by Major General Mian Hayauddin (4/12 FFR), he wrote on the paper that he was a King’s commissioned officer and could not be dismissed even by Governor General. Long after independence, Akbar was now claiming to be the subject of the King rather than citizen of Pakistan.
Latif I – Muhammad Abdul Latif Khan was a graduate of Prince of Wales Royal Military College (PWRMC) at Dehra Dun. He was from the last batch of Indians commissioned from Sandhurst in 1934. He was commissioned in 1/7 Rajput Regiment with army number of IA-262. In November 1945, he was awarded MBE and later, he was also awarded Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE). In 1947, Joint Defence Council (JDC) was formed to arrange for division of armed forces between India and Pakistan. An army subcommittee headed by Deputy Chief of General Staff (DCGS) Major General SE Irwin was formed. Latif, then Lieutenant Colonel was appointed secretary of this subcommittee. He opted for Pakistan and was appointed the first director of Military Intelligence in July 1948. He was promoted Brigadier and given the command of 103 Brigade (July 1948 to December 1949). He was promoted Major General and served as commandant of Staff College at Quetta from August 1954 to July 1957. In October 1958, when Lieutenant General Muhammad Musa was appointed C-in-C, Latif and Major General Sher Ali Khan Pataudi (7 Cavalry & 1/1 Punjab) were superseded and retired.
Latif II – Muhammad Abdul Latif Khan (1916-1995) was from the princely state of Bhopal. He attended Indian Military Academy (IMA) Dehra Dun and commissioned in 1936 (IC-105). He joined 5/10 Baluch Regiment (now 12 Baloch). In Second World War, he won MC for gallantry in April 1945. He was the first cadet battalion commander of Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) at Kakul. His brother in law Major S. Bilgrami (two sisters were married to Latif & Bilgrami) was appointed company commander at Kakul at the same time. He commanded 5/10 Baluch from November 1948 to February 1949. He was commanding 5/12 Frontier Force Regiment (FFR) in 1949. This battalion is now 2FF. This battalion was part of 101 Brigade based in Kohat and commanded by Akbar. In February 1950, he was posted GSO-I of 9th Division based in Peshawar, commanded by Major General Nazir Ahmad. In December 1950, he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier and given the command of 52 Brigade based in Quetta. He was arrested in March 1951 along with several other officers for conspiracy to overthrow the civilian government.
Latif’s role in 1951 conspiracy is interesting. In 1948-49, he was in agreement with Akbar about removing the civilian government. He was present in many important meetings of the conspirators. In the final plan conceived in late 1949, he was to play an important role and also to serve as member of military council after the coup. They planned to arrest Governor General in Lahore and Prime Minister in Peshawar during their visits to these two cities. Latif was then commanding 5/12 FFR in Kohat and he was assigned the task to bring two companies of his own battalion along with a squadron of Guides Cavalry to Peshawar to arrest the Prime Minister. He was present at the crucial meeting at Attock rest house on December 04, 1949. Later, he withdrew from the plan. In February 1951, Akbar wrote him a letter to clear misunderstanding between the two. The same month, Akbar came to Karachi to finalize the coup plan and asked Latif to meet him in Karachi. According to Latif, he tried to get out of the situation but when Akbar asked if he was disobeying orders, he relented. Government had some inkling about the activities of many officers involved in the conspiracy and tried to disperse some of the officers. Major General Nazir Ahmad was sent on a course to London. Akbar was asked to tour East Pakistan starting in early March and Latif’s name was added to the military mission planning to visit Iran. When Latif came to Karachi for his onward journey to Iran, he was arrested by military police. He was dismissed from the service and sentenced to prison. He was released in 1955. He led a quite life for the next several decades and died in 1995.
