Pakistan Under Musharraf:
How the coup occurred, and where Pakistan is going in the fight to rebuild its viability

Some key United States Government officials began taking steps, in January 2000, to have Pakistan declared a “terrorist state”; that is, a state which sponsors international terrorism. But regardless of how compelling some of the evidence may at first appear, the reality is that “the facts” are misleading, and do not reflect some fundamental changes which are now occurring in and around Pakistan. The changes not only affect the future viability of Pakistan; they also affect the stability of India and geopolitical structures which affect the entire global balance.

The moves by the US to declare Pakistan a “terrorist state” would be counter-productive to the international campaign against terrorism, would worsen the security relationships in South Asia generally, and would be damaging to overall regional and global security. The move to designate Pakistan a “terrorist state” would actually inhibit very strenuous efforts by the new Government of Pakistan to combat terrorism and its underlying causes. Moreover, the move distorts the reality that the problem of radicalism and terrorism in Pakistan is primarily a function of private groups and a remnant of the US-sponsored “Islamic jihad” of the 1980s against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

Popular media perceptions of Pakistan being embroiled in great political and social instability and economic collapse, or of Pakistan being in the grip of irreversible fundamentalist trends, are incorrect. The prospect now exists for the correction — in the relatively short-term — of the trends toward instability, economic collapse and radicalism, all of which had their origins in the short-term expediency and corruption of the Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif elected governments of the past eight years. At the same time, there is a clear trend toward potential improvement in India-Pakistan relations, or at least a significant diminution of the threat of major military escalation between the two states, provided India does not deliberately attempt to exacerbate the situation.

It is significant that the Administration of Gen. Pervez Musharraf, which came to power in the coup of October 12, 1999, has moved rapidly — although largely behind the scenes — to begin making major structural changes in Pakistani government and bureaucracy. Indeed, an important aspect in the current situation in Pakistan is that overt, direct confrontation of the bodies which reflect the major domestic threats would lead to a schism in the country; hence the very deliberate discretion of the Musharraf Administration. Changes will largely appear to be consensual, and the carrot will be more in evidence than the stick. The objective is to address core, underlying problems and issues rather than short-term cosmetic solutions.

There is a very strong recognition within the Musharraf leadership group that this is probably the last time the Pakistan Armed Forces can intervene in the political process to correct the destruction caused by the “democratic” governments. As a result, there is a commitment to making the kind of mould-breaking decisions which will re- shape the country’s economic and bureaucratic structure, and even its orientation. There is, equally, a recognition within the leadership of the need to dispense with former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s obsessive use of the Kashmir issue to achieve short-term popularity, while at the same time recognizing that the Kashmir issue will “not go away”. As a result, Kashmir will remain a key — but not central — aspect of Pakistani policy, with the understanding that a military solution is absolutely not under consideration. Indeed, there is a continuing degree of surprise in Pakistani military circles over the fact that groups and individuals within the Indian-controlled sector of Jammu & Kashmir (ie: those without formal connection to the Pakistani jihadis) have continued their insurrection for so long following the Kargil confrontation of mid-1999.

The Military Government which came into office in Pakistan with the coup of October 12, 1999, is likely to remain in office for between two and four more years at least, but probably not less than three years. There are, however, indications that a transfer to an elected Parliament could be achieved earlier, dependent on the degree and nature of pressure applied by domestic groups and international powers. This process, however, is likely to be one in which positive incentives are more inclined toward success than negative ones. As well, it would be necessary for the Military Government to see that a viable basis for stable, long-term democracy existed before it would relinquish power; it would resist a restoration of the status quo ante. The coup d’etat of October 12, 1999, while basically unplanned, was an almost inevitable eventuality as soon as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif decided in October 1998 to replace the then Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Gen. Jehangir Karamat, with Lt.-Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Although both were regarded as “soldier’s soldiers” — consummate military officers — it was believed unlikely that Gen. Jehangir Karamat would have reacted so sharply to the erratic nature of the Nawaz Sharif Government. As soon as Gen. Musharraf was given the post of COAS, his close acquaintances noted that it would only be a matter of time before Gen. Musharraf “sorted out”, or became intolerant of, the Nawaz Administration’s lack of planning and its failure to stay focussed. There is uneasiness in some sectors of the Pakistani leadership and intellectual and elected political circles that former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is currently being tried before an Anti-Terrorist Court. Critics of this process say that there is ample evidence to try Nawaz Sharif for other, “non-terrorist” crimes, such as his consistent theft and diversion of State funds. Even many elected National Assembly members of his own party, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), want to see him tried, convicted and sentenced to a long prison term for his crimes, and want other politicians who profited illegally from their influence in government to be similarly treated. This, they contend, would be a more salutary lesson to future politicians and would pave the way for a more rapid restoration of democratic government. As a result, the PML has split into a faction which wants Nawaz Sharif removed as quickly as possible as party leader, and that faction of PML members who say that they will support him unconditionally because the Army was unlawful in deposing him.

