General Ziauddin Butt: Nawaz Sharif’s “Chief of Army Staff” becomes Shahbaz Sharif’s “Chief Inspector”

This is common knowledge that Sharifs cannot live without Generals. Right from their birth into Pakistani politics (courtesy Geneal Jilani), their ascendance to the Lahore throne (courtesy General Zia) and their premiership of the land of the pure (courtesy General Aslam Beg and General Hamid Gul), they have very shrewdly played their cards in order to be on the right side of the military establishment.

Their latest step in that direction is the employment of General Ziauddin in the Punjab government.

This news was in the offing for at least two years. Here is an excerpt from a news report dated 20 April 2008:

Nawaz to ‘accommodate’ Gen Ziauddin, Maqbool
By Azaz Syed

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif has conveyed a message to former General Ziauddin Butt, the former director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) who was appointed Chief of Army Staff (COAS) by Nawaz triggering the coup by President Pervez Musharraf in 1999, and former Inspector General of Police Rana Maqbool Ahmed, saying they will be ‘accommodated at an opportune time’, a close aide of Nawaz told Daily Times on Saturday.

Ziauddin Butt, who had been appointed by Nawaz as COAS on October 12, 1999, is yet to receive his retirement benefits, as he had been dismissed from service. Rana Maqbool has been an officer on special duty (OSD) since 1999 when Musharraf took over the government.

Source: Daily Times, 20 April 2008

Finally, it has been announced now that Nawaz Sharif’s “Chief of Army Staff” will work as Shahbaz Sharif’s “Chief Inspector” in the Punjab province.

Why is this man notorious?

General Ziauddin Butt, not unlike his patrons, Sharif brothers, is notorious for his corruption, nepotism and subservience to the USA. Here is what Tariq Ali writes about this man:

Sharif’s candidate to succeed Musharraf was General Ziauddin Butt, head of the ISI, who was widely seen as corrupt and incompetent. He was bundled off to Washington for vetting and while there is said to have pledged bin Laden’s head on a platter. If Sharif had just dismissed Musharraf he might have had a better chance of success but what he lacked in good sense his brother tried to make up for in guile. Were the Sharif brothers really so foolish as believe that the army was unaware of their intrigues or were they misled by their belief in US omnipotence? Clinton duly warned the army that Washington would not tolerate a military coup in Pakistan and I remember chuckling at the time that this was a first in US-Pakistan relations. Sharif relied too heavily on Clinton’s warning.

What followed was a tragi-comic episode that is well described in Musharraf’s book. He and his wife were flying back from Sri Lanka on a normal passenger flight when the pilot received instructions not to land. While the plane was still circling over Karachi, Nawaz Sharif summoned General Butt and in front of a TV crew swore him in as the new chief of staff. Meanwhile there was panic on Musharraf’s plane, by now low on fuel. He managed to establish contact with the commander of the Karachi garrison, the army took control of the airport and the plane landed safely. Simultaneously, military units surrounded the prime minister’s house in Islamabad and arrested Nawaz Sharif. General Zia had been assassinated on a military flight; Musharraf took power on board a passenger plane.

Kamran Khan provides a detailed account of how General Ziauddin Butt and Nawaz Sharif played a dirty game by trying to create political divisions in Pakistan Army as well as using the office of the ISI to kidnap and harass journalists (e.g., Najam Sethi) and the removal of democratic government in Sindh.

Ambitious Ziauddin steered Nawaz to political disaster

News Intelligence Unit

By Kamran Khan

ISLAMABAD: Within half an hour of his surreptitious climb to the post of the Chief of Army Staff on Tuesday afternoon, the former Inter-Services Intelligence chief, General Khawaja Ziauddin knew that the Army he was supposed to lead was not prepared to accept his command.

The News Intelligence Unit (NIU) has gathered that all of Ziauddin`s phone calls to the Corps Commanders and the Chief of General Staff — placed from the Prime Minister`s House in Islamabad on Tuesday — drew a blank, a reaction that almost instantly drew down the curtains on former prime minister Nawaz Sharif`s second term in office.

Debriefing sessions with detained aides of the Nawaz Sharif administration by security officials here have disclosed that the former ISI chief-led operation to stage an in-house coup in the Army was driven by his personal ambitions ignoring the actual situation on the ground.

“Even a layman in Pakistan is aware that any operation of this sort can never be completed without the active support of the troops and commanders posted in the cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi,“ an Army official commented.

“It was foolish of the former prime minister not to be aware that his nominee for the Army chief didn`t have the key support of the 10 Corps and more specifically the 111 brigade,“ he added.