1- Lt. Colonel ® Gautam Sharma. Nationalization of the Indian Army (New Delhi: Allied Publishers Limited, 1996)
2- Chris Kempton. Pack Mules from India, Force K-7 and Force K-6. Durbar,Volume 29, No. 1, Spring 2012, pp. 14-25
3- Daniel P. Marston. Phoenix from the Ashes: The Indian Army in the Burma Campaign (Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 2003)
4- Major General ® Akbar Khan. Raiders in Kashmir (Lahore: Jang Publishers, 1992)
5- Zaheeruddin. Rawalpindi Conspiracy 1951 (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1995)
6- Major General (R) Shahid Hamid. Disastrous Twilight (London: Leo Cooper, 1986)
7- Major General ® Shaukat Raza. The Pakistan army 1947-1949 (Lahore: Wajidalis, 1989)
8- Memoirs of Lt. General Gul Hassan Khan (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1993)
This ten minutes clip of Second World War captures an important chapter of Indian army. War stories are usually focused on combat soldiers and support services though vital usually don’t get much attention. However, we all know that if supply corps does not send food in time, a hungry soldier cannot survive even a day or without the help of an orderly of medical corps a minor bleeding wound can end the life of a soldier.
This clip provides a window to the role of Royal Indian Army Service Corps (RIASC) contingent in Western theatre in Second World War. Film caught the day to day functioning of animal transport and also tradition of presentation of ‘nazar’ to King. There are three interesting people in the clip. Major Akbar Khan, Risaldar Major Muhammad Ashraf Khan and narrator Z. A. Bukhari. Z.A. Bukhari was from my hometown of Peshawar and his as well as his brother Ahmad Shah Bukhari’s role in early history of Indian broadcasting requires a separate detailed piece.
RIASC contingent was K-6 Force. This force was sent to France in November 1939 where it stayed until evacuation in June 1940. It left its animals behind in France during evacuation. It stayed in England from 1940-44 where it worked with horses and mules brought from France and United States. Force came back to India and later went to Burma theatre. It consisted of Force Head Quarters (HQ) and four Animal Transport (AT) companies. Force Commander was Major (Temp Lt. Colonel) R.W.W. Hills and senior Indian Viceroy Commissioned Officer (VCO) was Risaldar Major Muhammad Ashraf Khan, IOM, IDSM. Force was all Muslims mainly Punjabi Muslims of Potohar area with few Pathans and Hazarawal. The discipline and efficiency of the force was exemplary in all phases and all observers praised Indian soldiers. In embarkation and disembarkation everything went smoothly without any loss of animals. In the chaotic retreat from Dunkirk, the discipline was exemplary. In England, the behavior of soldiers was excellent and locals who came in contact with them remembered them even after fifty years.
Major Mohammad Akbar Khan was 2IC of No: 25 Animal Transport Company (ATC). In 1947, he was senior most Muslim officer of Indian army and given Pakistan Army number 1 (a detailed profile of Akbar and his family is almost complete). Risaldar Major Muhammad Ashraf Khan served a long career with RIASC. He had received IDSM on North West Frontier in 1935 operations. In France, he earned IOM for his cool and calm attitude during extrication. He received his IOM from the King at Buckingham Palace. In June 1944, he was appointed Ist Class Order of British India (OBI). He was a Hazarawal and belonged to the same area of Field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan. He was very well respected by soldiers and junior officers. When Ayub Khan was removed from the command of 1 Assam Regiment in 1945 in Burma and Lieutenant Colonel Steve Parsons took over, Ayub spent next few weeks in the forty pounder tent of RM Ashraf Khan as his guest before heading back to India.
(An excellent source of K-6 Force is a two part piece written by Chris Kemptom in Durbar, Vol. 28 & 29, Winter 2011 and Spring 2012.)
The picture below is a rare photograph of RIASC soldiers in England.
Photograph: Eid ul Azha prayer at Shah Jehan Mosque in Woking, London, 28 December 1941. In front rows are soldiers of RIASC and Risaldar Major Muhammad Ashraf Khan with beard in the center. Picture is from Woking Mission website.
There is interesting history of Woking mosque and it is linked with history of Muslim Diaspora in London. This mosque was established in 1913. In First World War, imam of the mosque Maulana Sadr-ud-Din was involved in the care of wounded and dead in England. Initially, British authorities approved for purchase of a burial plot in Netley near Royal Victoria Hospital where many wounded Indian soldiers were treated. Sadr-ud-Din advised them to change the burial site to near Woking mosque. He met Director General of War Office General Sir Alfred Keogh and Military Secretary to India Office General Sir Edmund Barrow. In November 1914, three Muslim soldiers were buried in a section of a Christian cemetery. Later, burial site was selected near Woking mosque.