There seems, in Pakistan today, to be a general air of optimism, despite some ominous economic and social indicators. Although there have been numerous terrorist bomb explosions in various parts of Pakistan — many publicly attributed to India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) — what is significant is that there seems to be a general view that at least some of this terrorist action is home-grown. There is also some optimism generated by the fact that the major political leaders and their colleagues, who were perceived to be robbing the exchequer, have been curbed. There is no widespread call for the return to the status quo ante, even by those who want the Military out of government quickly.

In the broad base of towns and cities, it is “business as usual”, and even the increasing depredations and constraints on society caused by the increasingly militant Islamists are ignored or “absorbed” as people go about their lives. Indeed, this may be one of the danger-points: the failure of society at large to accurately perceive how far they are lagging, economically, because of the gradual erosion of productivity and security caused by the whole combination of the Islamist/madarasa/jihadi syndrome.

Significantly, there has been a dramatic improvement in the law and order situation since the arrival on October 12, 1999, of the Military Government. There have been no sectarian or racial killings and general crime is definitely reduced. This has had a major impact on the society’s perceptions of the new Government. The average family is coping fairly well with economic conditions, with a degree of optimism about the future. It is significant that with the decline of their political backers — whether Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and their respective families, or politicians — the power of the kabzas, the politically-connected businessmen who take control of properties without paying for them, is declining dramatically. This has not gone unnoticed by the man in the street.

As well, the influence of drug cartels is consistently on the wane, and has been for the past few years thanks to the development of a Narcotics Control Board (NCB) which has won praise from the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) for its suppression of the narcotics trade.

Tackling corruption and favoritism within the police is a more difficult and long-term problem, although work has begun to improve the situation. Interior Minister Lt.-Gen. (rtd.) Moinuddin Haider has within the past three months initiated steps to start a program to improve educational and pay levels within the various police forces. The establishment of the Karachi Metropolitan Police will be a major focus for the kind of reforms Gen. Haider has in mind. As well, the district and regional civil committees coming into office in the coming months will be tasked to specifically monitor police and police corruption issues.

Clearly, religious pressure groups continue their influence on society. There is a widespread informal network which pressures the poorer elements of society to either donate their sons or their money to support “the jihad”. There has been a considerable amount of peer-pressure on poorer families in this regard, which the new Government proposes to handle by improving educational reach by modifying the madarasas and improving rural economies.

When the Military Government took office, it appointed 13 civilian committees, comprised of “eminent citizens” (not politicians) to review a variety of issues, such as land reform, local government, etc.

It is significant that apart from the 13 civilian advisory bodies, there are military committees to advise the Chief Executive (CE), Gen. Musharraf. There is at least one for each ministry, and each committee is comprised of senior officers (usually at major-general or brigadier level), and each has been tasked with developing concepts for the improvement in efficiency or purpose of its designated ministry. As well, there is a variety of Army monitoring groups at district, regional and provincial levels. These are comprised of Army personnel, Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) personnel and, as a final monitoring group, members of ISI’s (Inter-Services Intelligence) Field Service Units. These monitoring groups are intended to undertake random inspections of a variety of civilian services, including police and other local government functions, noting failures and recommending corrective actions, and with the ability to refer any persistent aberrations higher up the line. This monitoring system will ultimately work with various appointed district bodies, whose task it will be to determine local budgetary priorities and determine how best Federal funds can be deployed at the local level. Federally-provided district and local development funds would be made available for deployment at the discretion of these groups, which are comprised of people appointed for their honesty and ability, not for their social status.

