The Lahore High Court has issued notice to the Defence Ministry for October 16 on a petition filed by former army chief Ziauddin seeking a declaration that his removal as part of former dictator Pervez Musharraf’s coup in October 1999 was illegal.
The petitioner has also asked the court to order the government to return his properties which were seized after his arrest and to issues him pension and retirement benefits.
The petitioner submitted that on October 12, 1999, he was appointed chief of army staff by then president Rafique Tarar on the recommendations of then prime minister Nawaz Sharif. But soon after, he said, he and Sharif were surrounded at Prime Minister’s House by troops of the 111 Brigade.
Lt Gen (r) Mehmud Ahmed and Major Genral Ali Jan Aurakzai “threatened us at gunpoint” demanding that they both resign, he said, but Sharif refused and the two of them were arrested.
The petitioner said that he was put in solitary confinement for two years. During this period, he was dismissed from service, his properties were seized and his right to a pension was denied. His cardiac condition also worsened and he lost 75 pounds, he said.
He said that his only crime was to have been appointed to a constitutional post by the president of the country. Referring to Gen (r) Musharraf, he said that “the usurper (now a jail bird), oblivious to the rule of law, justice and fair play, proved a tyrant and inflicted all possible punishments [on me] in an utter violation of fundamental rights without issuing show cause notices”.
He said that he was released on August 2, 2001, and handed a handwritten note, on a piece of paper from a brigade major’s notepad, stating that he had been dismissed from service with effect from that date. He said that the note had not been signed and did not mention which authority had passed the order and why.
The petitioner said that apart from his agricultural land, in which he had invested heavily, and other property, his wife’s properties were also seized. He said that he had appealed to the chief of army staff, but not received any response. His right to a pension had also been denied without him being given a chance to defend himself. He said that he was illegally removed from the post of army chief. He asked the court to declare his removal as illegal and to reverse all the penalties imposed on him since. He demanded that he be returned his properties and be granted retirement benefits due to a four-star general.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 25th, 2013.
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