August 2000 News

Aziz to do a Sharif on Pervez

5 August 2000
The Pioneer
Rahul Dutta

New Delhi: The call for ceasefire in strife torn J&K has stoked dissent in the ruling military junta in Pakistan. The Chief Executive Officer, General Pervez Musharraf is facing a challenge from his Chief. Lt. General Mohammed Aziz who is fast emerging as an alternative power center in the all powerful Pakistan army. A hardliner and fundamentalist to the core, Lt. general Aziz, an Afghan war veteran, is not keen to make peace with India. The Indian Intelligence Agencies believe that General Aziz, who now controls insurgency operations in Kashmir, thereby involving the Pakistani army directly in the proxy war, was the , man who gave the go ahead for the massacres in Kashmir last week. Emboldened by Aziz, the Pakistani army has now pushed aside the ISI and is openly calling the shots in Kashmir through its militants. Its officers now train foreign mercenaries just across the LoC in the Tilla firing range. Corps One and ten of the Pakistani army is actively involved in this task. The ISI comprising more than 80 percent men from the Pak army, was running the Kashmir movement till the army decided to get involved directly. Lt. General Aziz and his clique, including the ISI chief Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed, Lt General H Usmani (5 Corps Karachi) and lt. General Jamshed Gulzar (10 Corps, Rawalpindi) do not want to squander away all the so called gains made by Pakistan during the decadee long bloody proxy war in Kashmir. Morever, Lt Gen Aziz is highly suspicious of the US role and feels the superpower will not back them. he is of the opinion that America ditched Pakistan when its purpose was served in Afghanistan and stopped crucial military aid to Islamabad. Incidentally, Lt Gen Aziz was the key man liaising between the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan during the Afghan war. General Musharraf and Lt. Gen Aziz were very close at one time and planned the kargil intrusions together. Sources say that the two powerful personalities, however are now drifting apart. General Musharraf has reportedly transferred Lt. General Aziz from his present post but the latter refused to obey orders and continues to stay put in his current position. Lt. General Aziz is also the head of military operations and controls the ISI, sources said. He was also elevated to this position by General Musharraf soon after the coup last year. Though Lt. General Aziz has not commanded a corps till now, a mandatory prerequisite for all professional generals, sources said that he has managed to gain the loyalty of the crucial Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi corps commanders. These commanders are more powerful in the Pakistani system of governance. With such a formidable rival, Musharraf is in a dilemma. He is no longer a professional general but executive head of a state. he has to pull out his country from deep financial and economic crisis, build a favourable world opinion, and deliver the goods to the masses at home. Sources say that he no longer controls terrorist groups operating in India. Morever he is also not operations incharge of day to day functioning of the ISI and the insurgent groups hailed in Pakistan as jehadis. General Musharraf is thus riding a tiger. Forced by his armed forces to sup up to the US and agree to mend fences with India to get arms and foreign aid from the superpower, he agreed to show verifiable results as demanded by the US. Agreeing to hold talks with India and a ceasefire, General Musharraf has incurred the wrath of his own men in uniform. Lt. General Aziz has an advantage over his mentor, as far as relations with jehadi groups are concerned. He is close to several such groups, some of which he has personally nurtured.


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