The most significant policymaking body, however, determining strategic direction in Pakistan and therefore the overall life of the Military Government, is the Corps Commanders’ Committee, which traditionally has met monthly, with each of the nine Corps Commanders, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and the Chief of General Staff (CGS). Other Principal Staff Officers (PSOs) at GHQ — such as the Adjutant-General (AG), Quartermaster-General (QMG) and Master-General of the Ordnance (MGO) — attend at the request of the Corps Commanders. Significantly, each member of the Cabinet appointed by the Chief Executive had to be unanimously approved by the Corps Commanders’ Committee. This meant that at least one of the close confidantes of the Chief Executive, who had widely been anticipated to win a cabinet seat, was rejected and had to be named as a “special advisor” to the CE, with “Cabinet Rank”.

What this emphasizes is that the CE is “first among equals”, and he is scrupulous in working within the traditional consensus pattern of Army committees. Equally, Corps Commanders are not afraid to vote their conscience in the secrecy of their meetings. It seems clear from the orthodoxy of their approach, which traditionally avoids emphasis on ethnic, linguistic, sectarian or other background (other than Army branch), that the Corps Commanders would only act against the COAS/CE if he demonstrably fails in his mission or becomes a liability for this, or other, reasons to the institution of the Army. [Army branch origins are important in determining what postings are open to an officer: it is generally regarded, for example, that only a “fighting branch” officer — ie: infantry, cavalry/armor, or artillery — is eligible to become COAS, a key factor in the almost unanimous rejection of Engineer Lt.-Gen. Ziauddin as COAS, as he was nominated by then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.]

A meeting within the first three months of taking office between Gen. Musharraf and Ajmal Khattak of the Awami National Party (ANP) in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) was a very deliberate and pointed message to the political community. ANP was chosen because it was not a “tainted” national party, and, unlike the national-level Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League (PML), has a clear leadership in place. The PPP and PML each have serious leadership vacuums and disputes at present, and so there is no-one for Musharraf to talk with there. The ANP contact showed that he was prepared to talk to political parties, but also showed that he would speak with parties with clear, untainted leaders. The ANP meeting, then, showed that the political dialogue has begun.

Opening dialog with the various elements of Pakistani society is critical to stability as the Musharraf Government attempts to ease a large section of the country out of the poverty sector and therefore away from the cycle of joblessness and lack of formal education which make this part of society susceptible to radicalism. Islamist elements, however, are likely to react sharply and violently to any attempt by the Federal or provincial governments to curb or close down the madarasas. There are now, according to Pakistani estimates, some 500,000 children in madarasas, and it is generally accepted that many — but by no means all — of the products of these “schools” are both ideologically inclined against the State and are, equally, unfit and uneducated for service in either the Government or private sectors.

A consensus is developing within the Military Government as to how to deal with the problem of madarasas. There is general agreement that they are largely counter-productive and potentially dangerous. But it should be pointed out that poor families often send their children to a madarasa because this is the only education which can be afforded; at least the children are taught to read and write. There are 464 madarasas in the Punjab alone, but only a small number of these are actively teaching anti-State and terrorist agendas. Significantly, the Nawaz Sharif Government had undertaken an extensive and detailed survey of madarasas, identifying locations, strengths and curricula, so there is a strong body of intelligence as to where the major problems exist.

The Musharraf Government is now moving quickly, but very quietly, to address the problems of the madarasas, but is doing so obliquely and with a minimum of overt controversy. There seems little doubt that the various Islamist movements could easily turn their violence inward, against the Pakistani State and civil society, if they perceived that their thrust was being blunted. Significantly, former ISI Director-General (DG), Lt.-Gen. (rtd.) Hameed Gul, the seniormost official to have become an avowed Islamist, has declared that “the total collapse of the [Pakistani] State is what we desire”, because only by the collapse of the State can a truly “Islamic state” be implemented.

This means that the threat to the State from the madarasa/Islamist system is profound and imminent, particularly as pressure increases from the United States on Gen. Musharraf to “deal with” the Islamists and terrorists. If the Military Government moves too quickly, or too overtly, against the terrorists in an all-embracing confrontation, the reaction would be sharp and violent.

The result is that Gen. Musharraf is trying to address the root causes of the influence and power of the fundamentalist armed groups. This means starting at the base: transforming the madarasas. It is recognized that any attempts to curb the madarasas would automatically begin the process of reducing the flow of manpower and support flowing to the Taliban and the Kashmir jihad movements.