From its inception, this mosque was run by Ahmadi Muslims. They were declared non-Muslim in 1974 in Pakistan and have been relentlessly persecuted forcing large numbers of them to migrate to other countries.
In view of increasing friction between civil and military leaders in Pakistan (again), may be a good time to reminisce about the anniversary of 1999 coup. This piece was written in 2012. I’m no wiser in 2016. Enjoy.
“We expect men to be wrong about the most important changes through which they live.” Harold Lasswel
Count Down – October 12, 1999
“After this operation, it’s going to be either a Court Martial or Martial Law!” Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Operations) Air Commodore Abid Rao after attending a briefing at X Corps Headquarters about Kargil operation, May 1999 (1)
On October 12, 1999, Pakistan army moved to remove Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government when he announced pre mature retirement of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Pervez Mussharraf. Different versions of events were later provided by active participants as well as bystanders. Later, many also gave a revisionist account of the events. This article will review the back ground of differences between Nawaz Sharif and Mussharraf that led to fateful decisions of these two key players and events of October 12.
In the fall of 1998, Nawaz Sharif could not be blamed for feeling very confident and on top of his game. Sharif’s government’s two third majority in the Parliament, repeal of eighth constitutional amendment taking away the power from the president to dissolve national assembly, removal of Chief Justice, resignation of president Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari, appointment of a Sharif family protégé, Rafique Ahmad Tarar as president and resignation of COAS General Jahangir Karamat had decisively shifted the balance in favor of the prime minister.
Two important events started the gulf between civilian and military leaders; resignation of COAS General Jahangir Karamat in October 1998 and Pakistan army’s operation across Line of Control (LOC) in Kargil in the spring of 1999. In October 1998, COAS General Jahangir Karamat resigned few months before completing his term due to differences with Sharif. There was deep resentment among the officer corps on this issue. Sharif picked Mussharraf as COAS superseding Chief of General Staff (CGS) Lieutenant General Ali Quli Khan and Quarter Master General (QMG) Lieutenant General Khalid Nawaz Malik. In some cases, new army chief makes slow changes of the top tier while in other cases, whole new team of close confidants is brought in quickly. Mussharraf embarked on major changes and brought the new team of his own confidants to key positions of command of Rawalpindi, Multan, Lahore and Karachi Corps and CGS, MS and DGMI posts (Lieutenant General Muzzaffar Usmani was brought from Bahawalpur Corps to important Karachi Corps while Lieutenant General Salim Haider was shifted from Rawalpindi Corps to Mangla Corps). There was no history of any problem between Mussharraf and Lieutenant General Khawaja Ziauddin. Ziauddin was from Engineers Corps and their paths have not crossed during their professional career. In fact, immediately after the announcement of his appointment, when Mussharraf settled down in Armor Mess (General Karamat was still in Amy House) and started shuffling the senior brass, Ziauddin then serving as Adjutant General (AG) was with him. Two days later, Sharif announced appointment of Lieutenant General Khawaja Ziauddin as Director General Inter Services Intelligence (DGISI) without consulting with Mussharraf.
In the spring of 1999, a small group of senior officers were involved in the decision of sending Pakistani troops across the LOC in Kargil area of Kashmir, starting a flare up that quickly got out of control of Pakistani decision makers. Initially, Pakistan refused to acknowledge the presence of its troops across the LOC but later after vigorous response from Indian armed forces and amid international condemnation was forced to withdraw. There was outcry in the country and civilian and military leadership got entangled in the blame game.
Sharif shifted the blame on the army brass and took the position that army had not fully briefed him about the extent of the operation. Army brass on its part, now wanted the civilian leaders to take the blame for the humiliating withdrawal of the troops. All was not well in the army and there was significant resentment among the officer corps. General Mussharraf toured various formations where he was confronted with harsh questions from junior officers. (2) Mussharraf shifted the blame on Sharif government by stating that civilian government was responsible for the decision of withdrawal and armed forces were bound to obey it.
