Or is Hamid Mir just being Hamid Mir? Anyway, it would be an interesting move by Kayani – it would be a good way for him to complete the rehabilitation of the army in the public eye by dissociating the institution from the actions of Musharraf and his cronies.
Here’s one thing I was thinking about today – is Aslam Beg the best person to compare General Kayani to? Aslam Beg conducted Zarb-e-Momin during BB’s first term, General Kayani has just conducted Azm-e-Nau 3. Both had the task of rehabilitating the army’s public image after some damaging years; a weak and pliable civilian government; and to a certain extent a reputation for ‘staying out of politics’. Aslam Beg established his democratic credentials by allowing the 1988 elections to continue and Kayani by stepping in to ensure the restoration of the Chief Justice. And if Hamid Mir is right and Musharraf tried having Kayani removed in April 2008, then both Aslam Beg and Kayani have another thing in common and that is bad relations with their predecessor. (it’s often been speculated that Aslam Beg’s pro-Iran tilt could have motivated him to do away with Zia – Ijaz ul Haq has accused him of killing his father).
By comparing Kayani to Aslam Beg one comes to the interesting conclusion that both Zia and Musharraf were done away with when the usefulness of their particular geo-political focus outlived its function to the army as an institution. In both cases, the event that precipitated the downfall of the rulers was the changing politics resulting from the end of the Afghan war. Zia’s closeness to Saudi Arabia became a liability as did Musharraf’s closeness to the US (who is still writing WSJ op-eds about a phased withdrawal being a bad idea).
What’s interesting to me is that this changing internal dynamic within the military is so rarely discussed. The end of Musharraf’s rule has always been discussed as 1) the consequence of a popular “people’s” movement and 2) the result of bungled US pressure on the Musharraf regime. Here’s what I think, though – the “people” and the US are secondary to what the army wants the army to do. I guess that’s a testament to the army’s absolute supremacy in Pakistan. Even in the case of Nadeem Ijaz Ahmed – nothing and no one can make Kayani act against him except his own self-interest.
By Hamid Mir
ISLAMABAD: For the first time in the history of Pakistan, political leaders from the Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have united against a serving Army officer. They want the government to start investigations against the said Army officer not only on one count but also on many others.
The dubious role of former DG Military Intelligence Major General Nadeem Ejaz was an important unifying factor behind a large consensus between the PPP, the PML-N, the PML-Q and other parties on the 18th Amendment. Nadeem Ejaz was responsible of victimising not only the PPP and the PML-N but also abused his unlimited and unchecked powers against some important leaders of the PML-Q as the DG MI. At one stage in April 2008, he wanted Musharraf to replace General Kayani because Kayani was not ready to involve the Army in safeguarding the political interests of Musharraf but this effort failed.
The former DG MI is accused of kidnapping many political activists not only in Balochistan but also in the Punjab. Nadeem Ejaz once kidnapped not only the security guards of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain but also picked up the brother of a sitting MPA of the PML-Q for settling his personal scores with the then chief minister of the Punjab. Background interactions with leaders of these political parties revealed that notorious Nadeem Ejaz had become a monster in the last days of the Musharraf regime and even after the retirement of Musharraf as Army chief, Nadeem Ejaz was directly reporting to him bypassing new Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
A UN Commission has recently claimed that after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto on December 27, 2007, the crime scene was hosed down actually on the orders of the then DG MI Major General Nadeem Ejaz. The government has constituted a three-member committee to pinpoint the responsibility for hosing down the crime scene on December 27, 2007. Political circles in Islamabad are of the view that the role of Nadeem Ejaz was not limited just in the hosing down the crime scene on December 27. He should be investigated thoroughly because he was directly or indirectly related to many other important events like the assassination of Akbar Bugti in August 2006 and massacre in Karachi on May 12, 2007.
Very few people know that Nadeem Ejaz started his political role in December 1999 when he was a colonel posted in Lahore. He forced many Nawaz Sharif loyalists to leave the PML-N. He blackmailed many PPP leaders to extend their support to the Musharraf regime. A businessman associated with the PPP, Mian Arshad, was grilled and tortured to give information about the secret accounts of Jahangir Badar. Nadeem Ejaz called Mian Arshad many times and asked him to cooperate. When there was no positive result, Main Arshad was arrested and tortured. Late Benazir Bhutto tried her level best to rescue Mian Arshad by writing letters to human rights organisations but Mian Arshad lost his life due to torture in the custody of Army officials.
Nadeem Ejaz personally met PML-N leader Khawaja Saad Rafique in December 1999 and told him to leave Nawaz Sharif. After exchanging hot words with Saad, he contacted his brother Salman Rafique and gave him a warning. When Rafique brothers refused to oblige him, he arrested Saad Rafique along with Javaid Hashmi, Khawaja Hasaan and Aftab Asghar Dar through the Lahore police and ordered that they be tortured. Saad Rafique still remembers that police officials in Model Town police station, Lahore, told him that they were beating him on the orders of Nadeem Ejaz.
One day, Nadeem Ejaz summoned PML-N leader Tehmina Daultana and her late husband Zahid Wahla in camp jail, Lahore, and asked them to stop supporting Begum Kulsoom Nawaz. This meeting was taking place in the office of jail chief. When Javaid Hashmi came back to jail after appearing in an accountability court, he heard Nadeem Ejaz shouting at Tehmina Daultana. Javaid Hashmi was told that this meeting was going on for many hours. He crashed the door of the jail chief’s office and tried to grab Nadeem Ejaz by his neck. According to Javaid Hashmi, “The brave Nadeem Ejaz locked himself in the bathroom of the jail chief and the same night I was blindfolded, my hands were cuffed behind my back and I faced torture for the whole night.”