The process of tackling the madarasas will start by the State insisting on, and financing, the teaching of subjects which would equip the children with marketplace skills. In other words, rather than insisting on the cessation of the religious teachings, it would insist that the core curriculum would include useful skills and conventional subjects, with the religious teaching at the discretion of the institutions’ leaders. The proposal for this approach was presented in detail to the Chief Executive in the week of January 16, 2000, and is likely to begin implementation soon. In other words, the Pakistani education system is to be expanded, almost effective immediately, to bring the madarasas into the State controlled education system, including a system of examinations in non-religious subjects for madarasa students, so that they can graduate with certification which will be of value in the marketplace. There is a genuine dilemma in the minds of most of the leadership as to what to do about Afghanistan and support for the Taliban. The entire leadership seems to realize that Pakistan had made a mistake in so overwhelmingly supporting the Taliban, but felt that it had little option at the time and has no other real options even now. There have been attempts to make Iranian leaders understand that this support for Taliban is not aimed against Iran or the Dari-speaking Afghans, but rather is seen as the only way to curb a restoration of a potentially pro-Indian/anti-Pakistani administration in Kabul.

Reports that there were 28,000 or so combat-trained Pakistanis supporting the Taliban were not disputed, but it was always noted that if the numbers were correct, then they were civilians (ie: not Pakistan Army). Clearly, there would be concern that any change in the Afghan situation which saw the return of the “28,000 Pakistanis” to Pakistan would be disastrous for Pakistani stability, given that these fighters would be pro-Taliban/Islamist and against the conventional Pakistani state. There is a strong recognition of the fact that the Islamists are against the modern concept of a nation-state, and “base their teachings and principles on Ninth Century writings”. In this, they mirror the trans-national and anti-state philosophies of Sudanese Pan-Islamic leader Hassan al-Turabi.

What has developed in Pakistan is a “two-tier” approach to Islamism. Pakistan has witnessed a significant schism in fundamentalist Islam: there are now the “traditional fundamentalists”, who espouse only those teachings which derive from “the Ninth Century”; and there are “contemporary fundamentalists” (fundamentalists without beards), who are educated in the Western sense and yet believe that the modern system has failed to work. The “contemporary fundamentalists” use all of the technologies and logic of the modern technol- ogical society to work for the collapse of the modern state. Sudan’s Hassan al-Turabi is in this category, as is former ISI chief Lt.-Gen. Hameed Gul in Pakistan. Significantly, Gen. Hameed Gul works closely (if not formally) with the major “contemporary fundamentalist” think-tank in Pakistan, the Islam- abad-based Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), which maintains a major facility and an excellent research library in Islamabad’s prestigious Jinnah Supermarket area. The IPS facility is in a building owned by a Jama’at e-Islami (JI) Senator. JI, which has not been able to win any National Assembly seats in the recent elections (it does have a couple of Senators), is the principal “contemporary fundamentalist” legitimate political wing and IPS is its key “legitimizing body”, which conducts frequent, professionally run seminars. It was at one of these that the current Government’s Foreign Minister ill-advisedly chose to state his platform in favor of signing the Comprehensive [nuclear] Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

The fact that the Pakistani Foreign Minister chose in January 2000 to use an IPS forum to deliver his message — so patently at odds with the “contemporary fundamentalist” view — shows that there remains (or remained at that time) some real naïveté within the new Government as to the nature of its opponents. There are a number of moderate Muslim organizations in Pakistan. Tabligh-e-Jamaat, for example, is a Sunni mainstream organization, now some 45 years old, based predominantly in the Raiwind area, near Lahore. It is strenuously non-violent and non-political, although there have been some contacts in recent years between some Tablighi and PML (Pakistan Muslim League) politician Ijaz ul-Haq, not necessarily with any political objective in mind. The objective of Tabligh-e-Jamaat is to preach to existing Muslims that they should be better Muslims; it is not involved in proselytization for converts. It is because of its non-political, non-aggressive approach that the institution has become so influential. If anything, however, the fact that former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director-General Lt.-Gen. Javed Nasir joined Tabligh-e-Jamaat has tended to diminish the influence of this worldwide movement. Gen. Javed was perceived as a fairly “irreligious” figure in his Army days, and his commitment to Tabligh-e-Jamaat is seen as an attempt at atonement in his later years. It should also be recalled that Gen. Javed was dismissed from the ISI post by then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, so there is little closeness between the two.

