The Trial

Declaring a state of emergency on Nov 3, 2007, Musharraf held the constitution of Pakistan “in abeyance”. Article 6, Clause (1) in effect on November 3, 2007 did not describe “holding the constitution in Abeyance” as an “act of high treason”.
This clause was substituted and “abeyance” was inserted into the constitution with the 18th Amendment on April 19, 2010. Article 12 (2) gives the law retrospective effect for “abrogating or subverting the constitution” but is quiet about “abeyance”.
The then COAS was forced to resign by the PM, to quote my article of Oct 17, 1998 titled Power Play:
“A power play did take place on Oct 6, 1998 and even though Mian Nawaz Sharif seems to have come out ahead, he should thank his lucky stars he had Gen Jahangir Karamat to contend with, a mild man with a gentlemanly demeanour known not only for his superior intellect but a firm commitment to democracy.
“If the inclination of the politicians to indulge in power play in the uniformed ranks persists, the PM may well have sufficient cause to remember JK with a lot of nostalgia, sooner rather than later”.
Those bereft of combat experience are usually gung-ho about sending others to their deaths. Seeking military glory and out of harm’s way themselves, the Kargil adventure was the brainchild of Gen Musharraf, Lt Gens Mahmood and Aziz. Maj Gen (later Lt Gen) Javed Hasan, the then Comd FCNA was neglected and the required logistics in the most difficult terrain were not ensured.
Ordered to hold hurriedly made mountaintop bunkers, our men were without adequate ammunition, rations, equipment or water. Their artillery support was insufficient, at crunch time non-existent.
Have we ever properly recognised the bravery and fortitude of the gallant soldiers of the Northern Light Infantry (NLI), of young officers valiantly leading their vastly outnumbered men in the face of concentrated artillery shelling? If I name one I will have to name many, the sacrifice of one can only be humbled by their outstanding courage.
Calculating it to be both a military and media opportunity, the Indians took it. The real downside of Kargil is that, though multiple more Indians were killed compared to Pakistanis, the canard about mujahideen being engaged rather than our regular troops destroyed our credibility. The world now remains sceptical even when we are clearly stating the truth. Incidentally the brave souls of the NLI never got to see their generals. What stopped Musharraf as COAS from visiting his troops even once in the field, in Kargil, Swat or Fata?
Somebody please tell me I am wrong! The present crop of senior officers are quite different, almost all have seen active combat experience during the counter-insurgency in Swat or Fata.
Musharraf cited severe economic and political problems afflicting the nation for his coup. Everyone and his uncle know that the real reason was to avoid enquiry into his Kargil adventure.
On being made COAS, Musharraf put in a fail-safe mechanism to foil any attempt to remove him in the way Jahangir Karamat was removed by immediately making Mahmood and Aziz Comd 10 Corps and CGS respectively. Considering Lt-Gen Tariq Parvez a threat, Musharraf retired him a few days before his normal tenure in Oct 1999 – indicating things out of the ordinary simmering in the military.
Sharif pre-empted Musharraf’s ‘planned coup’ by sacking him while he was in the air on his way back from Sri Lanka and appointing the DG ISI Ziauddin Butt COAS in his place. Instead of physically moving to GHQ immediately, and, more importantly, taking control of the GHQ Communications Centre (shades of Blenderblock in Operation ‘Valkyrie’), Butt made the cardinal military mistake of telephoning orders from the PM’s House. An SSG Company kept ready at Mangla Airfield was heli-lifted to the PM’s House, troops of the 111 Brigade of 10 Corps secured the PM’s House.
Another SSG Company drove in from Tarbela to take over GHQ. Even the DG ISI’s rank and file remained loyal to GHQ and not to Butt. Only three generals were initially involved in the Oct 12 military counter-coup, Muzaffar Osmany becoming ‘more loyal than the king’ once he was sure that the PM was in Mahmood’s custody. With the possible fence-sitters among the Corps Comds all falling into line, the spectre of a possible civil war that raised its head in the armed confrontation at PTV subsided.
Information Minister Senator Pervez Rasheed claims that the PML-N move against Musharraf is neither out of vindictiveness nor revenge for Oct 12, 1999 but in compliance with the Supreme Court (SC) diktat for Musharraf’s Nov 3, 2007 action.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar says there is no intention to malign the army. The conventional wisdom in the streets may be thinking otherwise. More dangerous can be the perception in the uniform that the objective is to malign and humiliate the Pakistan Army.
The Musharraf soap opera is a golden opportunity for spoiling PML-N-military relations – for those who would want to see them spoiled.
Pakistani society is polarised, many want Musharraf held accountable, many want him to walk free. Significantly even those in the military who do not much care for him do not want a former COAS being humiliated in a civilian court.
A majority doesn’t care less either way, their ambitions are more practical and less emotional, limited to their base needs of electricity, water, gas, food, etc. The precedence is there of the ongoing General Court Martial in the NLC case against three general officers, on the evidence available it will be surprising if they are not punished.
While there is need for Musharraf to answer some tough questions, the Kargil trio need being held accountable for excesses above and beyond the scope of their rank and appointment. Like the NLC case a Kargil enquiry should be in the military domain and out of the public eye, the NLI soldiers consigned to their deaths in Kargil for their selfish personal benefit did not have the luxury of such a choice.
They did not reason why, they just did what they were ordered to do, and died.
The first principle of war (and peace) is the ‘selection and maintenance of aim’. Is the primary aim to take Pakistan out of the multiple crises the country is bogged down in or to risk getting bogged down contending with the sensitivities within the military?
Mian Nawaz Sharif should kindly spare us this trial of public patience.