Initially, differences between Sharif and Mussharraf were over minor issues. Sharif removed retired Lieutenant General Moinuddin Haider from the post of Governor of Sindh province. Haider was senior but had friendship with Mussharraf (later Mussharraf appointed him interior minister). Sharif asked Mussharraf to sack two Major Generals; Anis Ahmad Bajwa and Shujaat Ali Khan, accusing them of working against him. Bajwa was Vice Chief of General Staff (VCGS) and fully supported his Chief during Kargil crisis. Shujaat served as director of internal security wing of ISI. This section usually deals with the domestic political scene and gets entangled in the palace intrigues. Mussharraf refused to oblige Sharif on this issue. After the coup, Mussharraf appointed Bajwa his Chief of Staff (COS) and Shujaat was appointed ambassador to Morocco.
After Kargil crisis, gulf between Sharif and Mussharraf widened and both parties started to strengthen their positions. In mid-September at Corps Commander’s Conference, Mussharraf asked his senior officers the question of competency of Nawaz Sharif. While all Corps Commanders agreed that his performance was not good but expressed their view that they could not remove him without a reasonable cause. Mussharraf then brought the issue of what if Sharif tried to sack him? The military brass agreed that they would not allow that. (3) There was now consensus that army will not allow two army chiefs to be removed prematurely.
As the mistrust and suspicion between Sharif and Mussharraf escalated, both sides started to make their moves. Sharif only had the executive power to replace Mussharraf but he had to move silently and stealthily to achieve his aim. (4) He also thought that a warning from Washington to the military brass may also help to strengthen his hand. General Mussharraf’s power base was military and he started to consolidate his position. His biggest advantage was general resentment in armed forces after forced resignation of previous COAS. In addition, he successfully deflected the resentment and anger of junior officers about planning and execution of Kargil operation by suggesting that plan was good but it was the civilian leadership that had succumbed to pressure and ordered withdrawal.
Mussharraf was not sure about two Corps Commanders; Lieutenant General Tariq Pervez of Quetta based XII Corps and Lieutenant General Salim Haider of Mangla based I Corps. In late September 1999, he replaced Haider by promoting Director General Military Operations (DGMO) Major General Tauqir Zia to Lieutenant General rank and bringing him to command Mangla Corps. Haider was given the post of Master General of Ordnance (MGO); a staff position with no direct control of troops. Tariq Pervez’s cousin Nadir Pervez was member of Sharif cabinet and Mussharraf thought that Tariq was passing information about decisions at Corps Commanders meeting to Sharif through his cousin. It is alleged that Tariq Pervez had warned Sharif about the consensus of the senior army brass that if Mussharraf was sacked, the army will take over. Later, Mussharraf accused Tariq Pervez of ill-discipline and ‘plotting against me’. (5) Tariq Pervez had criticized the planning and execution of Kargil operation at Corps Commanders meeting and Mussharraf interpreted this as a sign of disloyalty. On one such occasion, Mussharraf snapped back to Tariq that ‘If you are saying that so that the prime minister knows, let me tell you that I will tell him your views myself’. (6) This statement provides a clue to the state of mind at that time. Tariq was retired but given few days at his request until October 13 to say farewell to his formations.
Director General (DG) Analysis of ISI, Major General Shahid Aziz; a relative of Mussharraf was brought in as DGMO. Mussharraf had already brought his close junior confidant Brigadier Salahuddin Satti to head 111 Brigade in Rawalpindi. Satti had served as Brigade Major when Mussharraf commanded a Brigade. It is also alleged that some of Ziauddin’s subordinates (Major General Ghulam Ahmad and Brigadier Ijaz Shah) at ISI stayed with the ultimate fountain of power; COAS. Mussharraf made all these crucial changes to secure his own position fearing that Sharif was planning to sack him while Sharif interpreted these changes as potential move against him. Distrust and suspicion between Mussharraf and Sharif was mutual and many on both sides were whispering in the ears of their masters. Mussharraf was suspicious that one senior officer of his inner circle was informing the other side about decisions of military’s top brass while Sharif feared that his conversations at prime minister house were bugged by the military. Some also believe that General Head Quarters (GHQ) had a mole in Sharif’s inner circle, informing army brass about discussions in Sharif camp.
