Col. Alok Mathur, SM (Veteran)
Tom Weiner of New York Times had written about sensational civil coup and counter coup by Army in Pakistan on 14 October 1999 ‘For months Prime Minister Nawaz Sharrif and General Parvez Musharraf were like two scorpions in a bottle waiting to strike. General Musharraf was detailed to go to Colombo to attend a week long Golden Jubilee celebration of Sri Lankan Army along with his staff and a team of diplomats. Pakistan International Airbus 320 carrying 190 passengers took off at 1300 hours on 12 October 1999 from Colombo International Airport for Karachi for return Journey with Pak Army Chief and his entourage after conclusion of the ceremony. At 1700 hours, Nawaz Sharif dismissed General Musharraf and installed a favourite, Lt Gen Khwaja Ziauddin, Head of the ISI, as new Chief of Pak Army. It was a kind of Civilian Coup against Military establishment.
PIA Flight PK 805 reached Karachi at 1800 hours but denied Landing. The runaway was blocked with Fire engines and Trucks. The Aircraft kept circling on top. PIA pilot Captain Sarawat reported short on fuel and asked permission to land .He was told to take Aircraft to Oman or to India. The baffled pilot informed General Musharraf regarding the critical situation. He came to cockpit and tried calling Lahore and Islamabad control Towers but again no response. Finally, he contacted Dubai ATC and relayed SOS message to Lt Gen Muzzafar Usmani , Corps Commander, Karachi Corps to take over Airport and facilitate safe landing. Mean while ATC Karachi directed PIA flight to proceed to Nawabshah Air strip, a suburb town near Karachi. Fortunately, General Usmani and his commando team reacted fast and reached Karachi Airport and took control of Air Traffic Control tower by 1900 hours .
The PIA Airbus landed safely with five minutes of fuel left. General Musharraf was received by Corps commander and safely escorted to Headquarters. By 2000 hours, 100 Brigade took over Islamabad and Lahore TV/ Radio station. Pak PM and President were put under House Arrest .Martial Music was being played on TV and Radio. General Musharraf addressed the worried Nation at 0300 hours early morning on 13 October 1999 that Pak Army, the saviour of Pakistan, has taken over the country. There was no bloodshed. During his tenure as President and Chief Executive; he survived four more attempts of his assassination by Human bombs / Car bombs. He was given a covert security cover by CIA, which provided the intelligence inputs well in advance. It is said “A cat has nine Lives”.
On 05 February 2023 early morning, the former president and Chief of Army Staff, General Musharraf, who was 79 years old and was admitted since last year in American hospital died after prolonged illness at Dubai in UAE. He was suffering from Amyloidosis and his vital organs were malfunctioning. Musharraf who had been residing in Dubai since March 2016 was facing treason charges for suspending the constitution in 2007 and imposition of Emergency. Moreover, he had been declared fugitive in Benazir Bhutto murder case and Red Mosque issue. General Parvez Musharraf was tenth president of Pakistan from 2001 to 2008, a four star General, 7th Chief of Army staff from 1998 to 2001. He tendered his resignation in 2008 to avoid Impeachment by Pakistan Assembly.
Parvez was born on 11 August 1943 in Neher Wali haveli in old Delhi India. His father Syed Musharrafuddin, a graduate from AMU was Accounts Officer in foreign office of British Indian Govt and mother Zarin was from Lucknow and a graduate from IP college Delhi University. The Syed family moved to Karachi after Partition and his father joined Pakistan foreign services and was posted to Ankara, Turkey. The family came back to Karachi and Young Parvez joined Saint Patrik School and later admitted in Forman Christian College for his higher studies. He has two brothers, Javed an economist settled in Rome and Naved a doctor based in Illinois USA.
He was selected for Pakistan Military Academy as officer cadet in 29th Regular course in 1961 at the age of 18. He passed out from Academy as graduate in 1964 and was commissioned in to Regiment of Artillery. His first posting was at Indo Pak border near Khemkaran sector. During India Pakistan War in 1965, he was posted in the unit as Gun Position Officer and carried our intense shelling during Khemkaran offensive. He remained with troops and guns under heavy shelling by Indian Artillery and was wounded also. He was awarded Imitiaz Sanad Medal for gallantry.
After the war, he volunteered for Special Service Group (SSG) and after tough probation was inducted in to SSG. He received his Para-wing during tenure with SSG. He was promoted as Captain served with SSG from 1966 to 1972. He was a company commander during 1971 War under took various special missions deep inside enemy territory He was promoted to Lt Col in 1972 and Col in 1974. He commanded a SSG brigade in Siachen in 1987 and was commended by General Zia ul Haque. He launched assault on Bila Fond La but Indian Army occupied entire Siachen glacier under Operation Meghdoot. Musharraf Brigade suffered heavy casualties and had to be pulled back.
