By Dr. S.M. Rahman

It was interesting to read General Aslam Beg’s article titled “Say No To It”. In very simple words he has described the conduct of the Army Generals, who imposed military rule; those who directly intervened, but did not take-over, and those, who resisted the temptation to intervene and allowed democracy to follow its due course. In this context, he has described, “intervention by deceit” by ACM Asghar Khan, in 1977 encouraging and abetting military take over by General Ziaul Haq. He has mentioned my article titled “National Propensity to Rise in Crisis”, published in daily Nation on 21 October 2005. Confirming the fact that, I was witness to the letter, ACM Asghar Khan had written to General Zia to remove Bhutto and take-over the reigns of the government, I would like to elaborate.

I was serving as Advisor to COAS in Psychological Operations Directorate and I take special pride in the creation of the Psychological Operations Directorate, sequel to the loss of East Pakistan – a beautiful part of our country. Indian pernicious propaganda without any rebuttal from our end finally culminated into the unfortunate surrender of our Army at Dacca in December 1971. Had the then Army Chief listened to the counsel of Sahibzada Yaqoob Khan, a very perceptive strategic thinker, “not to take Army action and resolve the East Pakistan crisis through political means”, the history of the country would have been much different. On the contrary in 1977, ACM Asghar Khan, gave a very vicious advice to Ziaul Haq for military intervention, which was not at all necessary, as the political solution was very much in the offing.

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When the PNA movement had started, the initial response of Gen Ziaul Haq was to fully support the Prime Minister Z.A. Bhutto. He very categorically told me: "There was no rigging in the elections" and that he was a witness to it. A command communication was also issued on behalf of the Supreme Commanders of the three services, highlighting the constitutional role of the armed forces for supporting the Govt in power (issued from our Directorate). But after some time, Gen Zia denied that there was any rigging, because skeptic of his so called "religiosity", as I knew that he had something different in his mind. He tasked me to analyse the anonymous letters, he was receiving in hundreds. These letters contained some obnoxious and obscene words and I used to simply put dotted lines saying some dirty words were used against the Army Chief. He told me not to be shy and apprise him of the exact words being used. I complied to his direction.

Why did he ask me to do so? I thought he was looking for some ‘psychological crutch’ to change his mind from his initial stand of support to Bhutto to finally take action against him. In this respect, the most significant factor which impelled him to impose Martial Law was the letter, Air Marshal Asghar wrote to him. He had read out portions of the letter to me in which the former Air Chief had warned him, that in the event he did not remove Bhutto's Government, the nation would not forgive him, or words to that effect.

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Asghar Khan's letter was the talk of GHQ and its copies were also distributed in the Formations. Gen. Hamid Gul in the recent T.V. Programme "Meray Mutabiq (28th April 2012), had specifically mentioned about this letter. I think it was a great killer of our political propriety and grace. One may also recall the notorious statement of the then Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger who had threatened Bhutto that “he would be made a horrible example”, if he did not comply, particularly on the nuclear programme. Was there any link between the two? – the letter to Gen. Zia and Kissinger's warning, is any body's guess. During the PNA movement there was a huge influx of US Dollars in the market. These could not be stray events.

Some major developments occurred in the 1st few days of July 1977, when army launched the operation, ironically termed "Operation Fair Play." Recalling the operation, I had brought to light in my article "The Tragedy That Was 5Th of July," published in the Daily Nation on 23rd July 2008. What happened after that is part of history and well-known to the people of Pakistan. It is so ridiculous for ACM Asghar Khan to drag General Aslam Beg in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, for the last sixteen years, trying to cover-up his own shame and guilt, behind the fasade of cooked-up evidence, which betrays the conspiracy by the PPP government, so clearly evident. I will quote only one example:

Lt Gen Asad Durrani was appointed Ambassador in Germany by the PPP government in 1994. Mr. Rehman Malik visited Germany and asked Ambassador Durrani to submit the details of the funds allegedly distributed amongst the politicians in 1990. General Durrani obliged and gave him a hand written manuscript, confessional statement “for the PM eyes only”. According to this manuscript General Durrani had stated that:

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“The operation not only had the blessings of the President and the whole-hearted support of the Prime Minister, but was also in the knowledge of the military high command. What is the object of this exercise? If it is to target the opposition, it might be their legitimate right to take donations. If the idea is to put Gen Beg on the mat, he was merely providing ‘logistic support, (to) donations made by a community under instructions from the government.”

But the truth as stated by Gen Durrani was distorted in the typed affidavit, presented by Mr. Rehman Malik, a month later and got it signed by Lt Gen Durrani, completely changed the meaning of his above statement, in the confessional statement:

“In September 1990, as DGISI, I received instructions from the then COAS, General Aslam Beg, to provide ‘logistic support’ to the disbursement of donations made by some businessmen of Karachi to the election campaign of IJI. I was told that the operation had the blessing of the government.”

Truth is what General Durrani spoke in his above confessional statement, and “truth shall prevail, Insha Allah” in the judgment of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, to come.