ISLAMABAD: It seems that the military coup of October 12, 1999 came back to haunt the senior-most general, Haroon Aslam, blocking his appointment as the new army chief. He registered his silent protest by not attending the prime minister’s dinner on Wednesday night. Sources claim that the corridors of power were already abuzz with the information that General Haroon had played a key role as Director of Military Operations on October 12, 1999 alongwith the-then DGMO Major General Shahid Aziz to oust Nawaz Sharif from power. Then, Brigadier Haroon led the team to arrest all the cabinet members, including the then Nawaz.
“Yes, Haroon was one of the two directors at the MO Directorate, under my command, who did whatever I ordered him to do on October 12, 1999,” Lt Gen (retd) Shahid Aziz told this correspondent on July 7, 2013. Aziz was then a major general and DGMO who has openly confessed to his role in the last military coup in his recently-published autobiography ‘Yah Khamoshi Kahan Tak’.
However, Shahid had added in the same breath that all the senior generals, including Haroon Aslam, were fit for the slot of the chief of army staff.On the other hand, Lt Gen Haroon had his side of the story that he used to tell his confidants. “What he did was not on his own. He was following the orders of his chain of command.”
Another possible reason Lt Gen Haroon Aslam could not win any slot, according to the sources, is that he was a Special Services Group commando and Nawaz Sharif does not like commandos, particularly after his experience with Gen Pervez Musharraf.
The sources in Islamabad also claim that somebody had already whispered to Nawaz Sharif regarding the background of Lt Gen Haroon Aslam.Yet another reason of Gen Aslam losing the top slot is the opinion of outgoing army chief Gen Kayani who was against the appointment of Haroon on any slot.
The sources also claim that the newly-appointed Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Rashad Mahmood was a full colonel working with the Chief of Staff to the Corps HQ on Oct 12, 1999 in Rawalpindi. However, he did not land in any controversy.
Gen Aslam, as a token of silent protest, did not appear in the dinner hosted in the Prime Minister’s House on late Wednesday night. The sources said that he would be tendering his formal resignation on Thursday to the Defence Ministry and moving to Lahore for finalising his future plans thus not attending the change of command ceremony as well.
But after the news appeared on the media announcing the new chief, Lt Gen Haroon Aslam phoned his junior colleagues Gen Raheel Sharif and Gen Rashad, congratulating and greeting them on their promotions.
The sources claim when a cake cutting ceremony was being held at the Lahore residence of General Raheel Sharif’s sister, Imrana Najfi and the newly-appointed chief was receiving guests and calls greeting him for winning the prized post, Lt Gen Haroon Aslam was receiving guests and calls of sympathy in Rawalpindi.
“Lt Gen Haroon Aslam was visibly down but was honorably receiving all the guests and giving smiles to each of them,” a close aid of Gen Aslam said.It is also pertinent to note that it was Ch Nisar who had played a key role in appointing General Pervez Musharraf as the army chief in 1998. This time he was not visibly active or part of the final deliberations for the appointment of the new chief.
Source: The News