I was in the third year of my Engineering. When one of my friends told me the good news that Pakistan has become a Nuclear State . We all felt proud of this achievement. A few days later when sanctions hit Pakistan . I remember how we ended up being in a difficult situation as a nation especially in terms of foreign exchange reserves. I remember it because one of my friends had to arrange money for his gotten admission in the US with much struggle.
Pakistan though became a Nuclear Power but was about to become bankrupt. At the same time Karachi the economic epicenter of Pakistan was ravaged by extra judicial killings by the then government. I still remember that in those days. When we were not sure if we would return to home alive or not as being from the Urdu Speaking community. There was always a chance of one getting arrested for your ethnical background. But still life went on. Then in my last year. Kargil War broke out. Strategically it was a great move. I have grown up with the news of skirmishes at the Siachen all my life. We learnt for the first time that due to the covert action Pakistan for the first time after 1984 has been able to achieve a significant advantage over the Indian Army. Basically, what we learnt as civilians as media was not very liberal at that time. Our forces out maneuvered Indian Army and captured sensitive positions before they could reach those. War drums were beating. But as a nation I could feel that sense of pride amongst the common Pakistanis who still remembered what happened in 1971 at the hands of the Indian Army where almost 90,000 Pakistanis inclusive of approx. 45,000 Pakistani soldiers surrendered. Again due to Political failures.
For the first time in decades. Common Pakistanis saw some salvation. Bankrupt nation which became a Nuclear power only in retaliation to their neighbors a year ago. Saw having a tactical advantage over its arch rivals. The motivation was very high. But then what transpired in the next few months was heart wrenching. Pakistan and the new generation must know that what happened in the next few months was totally demoralizing and made me hate our political governments in the power who were playing musical chairs with the nation in less than 10 years beginning 1988. Forget the corruption they unleashed on Pakistan mainly in the form of PPP and the absolute dream of a political dictatorship under PMLN . And being a Karachiite . Saw over 15,000 of our young men die at the hands of ethnic violence or extra judicial killings. Now on top the actions of the same lot was about to make our nation looked down upon.
I cannot still forget the clip where I saw both Nawaz Sharif and his finance Minister Sartaj Aziz bowing their heads infront of President Clinton when called to Washington to be handed over a threat of the consequences on this tactical advantage Pakistan gained. Till that time Pakistan was an out cast and the PMLN government on the back foot due to lobbying by PPP’s Benazir Bhutto to block Pakistan ’s aid after being overthrown were struggling with finances. This was their opportunity in my eyes to have solutions to all their problems and in return they would get dollars and US support and flexing on the sanctions on Pakistan .
Pakistani forces which were holding the Indian Army by the throat so much so IAF’s aircrafts were shot down, highways were blocked, thousands of Indian Army soldiers were held to alert by a few hundred Pakistani troops. I could remember the clipping of Indian Canons helplessly bombarding the mountains to kill one sniper or two. I remember IAF spending hundreds of thousands worth of ammo to kill one soldier or two. The strategic mission was not only costing the enemy by life and limb but also at the same time monetarily and psychologically. The later produced movie Kargil by Indians after all their effort to boast their image showed the agony they went through.
Suddenly on return of Nawaz Sharif from US . We found out that our forces are being retreated, supplies have been cut down, in return casualties went up. Some say they were more than put together in the wars of 1965 and 1971 due to the reversal in support of our boys. Few months later that is in August when Indians shot down a Pakistan Navy reconnaissance aircraft killing 18 of our troops. Our Army was again told to shut up and not to react whilst the attack occurred well in the Pakistan territory and Indian Prime Minister was seen with the wreckage making a robust speech. Few months before Kargil when Indian PM visited Pakistan through Wagah border. It was Pervez Musharraf who refused to salute him whilst our politicians hugged and kissed them.
Well Nawaz may claim that he had no prior knowledge of the attack which is a little less to digest as either he was a nincompoop that his army is about to unleash a battle and he was unaware, or naïve that he failed to understand the briefing as he must be concentrating on the delicious Pak Army chicken patties and cakes whilst being briefed at GHQ or a liar in the face of the challenge. In either ways; he could have mustered up courage and could have found a better way to retreat if at all was required but I am sure the dollars, the support and the flexing of the sanctions reigned supreme.
So the psychological advantage or the motivational booster which our Army or Gen Pervez Musharraf gave was nullified by a political dictator. Sometimes I wonder he claims of taking back Kashmir . How does he plan to do that ? Over a plate of Phajje ke Paya deal with India ? Anyways , the nation was already fed up . Talibans were gaining ground without check in Afghanistan . Al Badar and Al Shams likes were roaming around in Karachi scot free. Economy was in shambles. Than our luck smiled on us. He tried to divert the plane carrying General Pervez Musharraf from Srilanka to Karachi to some say India . A country already licking the wounds inflicted by the Army Chief. The Army reacted to this act of Nawaz Sharif who in the meanwhile whilst Pervez Musharraf was in the air appointed a new chief i.e. Gen Ziauddin. The rest is history. How Army foiled the attack and took over the PM house whilst Gen Pervez Musharraf was still in the air or barely out of the airport.
I remember some one belonging to PMLN once telling me that Mian Sharif (father of Nawaz Sharif) advised on Gen Musharraf instead of Gen Ali Quli Khan (pro PPP some say) that appoint an Urdu Speaking General because he would have less loyalty in the ranks and the individual would be so overwhelmed by the title that he would get no time to conspire against their government. I think the assessment went wrong. The army stood up for the chief when the time came.
I feel they would do so again if required. As again its not a trial of just President Gen Pervez Musharraf . As Zardari said “Billa” in his speech and referred to many in the history. It’s a trial of the position. Even Nawaz Sharif wants to set an example for the future Army Chiefs using Pervez Musharraf as an example as he cant pull one on Gen Zia the former being a non son of the soil and alive and in his view vulnerable.
Our politicians instead of correcting the issues of the people like before Oct 12th 1999 are focusing more on how they can be checked. Ironic but true. I wonder if imposing Emergency is such a big sin than Zulfiqar Bhutto the so called Baba e Democracy was the first CMLA in the history of the country post 1973 constitution. I wonder why do we even have the provision for the same at the first place in the constitution. Why after so many constitutional amendments this provision has not been taken out in the first place?
The reason I had to summarize the above history as many of us of that generation would have forgotten the prelude to Oct 12th 1999 as many of us distributed sweets when the PMLN government was thrown away and the step recognized by the likes of Benazir Bhutto and Imran Khan. But also some of those who were toddlers or two young at that time should know what led to that day. What made the Army to interfere when less than a Billion dollars were left in your foreign exchange? They must know and understand and judge as Pakistanis that the reaction which came from the Army at that time was in the best interest of the nation. Would they have felt proud if their history showed that in the midst of the internal differences. PM Sharif got his Army Chief landed in India who might have been arrested if not shot down. Whilst the PM was doing it the plane was full of over 200 civilians. Would they have felt proud today of this history in this day and age.
I am sure if we all think as Pakistanis the answer would be a definite No. If the youth of Karachi especially read what happened though independent media was not there at the time but I am sure some research would help. They would realize that years later what they see today is just a prelude to the chain reaction started decades later up to Oct 12th 1999. On that day I celebrated the ouster of the government by our loyal Army who give their lives and limbs for this nation. If they do it again with the same circumstances. I would again celebrate as for me Pakistan comes first. Pakistan Zindabad!