Other groups are, however, avowedly political in their fundamentalism. Lashkar-e- Toiba, although not specifically Wahabi, does recruit in Wahabi areas, for example around Multan, for its armed insurgent groups (Kashmiri “freedom fighters”). It should not be put into the same category as Tabligh-e-Jamaat. Similarly, the fundamentalist Wahabi group, Markaz ud-Dawah, should not be seen in concert with the non-political Tabligh-e-Jamaat.

It is interesting to note that there has been a connection between the Nawaz Sharif family, particularly the former Prime Minister’s father, with “fundamentalist tendencies”. This led to some flirting with fundamentalists on the part of Nawaz, but largely because he believed that it would enhance his popularity at grass-roots level, and not because he had any personal commitment to religious fundamentalism. The Nawaz family compound was built at Raiwind, in the heart of the Tablighi country, and there was always a push by Nawaz’ father for the Prime Minister to associate with some of the mullahs. The Musharraf Government feels no such compulsions, either toward making accommodations with the religious groups (in the manner that Nawaz did), or in obliging supporters of Nawaz.

The Musharraf Administration has already committed almost 100,000 troops (including those loaned to the Water and Power Development Authority [WAPDA] before the October 12, 1999, coup) to remedying infrastructural problems, particularly in the most poverty-stricken areas. There have already been significant improvements in the water and power areas, and lately there has been a massive improvement in the de-silting of irrigation waterways. This has resulted in what is likely to be an improvement in agricultural productivity of as much as 15 percent this coming season. Major surpluses in the cotton and potato production areas are expected. What the Musharraf Administration intends to do is to bring economic improvements as rapidly as possible to the poorest sectors, along with the educational transformation of the madarasas as quickly as possible. This is expected to help significantly in dampening the impact of the more fundamentalist groups. An open and very direct confrontation between the Military Government (and therefore the Army itself) and the Islamists would undoubtedly have damaging effects on the Army. Most senior and mid-level Army officers who were asked the question said that it was “inconceivable” that the Pakistan Army should be asked to fire on Pakistani civilians, just as Iranian troops would not (and perhaps could not) be used by the late Shah in 1978-79 to fire on radical mobs of Iranians.

Significantly, while there is a distinct distrust of Indian intentions at a political level, there is no overt hatred of India. The BJP Government of India is perceived as radical and unpredictable, in some senses, as evidenced (in the Pakistani perception) by its “disproportionate” reaction to the Kargil crisis. What Pakistan Army officers saw as merely another round in the India-Pakistan competition for improved dispositions in Jammu & Kashmir, and indeed one which responded to the three earlier Indian Army offensives which had won Indian advantages over the Pakistan Army in the area, suddenly became “another major war between India and Pakistan” in the eyes of the Indian media. It was frequently pointed out that while the Indian media and the BJP Government — which was fighting a re-election battle — made a massive and emotional display of the incident, the Pakistani media and public paid little attention to the conflict.

Gen. Pervez Musharraf has been extremely patient and quiet in consolidating his control over key elements of the Army, knowing that he has the core power centers under control. However, it is expected that some 10 lieutenant-generals will be retired over the coming six to 12 months, as their present terms expire. Of the corps commanders at the time of the coup, there were three who were suspect, in terms of loyalty to Gen. Musharraf, and they have been replaced since October 12, 1999. The others are regarded as loyal. In the months before the coup, it had become clear to Gen. Musharraf that there was information being leaked to “the politicians” (particularly to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif) from the monthly meetings of Corps Commanders. Gen. Musharraf and his close confidantes narrowed their assessment down to two possible candidates for the leakages. It should be borne in mind that it is, under Pakistani military regulations, forbidden for officers of the Armed Forces to have contacts with political or government officials which have not been approved by the COAS or the Command Structure. So it was clear that whoever was leaking the information was hostile to Gen. Musharraf. Within his jurisdiction, Gen. Musharraf moved one of the two suspect corps commanders. Following the next Corps Commanders’ Monthly Meeting, it was clear that the leakage was still occurring. As a result of this, Gen. Musharraf told Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that he wanted the suspect corps commander, Lt.-Gen. Tariq Pervaiz, of XII Corps, Quetta, removed, without stating the reason to Nawaz. The Prime Minister said that this would be a lengthy process.

