LONDON: Nawaz Sharif’s consistent advice to both Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari not to give extension to COAS Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has failed to get the desired results.
Knowledgeable sources confirmed that every time Nawaz Sharif met either PM Gilani or President Zardari, he did not fail to tell them how he was treated on that fateful night of October 12, 1999 at the hands of the top military commander, whom he had picked after ignoring his senior General Ali Kuli Khan.
The dramatic news of extension in service of the Army chief is said to have come as a major surprise for the Nawaz Camp here in London, as he was not expecting this to happen. He has been telling the media in the past that in his view, General Kayani would not apply for an extension. In his interview with Geo TV in December last year, Nawaz Sharif had said the same thing; he did not think General Kayani would be interested in getting an extension in service. The indirect message for General Kayani was that he should not consider the option of extension and go home with honour and dignity.
Sources revealed that when last year Prime Minister Gilani visited the Sharif brothers at Raiwind, he gave the impression that the military was fully behind him. But Nawaz cautioned him to be more circumspect. He told him that during his second tenure, one day a file was brought to him with the note to allot 25 acres of land in the name of the corps commander, Rawalpindi, who belonged to Faisalabad. When he showed reluctance to sign, his confidant told him there was no harm in granting this favour to a corps commander who might be of some help to his government one day. Nawaz bought his argument and signed the file but was shocked to see on October 12, 1999, the same general walking towards him in the besieged PM House to force him to resign. This same general not only threatened Nawaz but also ensured that he was handcuffed and transported to Karachi in a faulty plane, which took several hours to reach its destination.
Soon after this meeting at Raiwind, Sharif had met President Zardari in Islamabad at a dinner and once again Nawaz narrated to his host how he was betrayed and mistreated by General Musharraf for whom he had gone an extra mile to make him the Army chief. Nawaz also recalled how General Zia treated ZAB. In 1998, Nawaz repeated the mistake of ZAB and appointed Musharraf after ignoring General Ali Kuli and Musharraf too would have liked to send him to the gallows had Bill Clinton not come to his rescue.
The sources said Nawaz had been trying hard to convey to the Gilani-Zardari duo that politicians should not give extension to generals and should only appoint the senior-most army commander as the Army chief, as this would bring professionalism to the Army.