Dr. Rajkumar Singh On October 12, 1999, in a bloodless coup the Pakistan Army once again ousted the civilian government. On that very day Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, had sacked General Pervez Musharraf and appointed his crony General Ziauddin Butt as his successor which was refused by the senior generals who did not gave charge to Ziauddin. As Musharraf was out of the country and his way back from Sri Lanka he could not have done any thing to save himself. Once Musharraf landed, he dismissed the Government of Nawaz Sharif immediately, dissolved Parliament and suspended the constitution. A transitional government headed by the General, including a cabinet and a National Security Council was established. With this development another chapter of military rule was opened in Pakistan – a country that has been ruled by unelected governments for 25 of its 52 year history. Wide reactions of the takeover Countries of the world including India and the US have expressed their reactions over the military takeover in Pakistan. New Delhi expressed grave concern at the sudden turn of events in Pakistan and placed its armed forces in a state of full alert. The analysts in India viewed the latest political military turmoil as an extension of the consequences brought upon that country by the Kargil misadventure. J. N. Dixit, the former Foreign Secretary had described the situation as extraordinarily volatile. Another analyst considered it a complex and unfortunate situation which is not conducive to normalisation of relations in South Asia. From Washington the senior officials of Clinton Administration had sent a message to the Pakistan Army through diplomatic channels that the US does not support any military takeover anywhere, that the constitution has to be respected and it would be not right to presume it would be business as usual after a democratically elected government is overthrown. Among others the Commonwealth moved swiftly to suspend Pakistan and the European Union has been tougher than the US in demanding the restoration of democracy. The UN Secretary General had deplored it, and the International Monetary Fund director had declared that loans to Pakistan will be suspended until democracy is restored. But genuinely speaking these measures meant only a moral sermon as it did not involve sanction or trade bars in regard to Pakistan. In general military coups are not fashionable in the post-cold war era as the world community’s revulsion towards coups is now unequivocal. Reactions inside the country Unlike the negative response of the coup world over the dismissal of Nawaz Sharif’s government seemed to be welcomed by several quarters in the country. Under the cover of a crushing two-thirds majority Nawaz Sharif had tended to accumulate power for himself by molesting institutions, rules and conventions. The people had a feeling of relief at the end of his 31 months of chaotic rule. Almost all the political parties welcomed the military intervention. Benazir Bhutto, the exiled opposition leader, accused Sharif of antagonizing and provoking the military against his own government and in an interview with Sky TV she reported to have said that ‘The people believe that that man is violating every rule of law and there is no one to stop him. The armed forces had to protect themselves as an institution. However, as an exception to the general welcome the right wing fundamentalist Party Jammat-i-Islami in a statement issued on October 15, 1999, while urging the armed forces to give priority to making corrupt rulers accountable, criticized Musharraf’s decision to declare a state of emergency and stated that it could not support the martial law and the suspension of fundamental rights. Like other military rulers of the past General Musharraf promised to clean up Pakistan’s corrupt elite, rebuild national confidence and morale, revive the economy, strengthening the crumbling bonds between the four provinces that make up the country, and cleanse institutions to install ‘real democracy’ before the army relinquishes power. Similar to the first military regime of Ayub Khan, Musharraf kept army personnel in the background and ran the administration through civilian institutions and officials, described as the ‘civil-military combine’ by the military rulers. The military rulers establish monitoring cells at different levels to oversee and supervise the working of the civilian institutions. In a calculated way the new ruler tried to introduce guided democracy as he needed to introduce civilian rule to get Western sanctions off his back. Accordingly he planned to make the district the country’s basic ‘governance and development unit. He was of the view that these local bodies would provide the country with a strong, grassroots level democratic foundation. Musharraf believed that Pakistan’s face can be turned and the country can be made to walk in the right direction – and he is the man to do it. Game plan of the new ruler In the circumstances India needed to know what destination the general had in mind for New Delhi. The spectre of the Kargil war of the summer of 1999 haunted Indian policy towards Pakistan and resulted in an uncertain policy of diplomatic non-engagement between nuclearised neighbours. The new ruler of Pakistan continued its anti-India policy and once again asserted that his country is committed to providing all diplomatic, moral and political support to the people of Kashmir in their ‘just struggle for self-determination. Musharraf’s India policy was underpinned by a military stance. There has been a qualitative and quantitative increase in Pakistani subversive violence against India and its military activities across the Line of Control. It gave birth to military camps and establishments, terrorist violence against civilian targets and infiltration of terrorists and weapons into India. The general’s approach towards Kashmir is that it has to be settled on Pakistani terms and conditions, otherwise proxy war and terrorism will be continued by him. He considers confidence building measures as a farce. He wants discussions on Kashmir denovo. The policy approach of Islamabad’s new ruler was also confirmed by Jaswant Singh, then Minister for External Affairs, in a written reply to Lok Sabha, ‘The military coup in Pakistan has not altered its aggressive and hostile policies and propaganda towards India.He quoted statements by Pakistani spokesmen after the military coup that indicate Pakistan’s assertions of territorial claims in Jammu and Kashmir, he, however, assured the House that New Delhi was closely monitoring the situation and would take all necessary steps to safeguard India’s security.
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