October 1999 News

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Kargil was a key reason for Sharif ouster: Jamaat

13 October 1999
The Asian Age

KARACHI: Pakistan's hard line Jamaat-i-Islami party on Wednesday said the writing was on the wall for Mr. Nawaz Sharif's government after his mishandling of several issues, including the Kashmir dispute with India.

"He was incapable, undemocratic and dictatorial and corrupt ruler. The charge sheet included mishandling the economy and mishandling the Kashmir issue," Jamaat secretary-general Sayed Munawwar Hassan told AFP.

Mr. Hassan termed as a setback Mr. Sharif' government with US President Bill Clinton in July that led to retreat of Pakistan-backed infiltrators from strategic Kargil peaks on the Indian side of the Line of Control.

"It was a setback for Pakistan, Kashmiris and the Army of Pakistan. It was a betrayal of the Kashmir cause," he said.

The Pakistani and Indian armies were engaged in 10-week conflict after Indian troops launched an offensive to flush out Pakistan-backed infiltrators who had occupied key peaks on the Indian side of the LoC. Mr. Sharif said he had averted an open war between the two newly nuclear-armed states. Mr. Hassan avoided comment on the Army takeover but said his party would not support imposition of martial law. He said the party demanded an interim set-up with the accountability of former and present rulers a priority.

The Jamaat said it would support any talks with India once Indian troops were withdrawn from Kashmir. India should declare that Kashmir is a disputed territory, Mr. Hassan said. Jamaat-i-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed on Wednesday said that now that Mr. Sharif has been overthrown the military must allow early polls. "We want accountability, basic Islamic measures and a transparent election package - in the minimum time - and an honest, clean civilian government of people who are above suspicion," Qazi Hussain said. He was speaking by telephone from Lahore, where he presided over a meeting of his central council to discuss Mr. Sharif's dismissal. He said the council had issued a resolution demanding early and transparent elections. The resolution calls for setting up a caretaker government that should ensure across-the-board accountability of politicians and hold election to select an "honest government." There is uncertainty as to what type of government will emerge from the coup and whether the military will retain direct control. He said the public was waiting for the military to explain its plans as there has been no announcement from the Army since Gen. Musharraf's address on the state television early on Wednesday morning.

"Nobody knows whether the Parliament is there or not, Assemblies are there or not, the presidency continues or not, and if the Constitution is in force or not. The country is quiet peaceful and calm, people are satisfied with his going but there are limits. The concern is there about the future, and people are waiting, (which) can turn into restlessness," Qazi Hussain said.

He said previous periods of military rule were "not a very successful period for Pakistan" and called on the military to maintain and respect the Constitutions.


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