January 2002 News

Pervez had contingency coup plan

24 January 2002
Asian Age

New Delhi: Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who was sacked as Army chief by then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, had quietly prepared a contingency plan for a coup shortly after Islamabad’s decision to pull out troops from Kargil in July 1999, the Newsweek magazine said in its latest issue quoting a retired Pakistani general. Though Mr Sharif, who was said to be fully aware of the Pakistani intrusions, blamed the military for acting unilaterally, he had assured Gen. Musharraf that he would keep him on. But just in case, the Pakistani Prime Minister reneged, Gen. Musharraf prepared his contingency plan for a coup which he successfully executed in October, 1999. The magazine quoted a fellow general and Gen. Musharraf’s friend as saying that Gen. Musharraf’s decision to intrude into Kargil was “tactically brilliant” but strategically “poorly thoughtout.” Mr Sharif was in the know of the decision to “invade”, it said. With his seniority, Gen. Musharraf was one of the three contenders for the coveted slot of Chief of Army staff, the other two having powerful politically backing. However, Me Sharif chose Gen. Musharraf as a compromise. Two correspondents of the magazine, who spent three days with him in Islamabad, got an insight into how Gen. Musharraf, flying back to Pakistan from Sri Lanka, learnt of his dismissal, made his aircraft land in Karachi despite directions from Me Sharif not to permit it and went on to oust Mr Sharif. Gen. Musharraf’s wife, Begum Sehba, who was then travelling with him recalled that she was “screaming silently” as the situation was explained and she was told to remain calm. Acting swiftly, Gen. Musharraf contacted generals loyal to him through the cockpit radio. With only seven minutes of fuel left, President Musharraf ordered the PIA pilot to land at Karachi which had by then already been taken over by soldiers fully behind him. The sacked Army chief quickly took over the reins, sent Mr Sharif to jail and promised a new reformed Pakistan to the people. On snapping links with Taliban in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks and joining the international coalition, Gen. Musharraf said “I took a fast decision. But I did think about it very carefully....I keep to Napoleon’s view that two-thirds of the decision-making progress is based on analysis and information, and one third is always a leap in the dark.” About the recent peace mission by the US secretary of state Colin Powell to ease Indo-Pak tensions, he said: “I don’t think there can be war — unless there’s some mad action” and added “that is always a possibility.” Gen. Musharraf is the second of the three sons of a well-to-do middle-class family which fled to Pakistan during partition in 1947 and is the first Pakistani President who is a mohajir — Muslim refugee from India.


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