THE whole nation was witness to Musharraf's boastful statements over the past two years, claiming: "I am not afraid of anything", "I will face the courts" etc. Where is he now? Fled like a thief in the night! Our well-known defence analyst and former army officer, Ikram Sehgal, dubbed Musharraf as a "G T Road General" - based on the fact that Musharraf's whole career was spent moving from one place to another along the G T Road. He never took active part in any war, never fired a shot at the enemy and never faced enemy fire. How ironic that such a man became responsible for our national safety. A similar case was that of Yahya Khan, and the country was broken up.
Now our G T Road General has
'fled' the country - a country seething with blood, terrorism, suicide attacks, attacks on our jawans and innocent civilians, a country serving as mercenaries to the Americans. We are now a divided nation killing each other. Our soldiers are not facing bullets from outsiders but from the enemies within; and all this because our G T Road General buckled down at one phone call, a threat. He lied, telling us that if he had not accepted US demands they would have pushed us back into the stone age, and that India would have agreed to provide facilities.
The Indians, having no common border with Afghanistan, could not have done anything. The other country, in a much better position to assist, was Iran. They had Bandar Abbas, a large port, and a motorway right up to the Afghan border. But they lacked one thing - a cowardly ruler. The US did not dare to threaten Iran or use that country to attack and destroy Afghanistan. But the US knew Musharraf would comply. He not only agreed to all their demands, but gave them even more than they asked for.
Even his closest colleagues in the army did not know what was going on and he did not consult the air and naval chiefs either. American documents reveal this and the fact that they hated him for selling our sovereignty and national interests. The person who was considered a usurper, a dictator, a pariah, suddenly became America's 'darling' for selling our national interests.
We all saw his real face when he made excuses, claiming to be severely sick, every time a court ordered him to appear before it. The claim that treatment for back pain was not available in the country does not ring true. I was operated upon for near paralysis by Prof Dr Khaliq uz Zaman and his wife, Prof Dr Samina Khaliq, both topnotch neurosurgeons, and am once again walking normally and living a full life. My dear friend, Admiral Saeed Muhammad Khan, was operated upon at Aga Khan Hospital in Karachi for a back problem and recovered well. Neither Admiral Saeed Khan nor I asked the government to send us abroad for treatment. We know that Musharraf's claim is a lie.
Our G T Road General has promised to return after treatment. I have serious doubts. Did Hussain Haqqani return after making a similar promise? Only martial law can bring Musharraf back and that won't happen again. Before leaving the country he claimed to be practically at death's door, but we all saw him climbing the steps of the plane, walking and smoking as if he didn't have a care in the world. The next day, despite his serious ' condition', he was presiding over a meeting of his political party. With due respect, I beg to submit that the judiciary did not play its role well. They have wide powers and could easily have declared his bungalow a sub-jail, heard the case and passed judgement. If convicted, it would have been up to the PM and the president to decide whether he should be pardoned or not. He has been allowed to walk away; and none of those who previously talked big on the issue protested. The interior minister now says Musharraf did not give any guarantee to return if required to do so by court. The whole episode leaves us with a bad taste in our mouths. I knew Musharraf when he was corps commander Mangla. I used to receive senior Malaysian officers who came to Pakistan in connection with assistance to Bosnian Muslims. One Gen Ismael once told me that he knew Musharraf as they had been together during training in
England. He asked if he could meet him and I invited Musharraf to have dinner with us. I also invited him, as a courtesy, when we launched 'Ghauri' on April 6, 1998 because the Tilla Range was in his area. He was hesitant to accept as he had not been invited by Gen Jehangir Karamat and Gen Zulfiqar Ali Khan, DG Weapons and Equipment, attached with the CGS/COAS, who was helping us with strategic support. Those invited sat on top of a small building about 200 metres from the launching pad.
Musharraf was clearly not sober and I made known my displeasure by telling him that this was an auspicious occasion and that his behaviour was most inappropriate. I guess he never forgot that snub and I was to pay for it later. I can narrate many instances of unfounded accusations and personal vindictiveness.
Musharraf hosted a farewell dinner for Dr Ishfaq (retiring at the same time) and me. In his farewell speech he eulogised my services in superlative terms, but those words were soon forgotten when he went all-out, once again to please his American 'masters', to character assassinate me by all means available.