Zardari ordered army officer to provide security to Musharraf

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

ISLAMABAD - In a move described as unprecedented by experts, President Asif Ali Zardari ordered a senior army officer to provide security to former military dictator Pervez Musharraf during his stay outside the country.

Pakistani Army officer Col Ilyas, who was directed to protect Musharraf, told the News International that he was on attachment to Aiwan-e-Sadar. Zardari, as a courtesy to General Musharraf, ordered Ilyas to serve as his chief security officer.

Musharraf ruled the country for nine year after taking power in a coup in 1999. He stepped down in 2008 and left Pakistan. He now lives in London.

Ilyas said Zardari also appointed four to five other people to serve Musharraf in London.

This is besides the four people given by Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani who allowed this facility to Musharraf as an ex-army chief, Ilyas was quoted as saying.

Four commandos, who have taken retirement, are also serving as Musharraf’s bodyguards.

Ilyas said that besides this security cover to the former president in London, no other regular army officer or of any intelligence outfit has been assigned for this task.

I am with Musharraf not because of Pakistan Army but because of President Zardari, Ilyas said, adding, Ex-president is allowed some staff. No regular army official is allowed and my duty with President Musharraf is simply a courtesy to the ex-president.

I am a regular army officer and taking my salary from Pakistan army. If the army will call me back either I will take retirement or will go back to my job.

Experts said the appointment of so many government employees and army officials including a colonel with Musharraf was unprecedented.

Former president Rafiq Tarar said no army official has been assigned to him as per his protocol as ex-president.

Relatives of ex-president Farooq Leghari, who died recently, also gave the same information.

The Pakistan Army spokesperson didn’t respond despite repeated to contact him.

Former army chief Mirza Aslam Beg said that according to present rules and regulations of Pakistan Army no such protocol is permissible for an ex-army chief whether he is in the country or outside.

Beg disclosed that some years back there was a rule to provide a batman, a personal staff, a driver and an army telephone to an army chief on his retirement.

“However, Benazir Bhutto during her second tenure as the prime minister ordered then army chief Jahangir Karamat to withdraw these facilities from me.

“This rule of providing no facility to an ex-army chief made under the orders of Bhutto is still in force,” said Beg.

Beg said no soldiers or officers of the Pakistan Army could be deputed with an army chief after his retirement even for security purposes and it was completely out of question for such an assignment out of the country according to the existing rules.

Former army chief General Abdul Waheed Kakar too didn’t have any such facility.

His granddaughter said that not a single person has been given to General Kakar as an ex-army chief and all the people working at their home are hired privately.

“There is no driver, no cook or no guard whatsoever given to my grandfather by Pakistan Army,” she said.

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