Major General (retd) Anis Bajwa, the ex-chief staff of former military dictator Pervez Musharraf, has admitted that the 1999 military takeover was an “unconstitutional” move.
“Of course, it was unconstitutional,” the former military official told SAMAA TV Monday. However, he said the army would not have taken over, had then prime minister Nawaz Sharif not ordered diversion of Musharraf’s plane.
Bajwa was the vice-chief of general staff at the army headquarters when Musharraf removed Nawaz Sharif as prime minister on October 12, 1999. He was made Musharraf’s chief of staff after the military takeover.
Bajwa said Nawaz Sharif’s government had tried to divert Musharraf’s plane to India.
“We were speaking to the civil aviation on telephone and they were not giving permission to land there,” he said. “They said land your plane in India.
“They diverted the plane,” Musharraf’s former chief of staff said. “They had completely sealed the Karachi airport.”
The members of Sharif’s PML-N say that it’s a lie and no plane was hijacked, the former military official said. He, however, maintained that it was hijacked.
“The [then] chief of general staff and the commander of X corps who were sitting there… they decided that there was no way left but to take over.”
Bajwa said that no deal was imposed on Nawaz Sharif after the takeover and the former premier left the country because he didn’t want to face “any strict punishment”.
Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif and many others were booked in the plane hijacking case. The former prime minister, however, had told a court in March 2000 that his ouster was linked to differences on Kargil crisis.
Nawaz was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in the plane hijacking case. He was released from prison a year later in December 2000 by the Musharraf government. The ex-premier then went into exile in Saudi Arabia.