He never digested the Siachen defeat and pledged revenge at appropriate time. He was promoted to Major General in 1991 and was appointed as Commander, 40 Infantry Division based in Okara. He made a plan in 1992 for secret operation in Kargil but PM Benazir rejected it. He was appointed as Director General Military Operations DGMO in 1993 and served closely with Army Chief till 1996. He was very close to Benazir and visited USA number of times and made a good rapport with American NSA. He commanded the famous strike corps (1 Corps) based at Mangla region in POK, after his promotion to Lt General from 1995 to 1998. He was sworn in as 7th Army Chief in 1998 as General Jahagir Karamat was removed by then PM Nawaz Sharif govt by superseding two Senior Lt Generals (Gen Kuli Khan and Gen Nawaz Khan) due to his integrity to nation and balanced views. Even, Shahbaaz Sharif and Benazir, leader of opposition supported his elevation to Army Chief. What Nawaz Sharif could not read was that General Parvez Musharraf had different Plan which he had conceived long time back for occupation of Kargil Heights without his approval. He was also appointed 10th Chairman of Joint Chief of Staff Committee in 1998
The story of Kargil was one of deceit and treachery by one person General Parvez Musharraf, then COAS Pak Army. To satisfy personal ego and ambition, he master minded and Launched Operation Koh Paima ( as named by him ) without knowledge of Pak PM Nawaz Sharif but with support of few sycophant generals directly working under him. Operation Koh Piama was already underway when Lahore Peace Declaration was being signed by two PMs of India and Pakistan, as a consequence long negotiations and Bus Diplomacy initiated by PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee on 21 February 1999.
The intrusion in Kargil Heights beyond LOC commenced in Jan 1999 by NLI/ SSG troops and they were well entrenched by May 1999 and occupied three pockets covering Mushkoh, Dras and Yaldar Batalik Sector. The strength was almost division strength. IA detected the intrusion in first week of May 1999. The response was ferocious .Two divisions were mobilised. Kargil Heights were regained by end June 1999 . The Kargil War ended on 26 July 1999 with complete victory for India. 3000 Pak Soldiers were killed. India also suffered 400 plus casualties. The entire world opinion went against Pakistan. There was demand by Naval Chief Admiral Fasih Bukhari, Air Chief Marshal P Q Mehdi, General Kuli Khan in Pakistan to court Martial Parvez Musharraf as they were kept in dark. Pak PM blamed Parvez Musharraf for Kargil Fiasco and heavy Loss of Pak troops .That was beginning of mistrust between Army Chief and PM of Pakistan. The coup was in the pipe line. The Chess game had begun. Nawaz to mend fences extended Musharraf tenure by 2 Years.
The Counter coup by Army on 13 October 1999, Nawaz Sharif was checkmated and put under arrest. He declared state of Emergency, suspended the constitution and assumed power as Chief Executive. The move was criticised by International community and Pak was suspended from Common Wealth. Sharif was deported in exile to Saudi Arabia. He appointed new Naval and Air Chief and defused discontent in Armed forces. He banned all political parties in 2000 and announced his own cabinet and appointed Technocrats and diplomats. He appointed himself President on 20 June 2001. Then, 9/11 happened and US wanted to launch offensive on Al Queda hide outs in Afghanistan who were harboured by Taliban.
He played a double game and authorised US troops to have bases in Pakistan which was not liked by fundamentalists. Supreme court directed him to hold elections by 12 Oct 2002. The elections were held on schedule and pro Musharraf party PML Q emerged as single largest party followed by PPP of Benazir Bhutto. He nominated Shaukat Aziz as PM and held appointment of President till 2007. Afterwards, polls showed 64 % against second term for Musharraf due to controversies like Atomic pilferage, Lal Masjid Seize, Insurgency in NW province, Suspension of Chief Justice and joint criticism by Nawaz and Benazir made him to resign from Presidency. Benazir was assassinated on 27 Dec 2007 at Rawalpindi and again he was blamed for lapse. Sharif came back in Sep 2007, he was deported back to Saudi Arabia. He handed over appointment of Army Chief to General Kayani in 28 November 2007.
Musharraf once again declared emergency in November 2007. Public protests forced general elections in 2008. PPP came to power and a coalition govt was formed and Yusuf Raza Gilani was sworn as PM. On 7 August 2007, both PPP and PML Nawaz asked for impeachment of Musharraf.. He finally resigned on 18 August 2008 and on 23 Nov 2008 , he left Pakistan and proceeded to London. He returned in 2013 but was disqualified for nomination. He left for Dubai for his treatment and extended Exile. He has finally succumbed to the dreaded disease Amylodosis. He was sentenced to death on 17 Dec 2019 for treason and murder of Benazir .
The death sentence was annulled in 2020 by Lahore High Court but he could not return to his pure land. Former Cricket Captain Imran Khan, chairman of Tehreek e insaf party took over as the 22nd Prime minister of Pakistan on Aug 2018 and forced to resign in April 2022 due to differences with General Qamar Bajwa. New coalition govt headed by Shahbaaz Sharif , brother of Nawaz Sharif with sp of PPP is now in power. The wife Sheba and son Bilal had requested Pak PM to allow ailing Parvez to come back to motherland. Nawaz Sharif is also back after long exile in Saudi Arabia, has condoned the terminally ill foe. Musharraf will be remembered as mastermind of Kargil Blunder of 1999. New Army Chief General Syed Asim Muni has acceded to the request by his family and His mortal remains will be finally laid to rest at Karachi .