Once securing his base in the army, Mussharraf warned Nawaz Sharif through intermediaries. In his memoir, Mussharraf admits that ‘I had already conveyed an indirect warning to the prime minister through several intermediaries: “I am not Jahangir Karamat”.’ (7) In September 1999, Mussharraf met with Nawaz Sharif’s brother Shahbaz Sharif and bluntly told him to convey two things to his brother. First that ‘I would not agree to give up my present position of chief of the army staff and be kicked upstairs as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee CJCSC’ and second recommendation of retirement of Quetta Corps Commander Lieutenant General Tariq Pervez. (8) By the first week of October, with the exception of DG ISI and a lame duck Quetta Corps Commander, all senior officers as well as some crucial mid level officers were Mussharraf’s trusted appointees. GHQ embarked on a contingency plan in case Sharif made his move. CGS Lieutenant General Muhammad Aziz contacted Commander of Special Services Group (SSG) Brigadier Amir Faisal Alvi and a company of SSG was moved to Army Aviation base at Dhamial near Rawalpindi with cover of training with aviation. CGS also held a meeting with DGMO and Commander of SSG at his office and at SSG Commander’s residence. The discussion was about security of the president and prime minister house in case of breakdown of law and order. (9) General Mussharraf held a meeting at his residence prior to his departure to Sri Lanka. Participant list included CGS Aziz, Rawalpindi Corps Commander Lieutenant General Mahmud Ahmad, DGMO Shahid Aziz, Director General Military Intelligence (DGMI) Ehsan ul Haq and Director General Inter Services Public Relations (DGISPR) Brigadier Rashid Qureshi. In this meeting, it was disclosed that Sharif wanted to sack army chief and was trying to politicize the army. It was decided in this meeting that if Sharif tried to remove army chief, then army will take over. (10)
Sharif became aware of some of these maneuvers when a brigadier (he was a retired SSG officer who was working on contract basis) serving in Counter Intelligence (CI) section of ISI informed Sharif camp that something was in the offing. In the end of September, Ziauddin left for a trip to United States and returned on October 08. On the same day, when Ziauddin met Sharif, this issue was raised. Ziauddin asked head of CI Major General Jamshed Gulzar Kayani to investigate the matter. When brigadier was confronted, he claimed that he had never passed such information. (11) Nawaz Sharif fearful of a pre-emptive strike from Mussharraf dispatched his brother Shahbaz to Washington on September 17. He pressed U.S. officials to issue a warning against the military coup. On September 20, US State Department issued a very strange warning stating that U.S. will not approve of any ‘unconstitutional moves’ against the government. (12) Ziauddin was also visiting Washington during this time. Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was also in United States and she probably had picked up enough back ground noise to announce that Sharif government will not last until December.
