- Special Pages
LAHORE: Pakistan’s retired General Mirza Aslam Beg is not the only army chief to have violated the 1973 Constitution as well as the oath of his office by engineering the 1990 general elections with the help of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to ensure the victory of the Nawaz Sharif-led Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI).
General Pervez Musharraf too had engineered the 2002 general elections in favour of his Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), which was led by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain at that time.
That the 2002 general elections were rigged in favour of the king’s party by the ISI under Musharraf’s instructions had been confirmed by none other than Major General Ehtesham Zameer Jafferi, the former head of the ISI’s political cell who was involved in the whole ‘engineering exercise’.
The ISI has always been accused of being actively involved in managing political activity both inside and outside the government and making or breaking political parties and political alliances for well over the past three decades.
The political cell of the ISI has infiltrated into and manipulated national politics to such an extent that it seems an uphill task for it to revert it to its original mandate and to its basic role of intelligence gathering.
While the ISI has been greatly involved in politics since the 1970s, it was the internal or political wing of the country’s premier intelligence agency that is generally responsible for dealing with political affairs, including manipulation of the general elections.
It was soon after the holding of the 2008 elections that Major General (retd) Ehtesham Zameer Jafferi had confessed to having manipulated the 2002 elections.
In an interview, which was published on February 24, 2008, Ehtesham Zameer, who was the key wheeler and dealer of the ISI during the 2002 polls, came out of the closet and admitted his guilt of manipulating the 2002 elections, while directly blaming General Musharraf for ordering so. Following these elections, the PML-Q formed the government in the centre, led by Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali.
Describing the defeat of the Musharraf-backed PML-Q in the 2008 general elections a reaction of the unnatural dispensation installed in 2002, Ehtesham Zameer admitted in his interview that he was ordered by Musharraf to help the PML-Q to come to power. In fact, the Bhutto-led PPP had won a majority of seats in the National Assembly.
But Musharraf had subsequently tasked the political cell of the ISI to create a split in the PPP and ensure the formation of a forward bloc in the National Assembly.
According to Ehtesham, the ISI, together with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), was instrumental in compelling the PPP lawmakers to join the pro-Musharraf camp to form the government in Islamabad. Resultantly, a 20-member PPP (Patriots), led by Faisal Saleh Hayat, was formed which eventually sided with the PML-Q to form a government.