Musharraf’s Dictatorship, Ep 2: Musharraf cabinet, breakup of PML-N and formation of ARD
On November 16, 2000, Musharraf established NAB for accountability. Later, this institution was used to ‘dry-clean’ politicians.
Musharraf wrote in his book, “I established NAB to instill fear of God in the hearts of the mighty and the rich.” Special NAB Ordinance was promulgated to impart it maximum autonomy and freedom.
Country will go bankrupt if NAB is not stopped
Incidentally, as General Shahid Aziz wrote: “National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was established to curb corruption, and a stringent ordinance was promulgated. In the beginning, NAB performance was very speedy. Billions of rupees were recovered.
After sometime, the chips were down and Shaukat Aziz’s office began to fret, saying that capital is flying out of the country, and if NAB is not stopped, country will go bankrupt. Don’t question the investors about the money trails. People are scared of taking decisions. Government can’t perform in the wake of such circumstances. Its function will cease, economy will sink and people will suffer a loss. Chairman NAB, General Amjad, was removed; and all heaved a sigh of relief.”
‘Shaukat Aziz was chosen because of his middle-class background like mine’
In his book, Pervez Musharraf writes about pilot cabinet of his government, “To include people in our Cabinet, we set the standard of good-will and altruism. I formed a committee comprising of army officers, and then three members were enlisted for each ministry.”
He further writes: “I personally interviewed all the shortlisted individuals. Finance Ministry was the most important one. And I chose Shaukat Aziz to head it. It is because he, like me, had middle-class background.”
‘Interview was a formality; the choice was already made.’
General Shahid Aziz was included in Musharraf’s committee. He wrote about it, “Interviews for the Cabinet were a funny circus. Suddenly the phone rang out, calling a person in. General Ihsan would be present in General Aziz’s office. He briefed about the people called for interviews. Then questions were just a formality. On my questioning about the criterion of the selection, I was told that it was a long list, and after picking different names from different places, General Ihsan would get information about them. Then some of them were shortlisted for interview. But it was just a formality. It seemed the choice was made, only to have a glance on the face, or it was just a form-filling activity was left. The persons who were to see economy and monetary institutions were already selected. We were told that Shaukat Aziz would come but he wouldn’t be interviewed. Petroleum Minister was also chosen. But all of them were called in. Other critical positions were of Interior Minister, Foreign Minister and Foreign Office staff. Their selection was also made beyond the formality of interviews. Anyhow, all except Shaukat Aziz underwent this formality.”
Chaudhary Shujaat got trapped somewhere and never came back
In March 2000, PML-N was divided into two factions. One faction, under the leadership of Raja Zafarul Haq, challenged Musharraf regime, while the other faction, under the leadership of Ijazul Haq and Mian Azhar, wanted to leave Nawaz Sharif at his own. The party was splintered after Musharraf’s taking up office but when Nawaz Sharif was tried in the court, this rift became conspicuous. Pro-Musharraf faction of Muslim League (like-minded) was made. It later changed its name to Pakistan Muslim League – Quaid (PML-Q). Its first leader was Mian Azhar. On November 20, 2000 armed activists of Muslim League (Like-Minded) attacked Muslim League House in Islamabad and captured it. During that attack, the police, instead of checking the raiders, kept PML-N activists from going that way. On that day, a meeting of PML-N leaders was scheduled. They were to decide if they should join anti-Musharraf alliance or not. After the attack, the proposed meeting was shifted to Bagum Kalsoom Nawaz’s house. It was decided that they should join the alliance. The membership of Chaudhary Shujaat, Mian Azhar and Ijazul Haq was terminated. According to Javed Hashmi, “All of us kept on waiting for Chaudhary Shujaat for hours, but he was trapped in such a vicious circle from where he is yet to come out. Our all offices, with the exception of KP, were usurped with official muscle power.”
Government was rattled
On December 3, political parties met at the house of Zafar Ali Shah, and ARD was launched. According to Javed Hashmi, “All political parties met at Zafar Ali Shah’s house, ARD was launched and Islamabad Declaration was issued. With this declaration, all political parties announced to seek pardon from the nation and one-point agenda for the restoration of 1973 constitution was agreed upon. ARD inception rattled the government.”
Formation of PML-Q
Musharraf Government introduced National Reconstruction Bureau which laid down the structure of local government system. Local Government elections were held in December 2000. These elections were conducted on non-party bases to dilute the influence of traditional parties. Muslim League (like-minded) changed its name to PML-Q.
(To be continued)