On October 10, Sharif took a flight to Adu Dhabi and Ziauddin accompanied him. Probably, Sharif finalized his decision of sacking Mussharraf during this flight. It is not clear how much information he shared with Ziauddin. Mussharraf was on a visit to Sri Lanka. I’m of the view that probably at this stage, there was no plan of not allowing the Mussharraf’s plane to land in Pakistan. Both thought that while Mussharraf was on his way back home from Sri Lanka, the army will accept the change of command. Ziauddin was confident that he would be able to convince his colleagues and by the time Mussharraf has touched down in Karachi, he would have to accept the change. Ziauddin underestimated the strength of Mussharraf loyalists and was probably not aware of the fact that the decision reached among the close circle of Mussharraf that they will not allow Mussharraf’s removal. In the evening of October 12, Ziauddin was appointed new army chief at prime minister’s residence. Ziauddin pointed to Sharif about the role of the president and Sharif rushed to the president house to get the signature of the president. Shrewd president Rafiq Ahmad Tarar only wrote ‘seen’ rather than approved on the file and signed it. The file was then handed over to Defence Secretary Lieutenant General ® Iftikhar Ali Khan to take to the ministry of defense and issue the official notification. Ziauddin was well aware that two lieutenant generals who were holding two key positions (X Corps Commander Mahmud Ahmad and CGS Muhammad Aziz Khan) were staunch Mussharraf loyalists and will not accept the change. In addition, by virtue of their posts, they were in a position to thwart the plan. They needed to be removed from their posts as soon as possible. He appointed QMG Lieutenant General Muhammad Akram as CGS while MGO Lieutenant General Salim Haider was given back the command of X Corps at Rawalpindi. Akram arrived at prime minister house but Salim was playing golf and by the time he arrived, tables have been turned and he was not allowed to enter the prime minister house. Ziauddin informed Military Secretary (MS) Major General Masood Pervez about these changes. He then contacted other Corps Commanders to get them on his side. Ziauddin claims that he personally spoke to Karachi Corps Commander Muzzaffar Usmani, Mangla Corps Commander Tauqir Zia, Multan Corps Commander Muhammad Yusuf and Gujranwala Corps Commander Agha Jahangir Khan. When he tried to contact Peshawar Corps commander Saeed ul Zafar, he was told that Zafar was sleeping. (13) Ziauddin also called two of his subordinates at ISI Major General Ghulam Ahmad and Jamshed Gulzar Kayani asking them to come to prime minister house but they didn’t show up. (14) It was not surprising that knowing the awkward and very difficult situation most Corps Commanders remained un-committed. They were contacted by Ziauddin as well as Aziz and Mahmud at about the same time. Most of them waited on the sideline to let the winner emerge from this tussle. Aziz and Mahmud also had personal stakes in the whole affair. If any heads were going to role for the responsibility of Kargil operation after the retirement of General Mussharraf, it would be the heads of these two officers as they were the architects of the Kargil operation.
At 5:00 pm, Pakistan Television broadcast the news of removal of Mussharraf and appointment of Ziauddin as new army chief. Corps Commander of Peshawar Lieutenant General Saeed ul Zafar called Aziz who was playing tennis with Mahmud and told them about the change. Mahmud and Aziz rushed to GHQ and set in motion their plan to stop the removal of Mussharraf. DGMO Shahid Aziz rushed back to his office and his office became the temporary headquarter of the counter coup. Mahmud, Aziz and Shahid started to contact Corps Commanders. Most of the Corps Commanders now clearly seeing the stronger party decided to go with the hawks.
Soldiers from the two battalions of 111 Brigade were responsible for guarding president and prime minister house. 4 Punjab Regiment commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Javed Sultan was guarding president house while 3 Azad Kashmir (AK) Regiment commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Shahid Ali was guarding prime minister house. Mahmud contacted Brigadier Satti and ordered him to secure president and prime minister house. Aziz and Mahmud were well aware that the first thing they had to do was to stop the television broadcast. First team of fifteen soldiers headed by Major Nisar of 4 Punjab was dispatched to television station to block the repeated broadcast of Mussharraf’s removal. Major Nisar told the television staff to stop broadcasting the news. Two SSG detachments at Dhamial and Mangla were also rushed to Islamabad.