This was all in the month preceding the coup.

Gen. Musharraf, as COAS, then moved within his jurisdiction to remove Lt.-Gen. Tariq Pervaiz from his post, and then retired him, without the Prime Minister’s approval, which legally was not required. Lt.-Gen. Tariq Pervaiz is a brother of a cabinet minister in the Nawaz Government, and that brother had also been a serving senior officer in the Army, and had been removed by (then) Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto on the grounds that he had been involved in planning a coup against him.

The Army remains the most unified and “democratic” institution in Pakistan. Although the Pakistan Army is comprised — officer corps and enlisted ranks alike — of some 95 percent Punjabis and Pathans, the question of ethnic origin or religious sect rarely arises; indeed, it is regarded as an offensive basis on which to assess a fellow soldier. The bonds of Army service, Army Branch, officer graduating class, shared combat experience, etc., by far transcend all civil society distinctions (race, economic, religious, or other background).

All key appointments under the Musharraf Administration have been with unanimous approval of the Corps Commanders’ Committee. This reflects both the strength and weakness of Gen. Musharraf. He does not have “total control”, and must operate by consensus. This, however, is one of his strong areas: he works easily with his colleagues, although he does know how to quietly marginalize his opponents when necessary. But he does not oppose (indeed, is in no position to oppose) free discussion and “voting by conscience” within the Corps Commanders’ Committee or the Cabinet. The result is that his strengths as a consensus builder, and a good listener, come to the fore in the present system. There are inter-arm differences within the Pakistan Army, however most of these are of the traditional variety, and there do not appear to be any major new schisms caused by the events of October 12, 1999. Indeed, one of the “differences” which clearly brought the confrontation to a head between the Prime Minister and the COAS — apart from the issue of assigning blame with regard to the Kargil adventure of June 1999 — was the independent appointment of an engineering officer, Lt.-Gen. Ziauddin, as DG ISI, and putting him in the running to be COAS. No Engineering officer has ever been COAS, and it is by tradition a post held by a fighting branch general: infantry, cavalry (armor) or artillery (and only two artil- lerymen have ever held the post, including Gen. Musharraf).

The October Coup

The events of October 12, 1999, particularly those undertaken by the Armed Forces, were not pre-planned. However, before leaving for Colombo, Sri Lanka, Gen. Musharraf told his close colleague and X Corps Commander, Lt.-Gen. Mehmood Ahmed, that he thought “something was up”, despite the fact that only weeks before the Prime Minister had elevated the COAS to Chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Neither Gen. Musharraf nor Lt.-Gen. Mehmood Ahmed confided this information to Lt.-Gen. Aziz, CGS, although not because his loyalty was doubted. Rather, it was not a concrete threat, but just a feeling of concern on Gen. Musharraf’s part. It is also clear that, from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s perspective, there had been no significant “pre-planning” of the events. What is known is that, on the morning of October 12, 1999, the Prime Minister was in a rural town near Multan, in the Punjab, where he was to make a routine political speech. During this time, an official came onto the stand and whispered something to the Prime Minister, who cut short his speech and immediately returned to Islamabad. It is rumored, but not confirmed, that Lt.-Gen. Ziauddin, Director-General ISI, had begun his own moves to remove Gen. Musharraf, and had basically forced the Prime Minister into acting on Ziauddin’s schedule. Subsequently, Lt.- Gen. Ziauddin arrived at GHQ at about 14.00hrs announcing that he was there to take over as COAS. Chief of the General Staff (CGS) Lt.-Gen. Muhammad Aziz was away from Rawalpindi at the time, in Murree, and returned immediately to GHQ. Meanwhile, Lt.-Gen. Ziauddin was advised that it was inappropriate for him to take over while both the COAS and CGS were off-seat. Lt.-Gen. Ziauddin subsequently proceeded by car toward the Prime Minister’s Residence, accompanied by a brigadier from Military Intelligence within X Corps. The brigadier, in the car, took out a handgun and arrested Lt.-Gen. Ziauddin. The Prime Minister’s office was unaware that Lt.-Gen. Ziauddin had been apprehended, and proceeded to announce the sacking of the COAS. A news-flash appeared on State television at 16.00hrs on October 12, 1999, announcing the dismissal of Gen. Musharraf. This took Lt.-Gen. Mehmood Ahmed by surprise, and he dispatched a X Corps major and 10 armed troops to the State television offices to insist that no further announcement be made until Gen. Musharraf could return from Colombo and the matter could be handled properly. The major delivered the message, but, at the same time the Military Secretary to the Prime Minister, a Brigadier, arrived to make preparations for the Prime Minister to come to the studios to tape his statement on the dismissal. The Brigadier called the security forces at the television station to disarm the troops, who were then locked in a room at the facility. The 17.00hrs broadcast carried the announcement of the dismissal, and the Prime Minister returned to his official residence, nearby, having taped his address to the nation, and summoned a number of senior generals.