Another victim of Nadeem Ejaz was Senator Pervez Rashid. This soft-spoken politician was tortured at Sarwar Road police station. Pervez Rashid told this correspondent, “I have no doubt that Nadeem Ejaz was the person behind the worst ever torture I faced in my political life.”
According to police sources, one day Nadeem Ejaz recorded the cries of Pervez Rashid during torture on a small tape recorder and gave lot of money to an Army Subedar as reward who had tortured the senator. Pervez Rashid is sure that Nadeem Ejaz recorded his screams for Musharraf.
For the next few years, he remained posted in Lahore and was promoted as a brigadier there. He became DG of MI in February 2005. He was given the task to win the local bodies elections for the Musharraf loyalists. During the local bodies election of 2005, he developed differences with CM Punjab Pervaiz Elahi. Nadeem Ejaz was supporting Sardar Aqil Umar in one town of Lahore while Pervaiz Elahi was supporting Sardar Kamil Umar. Ultimately, Kamil Umar won the election and Nadeem Ejaz became an enemy of the CM Punjab. One day, the MI kidnapped the real brother of MPA Ilyas Gujar from Kasur, who was very close to Pervez Elahi. Brother of the MPA was released after five days when CM Punjab directly approached Pervez Musharraf for help. That was not the end. After a few days, the MI kidnapped the security guards of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain when they were coming back from the Lahore Airport after dropping Salik Hussain and Moonis Elahi. A military vehicle collided with the jeep of Salik Hussain, who was not present inside. Some of the guards were arrested and tortured. CM Punjab called Nadeem Ejaz and requested to release his people but there was no mercy. Nadeem Ejaz refused to release them and said that they were gangsters and CM’s son Moonis Elahi was the leader of these gangsters. Again it was Musharraf who ordered Nadeem Ejaz to release the security guards of Shujaat.
Nadeem Ejaz developed more differences with Shujaat Hussain when PML-Q leaders tried to make peace with late Nawab Akbar Bugti in 2006 through talks. Many PML-Q leaders have told this correspondent that at the first stage, Nadeem Ejaz used them for easing down the tension but when Bugtis vacated some important trenches around Dera Bugti after talks, Nadeem Ejaz started bombing the area and forced Bugti to take refuge on mountains. They held Nadeem Ejaz responsible for the death of Akbar Bugti and said that they were even ready to provide evidence in any court of law against Nadeem Ejaz.
He was the one who advised Musharraf to call Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry to the Army House and demand his resignation. When Justice Iftikhar refused, it was Nadeem Ejaz who pressured him directly. The same evening when Chaudhry Shujaat met Justice Iftikhar and tried to settle down the problem, it was Nadeem Ejaz who sent lifters to the residence of the CJP and moved his official vehicles away from the house. On the morning of March 12, Nadeem Ejaz ordered the Islamabad administration that Justice Iftikhar should not reach the Supreme Court. When the CJP came out of his residence, he was manhandled by officials in plainclothes.
PML-Q leaders are also ready to say that a plan was hatched to park big vehicles to stop the convoy of Justice Iftikhar and then attack the convoy on May 5, 2007 near Kharian on the GT Road. Nadeem Ejaz wanted the Chaudhrys of Punjab to provide some mercenaries to start firing on the vehicle of Aitzaz Ahsan to show their loyalty to Musharraf. Again, the CM Punjab refused to become a part of the plan.
This plan was implemented by Nadeem Ejaz in Karachi on May 12, 2007. According to sources in the MQM, Nadeem Ejaz used the whole provincial administration of Sindh to implement the plan in Karachi and finally MQM was held responsible for the whole mayhem.
Major General Nadeem Ejaz also submitted an affidavit against Justice Iftikhar in the court and claimed that the chief justice wanted Musharraf to dissolve the assemblies and hold elections under him. This affidavit proved to be a lie in the court. After the imposition of emergency on November 3, 2007, Nadeem Ejaz was the one who was directly and indirectly meeting with many judges of the superior courts and convinced many of them to accept Abdul Hameed Dogar as the new chief justice. Some of the “Dogar Judges” are now part of the Supreme Court and they may have a soft corner for Nadeem Ejaz.
Ejaz was also involved in media affairs. He helped in arranging funds and investors in the launching of at least two pro-Musharraf TV channels in 2007. He threatened and blackmailed many journalists through different means and tortured some of them after getting them kidnapped.
Many Baloch leaders alleged that Nadeem Ejaz was responsible for rigging the 2008 elections in many constituencies of Balochistan. They say that he did it directly on the orders of Musharraf and not Kayani. Sources in the military establishment claimed that Kayani fired at least three colonels from the ISI who were trying to help some politicians during the elections 2008 but the MI chief clearly violated his policy. It is important to note that Kayani became Army chief on November 29th, 2007 just a few weeks before the election and it was difficult for him to immediately change the DG MI.
It was also learnt on good authority that Nadeem Ejaz suggested to Musharraf secretly in April 2008 to replace Kayani with someone else. Musharraf discussed this possibility with some of his close aides but could not implement it because DG ISI Nadeem Taj was not ready to help him. The UN Commission has given a clean chit to DG ISI Lt Gen Nadeem Taj and former DG IB Brig (retd) Ejaz Shah. The UN Commission directly interviewed Ejaz Shah in February 2010 and now Ejaz Shah has also joined the FIA investigations but Nadeem Ejaz has not faced any investigation.
The top leadership of PPP, PML-N and PML-Q is in contact with each other on the investigation issue of Nadeem Ejaz. They want the government to, at least, start another probe against former DG MI in connection with his alleged role in the killing of Akbar Bugti. They think that this is the right opportunity for political leadership to prove that Pakistan has changed and now the Army officers are also accountable like politicians.