Musharraf reshuffles top Army brass

ISLAMABAD, SEPT. 2. By effecting the first reshuffle of the top Army brass since the military takeover in October last year, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has sought to send out a clear signal that he is his own boss and there is no coterie around him.

The reshuffle, announced four days before the departure of the military ruler to New York, to participate in the millennium session of the U.N. Assembly, is significant on more than one count.

The ostensible reason for the reshuffle was that it was necessary as five generals were due for retirement in the coming weeks.

The explanation had raised eye-brows as Gen. Musharraf himself had gone on record that though his term as the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) was to end in the later half of 2001, he had no intention of packing his bags without accomplishing the agenda he had unveiled at the time of the coup.

Under the reshuffle, Lt. Gen. Muhammad Yusuf Khan, Commander, Strike Corps, Multan, would be the new Chief of General Staff, in place of Lt. Gen. Muhammad Aziz Khan, who has been posted as Corps Commander, Lahore. Lt. Gen. Yusuf Khan had played a crucial role in the coup by refusing to accept the orders of Gen. Khawaja Ziauddin, who had been named as Army Chief in place of Gen. Musharraf by the then Prime Minister, Mr. Nawaz Sharif, hours before he was deposed.

The Chief of General Staff is the second most important post after the Chief of Army Staff. The explanation in military circles was that Lt. Gen. Aziz Khan, posted as Corps Commander, Lahore, had never commanded a Corps division and that the experience would help were he to aspire for the top job.

Replacement of Lt. Gen. Khan has also led to the interpretation that by sending him out of Islamabad, Gen. Musharraf has demonstrated his control and authority.

It is said that Gen. Musharraf has not favoured generals known for their `rabid views.'

Another significant change was the new Chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Lt. Gen. Khalid Maqbool, in place of Lt. Gen. Syed Mohammad Amjad, who has been made Corps Commander, Multan.

The NAB is the `jewel in the crown' of the Government. Constituted with great fan-fare to bring to book corrupt politicians and bureaucrats, the NAB has emerged as a powerful body in the last ten months.

It had launched cases against several prominent citizens in the country and there were allegations of highhandedness and arbitrary functioning against the Bureau.

Business community had represented to the military Government several times that the conduct of the NAB was a major impediment to the creation of a conducive atmosphere to attract foreign investment. Obviously this campaign seems to have had its impact.

Recommended for you