Lt.-Gen. Mehmood Ahmed saw the 17.00hrs bulletin and immediately set off for the State Television facility with a substantial body of troops. The special security force at the station, seeing overwhelming numbers of troops, immediately disarmed, and the Brigadier/Military Secretary to the Prime Minister was arrested and locked in an office at the station. Lt.-Gen. Mehmood Ahmed and his forces immediately went then to the Prime Minister’s residence where Lt.-Gen. Mohammed Akram (QMG) was seen with the Prime Minister. When Lt.-Gen. Mehmood Ahmed asked what he was doing there, Lt.-Gen. Akram said that he had come in response to an order from the PM. Lt.-Gen. Mehmood Ahmed then told him to “go home”. When other summoned generals came, they were merely told by the guards from X Corps to “go home”. The Prime Minister was then arrested.

Lt.-Gen. Mehmood Ahmed Shah, now DG ISI, clearly has the trust of Gen. Musharraf, and is the reason why Gen. Musharraf is in office today as Chief Executive. The position of Corps Commander, X Corps, Rawalpindi, is the post in which the most trusted colleague of the COAS is usually placed. This was the case with Lt.-Gen. Mehmood Ahmed, who literally made all the running in the “counter-coup” of October 12, 1999. He, Lt.-Gen. Muhammad Khalid Aziz and Gen. Musharraf have been extremely close since their service together in the Special Services Group (SSG). However, Lt.-Gen. Aziz was not aware of the breaking events of October 12, 1999, until Lt.-Gen. Ziauddin arrived at GHQ at about 14.00hrs announcing that he was there to take over as COAS.

Lt.-Gen. Mehmood Ahmed was shifted, after the October 12, 1999, coup to the post of DG ISI because Gen. Musharraf wanted to obtain absolute control over ISI, which had until the coup been controlled by Lt.-Gen. Ziauddin. Gen. Mehmood, Gen. Musharraf and Maj.-Gen. Jamshed Gulrez (the new Corps Commander, X Corps, Rawalpindi, and formerly one of the principal “watchdogs” in ISI, monitoring Lt.-Gen. Zia- uddin), were together involved in the Kargil operation in mid-1999, and clearly have remained very much a close group. This accounts for Maj.-Gen. Jamshed Gulrez’ posting to X Corps, the most trusted operational posting in the Army.

Lt.-Gen. Aziz was initially named GOC X Corps, after the coup, because he was the most trusted ally of Lt.-Gen. Mehmood Ahmed Shah and Gen. Musharraf. Clearly, the slot of CGS has become more key given the fact that the COAS is now also Chief Executive of Pakistan. As a result, it was important to have Lt.-Gen. Aziz returned to that post. Significantly, Maj.-Gen. Jamshed Gulrez was promoted from ISI where he had a key position of trust to Gen. Musharraf. When, in 1998, Lt.-Gen. Ziauddin was appointed by the Prime Minister as DG ISI, Gen. Musharraf moved quickly to ensure that all of the posts around Ziauddin were filled by officers loyal to Gen. Musharraf. As a result, Gen. Musharraf was in a strong position to be aware of what information Lt.-Gen. Ziauddin was receiving, and what his views and movements were. Maj.-Gen. Jamshed Gulrez was one of the key inside officers appointed to ISI by Gen. Musharraf. The first of the Corps Commanders to be retired this year is likely to be Lt.-Gen. Saeed-us Zafar, GOC XI Corps, Peshawar; followed by Lt.-Gen. Tahir Ali Qureishi, GOC XXXI Corps, Bhawalpur; and then Lt.-Gen. Khalid Maqbool, GOC IV Corps, Lahore. As well, Lt.-Gen. Iftakhar Ahmed Shah, Commander, Air Defence Command, will retire before the end of February, and was at the time of writing undergoing his farewell tour. Lt.-Gen. Mouhammad Aziz, the CGS, persuaded Gen. Musharraf to take a quiet line with Lt.-Gen. Sailim Haider (Master-General of the Ordnance: MGO), Lt.- Gen. Mohammed Akram (Quarter-Master General: QMG), and Lt.-Gen. Amjad Shoaib (Adjutant-General: AG), who were “under a cloud” for possible complicity in the plans by then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to remove Gen. Musharraf as Chief of Army Staff (COAS). There was no direct evidence that they participated in the plans, largely promoted by former ISI chief, Lt.-Gen. Ziauddin, to remove Gen. Musharraf, so they have been given “the benefit of the doubt”, but they will be retired within 90 days under normal rotation (between now and May 2000, as their birthdays occur), and in the meantime have little freedom of movement in their present assignments as Principal Staff Officers (PSOs) in GHQ.

