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Shakil Shaikh
Sunday, December 09, 2007
From Print Edition
 
 

 

ISLAMABAD: President Pervez Musharraf’s Chief of Staff (COS) Lt Gen (R) Hamid Javed will be relieved of his job next weekend.

 

The president acceded to his request to allow him finally bow out. With his departure the office of COS will be wrapped up for good.

 

Lt Gen (R) Hamid Javed got several civil and military distinctions and honours in his 42-year-long military career and as COS.

 

“All these six years as COS to the president were very challenging. It was a satisfying experience,” said Hamid Javed.

 

He got the distinction to be the longest-serving COS with unblemished record.

 

Lt Gen (R) Hamid Javed termed the judicial crisis and imposition of emergency as “unfortunate” steps. “I tried very hard to play my part in averting and preventing the judicial crisis and imposition of emergency.”

 

Though General Hamid enjoyed the status of a minister, yet he drove his staff car himself with none of his sons or daughter getting any lucrative job in the military or civil administration. He will be finally dinned out by December 15 — the day the president is set to restore the constitution and lift emergency three weeks before the general elections.

 

The outgoing COS said in firm tone that elections would be held on time and with it the much talked about transition would be completed.

 

In an informal chat, General Hamid confirmed that he was the only one in the Presidency or the government camps who maintained “extremely good and cordial relations” with deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry. “I had frequent telephonic talks with Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and met him often following the eruption of judicial crisis.”

 

He admitted that despite his best efforts and will of the president the deposed CJ did not agree to contact President Musharraf to bridge the gap created after March 9.

 

He said the president expressed his wish publicly and privately that he wanted to bridge the gap between him and the deposed CJ but the latter did not respond. “I failed only in this area despite my strong will to help the two to start talking and meeting,” he added.

 

General Hamid took over as the president’s Chief of Staff just after 9/11 and on the unfortunate demise of Lt Gen Ghulam Ahmed, who died in a car crash.

 

“I and the president were both at the funeral of General GA when our eyes met each other. I was not aware that a big-time assignment was in the wings for me,” recalled General Hamid Javed.

 

On the same evening, President General Pervez Musharraf offered him the job of his COS, which General Javed accepted as a honour but kept working both as DG HIT and COAS for sometime to finish important assignments.

 

Being an armoured officer, he is the proud author of Al-Zarrar Tank and restored and materialised the MBT Al-Khalid project, which are now mainstay of the army’s armoured corps comprising around 3,000 tanks. He was the person who authored and produced “King of the Battle” and also served as the closest comrade of President (General) Pervez Musharraf.

 

“Actually, General Musharraf came to Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) several times before the famous visit of the then Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah and then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.”

 

We displayed every possible manufactured item on that occasion and the army chief was highly impressed of my abilities and achievements.”

 

Before it, Hamid Javed was not in contact with General Musharraf in any way except officially.

 

Hamid Javed, who served as COS for six years (three years in uniform and three years as a civilian), said proudly that Al-Zarrar was his brainchild with 125mm gun and Al-Khalid project was completed by him, as he served for two years at Corps Reserve at Bahawalpur before moving to HIT.

 

“Our Tank Fleet is far superior than India’s and other advanced armies and it is 100% operational,” he said. Nobody knows fully about the firepower our Armoured Corps is equipped with, he said.

 

He said his experience of three and a half years as defence attache in Washington gave him immense experience to deal with the superpower.

 

General Hamid was in Washington from 1986 to 1989 — a period of extremely good relations between Pakistan with the United States. After this, the Americans put sanctions on Pakistan and the Pressler law came into existence.

 

“I was in support of doffing the uniform by the president and so was the thinking of the president,” said Lt Gen (R) Hamid.

 

Hamid said he sacrificed his career to become corps commander for the sake of giving Pakistan armoured vehicles of its own class, equipped with extra punch.

 

A native of Rawalpindi’s College Road area, Hamid Javed’s father Mohammad Ashraf (late) was a prominent political figure who run private business. Late Ashraf (A Khaksar of Allama Mashriqi) was the man who brought Shaikh Abdullah to Liaquat Bagh rally, the only public meeting addressed by a Kashmiri leader.

 

Hamid’s is also a renowned Kashmiri family. He has one brother and two sisters. His has two sons — the junior a chartered accountant and the senior an engineer — and a daughter. One of his sons is married.

 

He got commission in the Pakistan Army after the 1965 war and got all the major education in army institutions like war course, staff college and what not. He has no ambition or future plans in hands. “I will take rest,” is what he says while relinquishing his present job.

 

He said he always wished to serve in the background as a buffer and no high profile things like media appearances or showing style stuff.

 

“I always gave correct advises whenever it were sought,” said the COS.

 

There will be no COS after eight days and the Presidency would again have a military secretary to the president and his secretaries. If he wishes there would be a principal secretary in-charge of his office.

 

Hamid Javed said he has met every key leader of the world both in Pakistan and abroad and has the honour of rubbing shoulders with mighty people and remained involved in key decision-making by the president after 2001.

 

On political side, he said he met Benazir Bhutto several times in London and Dubai and was part of the team comprising many key people like Tariq Aziz and others.

 

“I have never met Nawaz Sharif in my capacity as COS, though the president is always softer towards both Nawaz and Shahbaz. Shahbaz was more acceptable and many concessions were granted and the president showed many gestures (towards him),” said the COS. He, however, said that Nawaz remained bitter towards the president and is still bitter.

 

“Our strategy was to bring reconciliation and less confrontation ... it would help in betterment of the country,” said the COS, adding, “though I was involved with Benazir and reached a ‘tacit understanding’ with her”.

 

He said: “Yes, it was also part of this tacit understanding that if Benazir’s party won polls or she was able to muster enough support the condition of third-time prime minister would also go.”

 

He, however, said several points of this tacit understanding were already torn apart by Benazir and her party members.

 

“The conflict of interest is so deep and wide that despite all our efforts the understanding has not been honoured by Benazir in letter and spirit because her aides did not want all this,” he maintained.

 

He said Benazir and Maulana Fazlur Rehman would not boycott the polls, adding, “I would be glad if Benazir performs well within her home province Sindh where the Q-League has fielded its stalwarts to win majority of seats.”

 

His input on future scenario reveals that there would be a “hung parliament” with four major parties to make coalition for forming the government — Q-League, PML-N, PPP of Benazir Bhutto and MMA or Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

 

He said former Chief Minister Punjab Pervaiz Elahi would be the parliamentary leader of the PML-Q and there is no doubt about it as former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz opted a way out gracefully.

 

“The present lot of Q-Leaguers wants to become more powerful with bigger share of power and Shaukat Aziz finds himself nowhere ... it was his personal decision,” he said. He termed Shaukat Aziz a non-political man.

 

He said in a firm tone that emergency will be lifted on December 15 and the constitution restored. But, he added, it has not yet been decided whether or not judges of the superior judiciary would be taking oath under the 1973 Constitution.

 

In fact, he said, previously all those judges who took oath under the PCO when General Musharraf took over, did not take oath again when the constitution was restored in 2002.

 

“No decision on this point has yet been taken...it’s a two-way street,” he said.

 

He said it was very clear that Nawaz Sharif’s nomination would be rejected but rejection of nominations of Shahbaz Sharif was a “surprising one”.

 

Lt Gen (R) Hamid Javed has already started meeting important people and his dine out will take place next week. Would this important chapter of our national history be unfolded by him in the form of a best seller or in any other form?