Critical army letter targets Musharraf

By ANWAR IQBAL   |   Nov. 7, 2003 at 2:35 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- A letter sent to members of the opposition in Pakistan on a military letterhead has caused panic in President Pervez Musharraf's government because it says he "has been imposed on this nation."

"We want to assure the nation that this army belongs to you and to Pakistan ... Pervez Musharraf and his clique has been imposed on this nation," says the letter seen by United Press International.

Last week the government arrested Javed Hashmi, a member of Parliament, who tried to present the letter to the speaker of the National Assembly, wanting it included in the official parliamentary record. Hashmi now faces sedition charges.

The letter appeared weeks after U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said he was unsure if the rank and file of the Pakistan army was cooperating with Musharraf in the war against terrorism. He retracted the statement on Oct. 6, maintaining the "institutions are ... 200 percent behind the nation and behind the president."

The letter, however, creates fresh doubts about the army's commitment to Musharraf and also reflects resentment, at least among those who sent the letter, against his decision to back the U.S.-led war against terrorism. The letter also raises questions about the decision to send Pakistani troops to Kargil, a region in Indian Kashmir, in 1999, which began a mini-war between the two rivals and caused the deaths of thousands of soldiers on both sides.

Opposition leaders in Pakistan said Musharraf, who was then commander in chief of the army, planned the operation to derail then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's efforts to mend relations with India.

On Sharif's invitation, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Lahore, Pakistan, in February 1999 and the two leaders signed a historic declaration of friendship. Less than three months after Kargil, Musharraf removed Sharif in October and seized power.

Initially, the international community treated him with disdain and suspicion. But after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, when he dumped Pakistan's former Taliban allies and supported U.S. war efforts in Afghanistan, Musharraf became a close U.S. ally.

The letter refers to these events and also to the resentment in the army over the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Pakistani government rejected the letter as a fake and arrested Hashmi, chairman of the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy, the umbrella organization of the country's main political parties. He has been charged with sedition for distributing a fake letter to instigate the army against Musharraf and his government.

The text of the letter translated from the original Urdu reads:

"On behalf of the Pakistani armed forces, we want to assure the nation that this army belongs to you and to Pakistan. We expect every member of this Parliament, no matter which party or group he or she may belong to, to rise beyond party interests and work for upholding the sovereignty of the Parliament.

"Pervez Musharraf and his clique have been imposed on this nation. They have committed a crime against the nation and are holding the nation hostage. This is a band of thieves and looters, which is robbing its own nation without any mercy. They also have supported American Jews and Christians in shedding the blood of our Afghan brothers.

"This Pervez Musharraf has turned Pakistan, which was created as a fort for the Muslims, into a butchery where Muslims are being slaughtered.

"If we did not have this Parliament, by now our troops would have been killing innocent Iraqis along with the U.S. troops and the nation would have been receiving daily the bodies of our soldiers slain in Iraq.

"We, the officers of the Pakistan army, request the national leadership to bring the following matters before the parliament:

"1. What was our objective in Kargil (in the disputed Kashmir region where India and Pakistan fought pitched battles in 1999) and why did we have to suffer (so much) loss? India ordered an inquiry after the battle of Kargil and on its recommendation sacked several generals and brigadiers. But in Pakistan, no such inquiry was ever held although we lost more (people) in Kargil than we did in the 1965 and 1971 wars.

"Perhaps, the nation does not know that Maj. Gen. Javed-ul-Husnain commanded (the Pakistani troops) in Kargil. Before that he served in America for four years as Pakistan's military attaché under CIA's supervision. This was started on America's urging.

"Officers and soldiers working under this man were so annoyed with his irresponsible leadership and faulty orders that they almost rebelled against him. Yet, instead of being sacked, he was promoted and made a lieutenant general.

"2. What happened after Oct. 12, 2001, (when the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan began)? How many units were ordered to surround Islamabad (to avoid a mass protest)? Who was made commander of Rawalpindi's 111 brigade (which is responsible for Islamabad's security)? What has been happening in the GHQ (general headquarters)?

"3. Before the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan began, every general and brigadier was allotted expensive commercial and residential lands in Lahore, although most of them had already received the lands they are entitled to receive from the government.

"Upholding its sovereignty, the parliament should form a judicial commission, comprising those judges of the Supreme Court and high courts who were performing their duties before Oct. 12, 2001.

"Patriotic officers of the Pakistani armed forces reveal national secrets before this commission as part of their national duty, so that those who have committed crimes (against the nation) can be punished according to the (Pakistani) constitution."

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