Wednesday October 04, 2023

1999 coup anniversary: Where are the main characters now?

October 13, 2021
1999 coup anniversary: Where are the main characters now?

ISLAMABAD: Where are the main characters who played a key role in imposing martial law on this day in 1999 and what are they doing now? And where are those whose elected government was dismissed on October 12, 1999?

“I authorize all three -- Gen Mahmood [Ahmed], Gen Aziz [Khan] and [Gen] Shahid [Aziz] -- individually to issue orders for toppling the government,” was what the then Chief of the Army Staff Gen Pervez Musharraf said “authorizing and holding us responsible” while ending the meeting, according to the book “Yeh Khamoshi Kahan Tuk”, written by Lt-Gen (retd) Shahid Aziz, who was then the Director General of the Military Operations.

“I am saying this so that if there is no communication amongst you or any other impediment crops up, there is no hindrance in taking the action,” Musharraf said, wrapping up the discussion. This was the last meeting before Musharraf embarked upon his Sri Lanka visit.

The book says the decision was that if [Prime Minister] Nawaz Sharif removed Musharraf in his absence from Pakistan, the government should be quickly overthrown. It adds that for many days, meetings were being held at Musharraf’s residence in this connection, which were attended by Shahid Aziz, Mahmood Ahmed, Commander 10 Corps, Aziz Khan, Chief of General Staff, Gen Ihsanul Haq, Director General of the Military Intelligence, Brig Rashed Qureshi, Inter-Services Public Relations chief and Musharraf’s personal staff officer.

Musharraf, who ruled as the chief executive and then as the president of Pakistan for nine years, has been abroad for long and is not keeping good health. Nothing has been heard about him for quite some time. He seems to have no plan to return to Pakistan. He faced a high treason case for imposing an emergency in November 2007. No trial was held for the promulgation of martial law. He tried his luck in the political arena but did not succeed.

Some time after his retirement, Mahmood Ahmed became an active member of the Tablighi Jamaat. He has since stayed away from the media. He was the most powerful figure in the military regime during its initial years. He was later made director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

The whereabouts of the author of the book, Shahid Aziz, are also not known for long. In his book, he has repeatedly written that he used to speak candidly when he worked closely with Musharraf, and was apparently Snot liked for that reason. He was later made the chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), a post he quit after concessions were given by the prime minister in different corruption cases.

Aziz Khan is living a quiet life after his retirement and has never given an interview to any media outlet. He was also one of the most influential persons during that regime.

Lt-Gen Muzaffar Usmani, who as the Karachi Corps Commander, had made it possible for the plane carrying Musharraf back from Sri Lanka to land safely at Karachi, was found dead in his car in Karachi in October 2020. Police said he was found lying in the driving seat of his car, parked off the main road near the Do Darya traffic signal in DHA near the sea and that he might have suffered a fatal heart attack.

Not long after the imposition of martial law, Musharraf had got rid of Mahmood Ahmed and Usmani for his own reasons.

After his retirement, Ihsanul Haq has also been living a quiet life. He rarely gives interviews to TV channels.

On this day in 1999, Nawaz Sharif, several members of his family and senior leaders of the PML-N were arrested and remained behind bars for a long time to come and faced a host of cases including charges of hijacking.

Less than a year after the sacking of his government, Nawaz Sharif along with many family members went into exile in Saudi Arabia to remain there for the next seven years. Nawaz staged a comeback in 2007 after Benazir Bhutto had also flown back ending her self-exile.

More than two decades later, Nawaz Sharif is in Britain from where he keeps speaking to his party via video link. He became the prime minister for the third time because of the 2013 general elections. He could not fight the following parliamentary polls because of the Supreme Court-imposed lifelong disqualification.

Shahbaz Sharif, who had reluctantly accompanied his elder brother to Saudi Arabia, was also elected the chief minister of Punjab in 2008 and 2013. He was made the president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) following Nawaz Sharif’s ineligibility.

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who had been detained in 1999 for being the PIA chairman, had also been arraigned in the plane hijacking case. He remained in jail on this charge for a long time. After Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification, he was made the prime minister. He is now the senior vice president of the PML-N.

Saeed Mehdi, the then principal secretary of the prime minister, had also been charged in the hijacking case. He remained in jail for a long time.