Sharif got alarmed when 6 pm news bulletin did not broadcast the news of Mussharraf’s removal. He sent his Military Secretary Brigadier Javed Iqbal Malik (a gunner officer of 4 Field Artillery Regiment) with an armed escort of elite police to television station to check what was going on. Probably, Sharif realized at this time that Ziauddin may need some time and Mussharraf should be kept out of country. Sharif ordered the airport staff at Karachi that airport should be closed and Mussharraf’s plane should be diverted to another destination. Brigadier Iqbal had a heated conversation with Major Nisar at television station control room and finally, Iqbal drew his handgun on Nisar, forcing him to order his men to disarm. The army soldiers were locked in a room and near the end of the bulletin, the news of Mussharraf’s removal was re-broadcasted. Now Mussharraf’s team watching the news at GHQ figured out that something went wrong. They sent another larger army team to television station which quickly took control and pulled the plug on television broadcasts. (15)
The small guard units commanded by Majors had already secured the president and prime minister house while awaiting other army teams to arrive. Lieutenant Colonel Shahid Ali arrived with a larger contingent and confronted fellow officers in the porch of prime minister house. Ziauddin, Akram and Javed Iqbal were in uniform along with an escort of two SSG commandoes and six plain clothes ISI guards of Ziauddin. Each side tried to threaten and bluff its way out of this situation. Finally, when two SSG commandoes laid down their weapons, the tide turned against Ziauddin and he finally ordered his guards to disarm. (16) After securing prime minister house, Lieutenant General Mahmud accompanied by Vice Chief of General Staff (VCGS) Major General Ali Muhammad Jan Orakzai came to prime minister house to confront Sharif. (17) Later, when Sharif was confined in an army mess, Mahmud, Aziz and Orakzai asked Sharif to sign on the paper declaring dissolution of national assemblies but Sharif refused. (18)
General Mussharraf accompanied by his wife Sahba, military secretary Brigadier Nadim Taj and ADC Major Syed Tanvir Ali (he was from Mussharraf’s old 44 SP Regiment and serving his ADC since Mussharraf was a Major General) was on a commercial Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight 805 and plane was approaching Karachi. Lieutenant General Muzaffar Usmani, commanding V Corps in Karachi asked General Officer Commanding (GOC) of V Corps Reserve Major General Iftikhar Malik to activate Immediate Reaction Group and take control of the airport to ensure landing of Mussharraf’s plane. The situation at the control tower of Karachi airport was now chaotic and staff was being given confusing orders. The senior civil staff was telling them not to allow landing of Mussharraf’s plane while military officials giving contrary orders. Iftikhar came himself on the line and told the staff to allow the plane to land. Brigadier Abdul Jabbar Bhatti was sent to the airport and by the time plane was heading to Nawabshah, Brigadier Jabbar took control of the airport and told the control tower staff to call the plane back to Karachi. Iftikhar also asked Brigadier Tariq Fateh; a serving gunner officer seconded to Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as director at Karachi airport and in charge of airport security Brigadier Naveed Nasr to help the army contingent. Iftikhar also arrived at the control tower and spoke to Mussharraf but Mussharraf was not sure about the whole situation on the ground. Finally, Mussharraf’s plane safely landed at Karachi airport. (19)
In Lahore, Corps Commander Lieutenant General Khalid Maqbool was out of town. GOC of 10 Division Major General Tariq Majid was in charge and he sent troops to arrest Governor and secure Sharif’s home in Lahore and his large estate in Raiwand. Director of Punjab elite Police Training Center, Colonel ® Tariq Ehtasham (a former SSG officer) sent some elite police force to Raiwand estate but they were no match for the army.
Secretary Defence Iftikhar was on his way to Ministry of Defence when he received a call from Shahbaz asking him what army soldiers were doing at prime minister house. (20) His subordinate Additional Secretary of Defence Major General Shahzada Alam also informed him about the troop movement. Iftikhar knowing that the tide was turning decided to wait and didn’t issue any notification. Someone at the Military Operations (MO) Directorate from where the counter coup was being directed knew the importance of this technical detail and a Major from Military Intelligence was sent to bring Iftikhar to MO directorate. (21) In fact, later the legal argument used by Mussharraf was that as Secretary Defence had not issued the official notification, therefore his retirement order was not valid in strict legal sense and Supreme Court accepted this argument.