Lt.-Gen. Ziauddin, however, is expected to ultimately be court-martialled.


The coup of October 12, 1999, arrested an eight-year, virtually unbroken slide of the Pakistani political and economic entity into anomie, corruption, radicalism, misadventure and collapsing infrastructure. Because of the nature of the Army leaders behind the coup, a window of opportunity was created which could bring about an amelioration in the India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir and other issues.

There will, however, be a continuation of political “hostilities” at some levels between the two states largely because of domestic political realities in both states. Despite this, a real opportunity exists to improve underlying strategic bilateral relations, particularly if constructive actions were undertaken out of the public gaze.

The Pakistan Administration of Gen. Pervez Musharraf recognizes the centrality to Pakistan’s survival as a viable political and social entity of rapidly reversing the combination of illiteracy, poverty and religious extremism which is destroying the country’s international status, inward investment and security. It has begun taking steps to correct the situation, but is aware that it must do so without creating a national schism. The net result should be, over the coming year, a marked reduction in civilian Pakistani support for the jihad movement in Afghanistan and Kashmir. However, it is likely that it will take at least two years for a major transformation in the strategic situation.

The greater the Indian publicity on the “success”, effectiveness or outrage of the jihadis in Indian Jammu & Kashmir, the greater the Pakistani grassroots support for, and interest in, supporting Kashmiri insurrection against Indian rule, and the more difficult it will be for the Pakistan Government to curtail the jihad movement. The Musharraf Administration believes that it has, for the first time in many years, been able to bring the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) organization under real control, and in so doing it believes that it has minimized the influence of those ISI officers who feel that the jihad movements (in Kashmir and Afghanistan) are the key to Pakistan’s policies.

From our research, it was apparent that Pakistani officials did not believe that anyone could possibly believe that the ISI was behind all, or even most, of the Kashmiri and Afghani jihadists. They point out that the scope of even the Kashmiri jihad operations by the various private groups is patently beyond the financial scope of the ISI and Pakistan Army budgets. [Similarly, to Pakistani officials, it is clear that they do not have the security resources to directly confront the jihadist movements, even if it was politically expedient to do so.] There are no signs of disunity within the Pakistan Armed Forces over the rôle of the Armed Forces in governing Pakistan during this interim period.

There seem no clear, major paths of financing for the Pakistani Islamist groups which control the various jihad operations in Kashmir and Afghanistan. That is to say, there are no outstanding financiers, either state or private. Much of the funding clearly comes through collections at mosques within Pakistan; some is believed to come in via wealthy Saudi businessmen (and possibly some Pakistani businessmen). Some small funding and equipment for a few of the jihad movements has clearly come from the ISI, although this is by no means the preponderance of the funding or support.

It seems certain that some of the military equipment which has gone to aid jihad movements originated with the United States during the Afghan war against the Soviets. Much of this has in the past been sold, or siphoned off, to private individuals who have been trading it over the ensuing decade, not just to the Kashmiri and Afghan movements, but also to Islamist causes elsewhere. This highlights the corruption which has taken place, with the apparent connivance of elected officials during the Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif governments, within ISI and other Pakistani agencies. The Musharraf Administration appears to be starting to tackle this problem, and there have been recent raids which have netted some illegal weapons within the country.