The 1999 coup in Pakistan that saw the ouster of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was pre-planned by the then army chief General Pervez Musharraf to pre-empt his own removal by the government, according to a new book by a former general.
In his book 'Yeh Khamoshi Kahan Tak', Lt General Shahid Aziz, the then DG Military Operations and close aide of Musharraf, revealed that even the army units of the notorious 111 Brigade were issued directions in writing before October 12, 1999 to prepare for the operation.
The book says several meetings were held at the Army House to strike at the right time and remove Sharif's government, The News daily reported.
Those involved in the preparation of the plot included the then CGS Lt General Aziz Khan, then Corps Commander Pindi Lt General Mehmood, then DG MI Major General Ahsanul Haq (who later became DG ISI), then DG ISPR Brigadier Rashid Qureshi (who was later given shoulder promotion as Major General), then Personal Staff Officer to COAS Brigadier Nadeem Taj (who later became DG ISI) and then Maj Gen Aziz (author).
Before leaving for Sri Lanka, Musharraf had passed the following verbal directions to Lt General Mehmood, Lt Gen Khan and the author, "All three of you would be individually authorised to issue orders for the removal of the government. I hold you three responsible for this (to act and remove the government), the report quoted the book written in Urdu.
Musharraf explained that the purpose of authorising three officers to sack the elected government was to avoid a situation where if the three could not meet or talk with each other, anyone of them should be in a position to act.
Musharraf and others, who hatched the plot, were apprehending that he could be removed as army chief and replaced by the then ISI chief Lt Gen Ziauddin Butt. The 111th Infantry Brigade is an infantry brigade of the Pakistan Army notable for its frequent role in military coups since Pakistan's independence.
Aziz wrote in his book that the then DG Military Intelligence, Maj Gen Ahsan, who was later made DG ISI, was not only involved in the planning stage but had been informing Musharraf and others relevant that Sharif had made up his mind to replace him with Ziauddin Butt, the report added.
Aziz's book says that before Musharraf's departure for Sri Lanka, several meetings were held at the Army House which were chaired by him to finalise the strategy to remove the government. It frequently targets civilians in markets, cafes and commercial streets in Shiite areas in an attempt to undermine confidence in the government, as well as members of the security forces.
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