After the completion of the drama, winners got their rewards and losers paid for their sins. Mussharraf became President and ruled until 2008 when he was forced to resign. Key architect of the coup, Mahmud was appointed DGISI but later eased out after September 2011 seismic shifts while other key player Aziz served as Corps commander and later given fourth star and appointed CJCSC. DGMI Ehsan ul Haq was later promoted and served as Corps commander, DG ISI and finally CJCSC. Tariq Majid responsible for clearing the deck in Lahore was promoted and served as CGS, Corps Commander and finally CJCSC. SSG commander Amir Faisal Alvi was promoted to Major General rank but later sacked by Mussharraf. He was assassinated in Islamabad in November 2008. DGMO Shahid Aziz received third star and appointed CGS and Corps commander and after retirement served as head of National Accountability Bureau (NAB). 111 Brigade Commander Satti was promoted and served as CGS and Corps commander. Commanding Officer (CO) of the battalion securing president house Javed Sultan reached Major General rank. He died in a helicopter crash in February 2008. CO of the battalion securing prime minister house Shahid Ali retired at Brigadier rank. Brigadier Abdul Jabbar Bhatti responsible for securing Karachi airport was promoted Major General and served as COS of General Mussharraf and later Director of Regional Accountability Bureau in Punjab. Mussharraf’s military secretary Nadim Taj climbed up the promotion ladder and served as DGISI and Corps Commander. Tanvir Ali left the army in 2004 and committed suicide in June 2011. Ziauddin’s subordinate at ISI Major General Ghulam Ahmad was given third star and served as COS of Mussharraf. He died in a car accident in September 2001. Another subordinate of Ziauddin and head of Counter Intelligence wing of ISI, Major General Jamshed Gulzar Kayani was given third star and served as Corps Commander. After retirement, he was appointed Chairman of Powerful Federal Public Service Commission. He later developed some differences with Mussharraf and was removed from his post. Ziauddin and Javed Iqbal were arrested and punished through military procedures. Colonel ® Tariq Ehtesham was arrested and remained in NAB custody on corruption charges for two years but no charges were proven against him.
Events of October 12, 1999 were the unfortunate result of the clash between executive and his army chief. The two could not resolve their differences and their personal fears, suspicions and dislikes were aggravated by some of their close confidants. Kargil adventure was the final nail, pushing Sharif and Mussharraf into a dead end street. In the end, both acted according to their fears ignoring consequences of their actions for their own respective institutions as well as the country.
Acknowledgement: Author thanks many for their valuable input and corrections. Conclusions as well as all errors and omissions are author’s sole responsibility.
Notes: 1- Air Commodore Kaiser Tufail. Kargil and Pakistan Air Force, Defence Journal, May 2009 2- Author’s interview with a brigadier who was then serving with MI and involved in monitoring the mood in cantonments. 3- Owen-Bennett Jones. Pakistan: Eye of the Storm (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2002), p. 39 4- For details of Nawaz Sharif’s planning before sacking Mussharraf, see Jones. Pakistan, p. 40-48 5- Pervez Mussharraf. In The Line Of Fire: A Memoir (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006), p. 111-12 6- Shuja Nawaz. Crossed Swords: Pakistan; Its Army, and the Wars Within (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 525 7- Mussharraf. In The Line of Fire, p. 110 8- Mussharraf. In the Line of Fire, p. 111-12 9- Carey Schofield. Inside the Pakistan Army (New Delhi: Pentagon Press, 2011), p. 119 10- Interview of Lieutenant General ® Shahid Aziz in Urdu, 13 May 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6kpHJTh9hU 11- Interview of Lieutenant General ® Khawaja Ziauddin in Urdu, October 31, 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6c72JVCl60&feature=relmfu 12- Nawaz. Crossed Swords, p. 524 13- Lieutenant General ® Khawaja Ziauddin interview, in Urdu, October 31, 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s17v_LQqvZk 14- Interview of Saeed Mehdi; Principle Secretary of Nawaz Sharif who was present on the occasion, in Urdu, November 07, 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCvCJvzfiBs&feature=related 15- Mussharraf. In the Line of Fire, 124-125 16- Mussharraf. In the Line of Fire, 129-130 17- For details of events in Rawalpindi, Nawaz. Crossed Swords, p526-527, Mussharraf. In the Line of Fire, p. 120-123 and Jones. Pakistan, p. 44-45 18- Interview of Saeed Mehdi; Principle Secretary of Nawaz Sharif who was present on the occasion, in Urdu, November 07, 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCvCJvzfiBs&feature=related 19- Mussharraf. In the Line of Fire, p.126 20- Mussharraf. In the Line of Fire, p. 119 & 127 21- Mussharraf. In the Line of Fire, p.127 Hamid Hussain October 02, 2012 [email protected]