It has now become clear that Lt. Gen. Ziauddin was the architect of the secret operation that envisioned the official announcement of his promotion to the post of COAS once Gen Pervez Musharraf boarded PIA Flight PK 805 in Colombo for a journey that severed his contact with the GHQ for a good 200 minutes.

It was also Lt. Gen. Ziauddin who, along with the former principal secretary Saeed Mehdi, had suggested to Nawaz Sharif that General Pervez Musharraf`s plane must not be allowed to land at Karachi so that he could be arrested at any other less busy airports in Sindh.

Sources said that Ziauddin had assured Sharif that he would gain the full command of the Army much before the landing of General Pervez Musharraf`s plane at Karachi airport, a dream that suddenly transformed itself into Sharif and Ziauddin`s worst nightmare.

Officials here believe that because of his family and, more particularly, his father`s old ties with Khawaja Ziauddin`s family, Sharif always wanted to appoint him to the coveted post of the COAS, but he couldn`t do that since he had ignored a senior-most three star general as General Jehangir Karamat`s replacement. Several close aides to Sharif had often conceded in the past that Gen Kuli Khan Khattak was ignored because Sharif was not comfortable with a Pathan general.

Ziauddin, an officer from the Army`s Corps of Engineers, was one course junior to Gen. Ali Kuli Khan and Gen. Pervez Musharraf at the Pakistan Military Academy, but even before Karamat`s dramatic exit from the Army, Ziauddin had told his friends about the likelihood of his replacing Gen. Jehangir Karamat.

Sources said that General Karamat had posted him as the Corps Commander, Gujranwala in response to a personal request from Sharif, who wanted to give him a fair chance at the time of Karamat`s retirement.

Those who had close access to Sharif always contended that his decision to appoint Gen Musharraf was a stopgap arrangement between Gen. Karamat`s abrupt resignation and Ziauddin`s eventual appointment as the COAS. Ziauddin`s appointment as the ISI chief, minutes after Musharraf`s posting as the COAS, spoke volumes of Sharif`s bent of mind at the time.

With the knowledge that doubts deliberately created about Musharraf`s tenure as the COAS would further deteriorate worsening relations between the Army and the former prime minister, Ziauddin using his position as the ISI chief nonetheless invented an intriguing conspiracy theory on the Kargil crisis and helped fuel misinformation that the Army leadership got Sharif trapped by launching the Kargil operation.

During the Kargil crisis, Gen. Ziauddin`s exclusive briefing to the former prime minister almost always contradicted the GHQ`s version. “He was responsible for planting the seeds of intrigue on the Kargil issue in Sharif`s mind,“ according to a reliable official source.

In his rash drive to convince Sharif that Musharraf`s removal as the COAS would ease tension with the Army, Ziauddin is believed to have also encouraged the former Intelligence Bureau chief Colonel (retd) Iqbal Niazi, to invent a variety of Army-backed threatening scenarios for Sharif, who apparently had an unlimited appetite for stories that painted a highly negative picture of Musharraf and the corps commanders considered close to the COAS.

Khawaja Ziauddin`s desperation to please Nawaz Sharif became evident on the first day of his appointment as the ISI chief when he readily confirmed a police-doctored version about the culprits allegedly involved in the ghastly murder of Hakim Mohammad Said.

On Ziauddin`s report, submitted without any independent verification, Sharif got an excuse to knock out the democratic set-up in Sindh, an act that later emerged as part of a well-engineered plot to make way for the installation of an exclusive PML-run unelected administration in Sindh.

An independent Army probe later discovered that the Sindh Police`s version of the Hakim Said case, with a stamp of ISI confirmation from Gen. Ziauddin, was nothing but “a pack of lies.“ Neither Sharif nor Ziauddin, however, ever acknowledged the blunder.

In another desperate attempt to please the former prime minister, Ziauddin ordered the illegal detention of Najam Sethi, the editor Friday Times, for more than two weeks. Despite the Army`s blunt refusal to initiate sedition or treason charges against Sethi, Ziauddin obliged Sharif and Saifur Rahman by keeping Sethi locked up for about 20 days.

Sethi had been handed to Ziauddin`s ISI after being abducted by IB goons from his Lahore residence. Sources said Ziauddin agreed to hold Sethi in illegal detention in response to a single phone call from Saifur Rahman, who later also made Sharif speak to him on the subject.

Reliable sources said that Ziauddin was also behind severe criticism of the Kargil crisis by at least two corps commanders, who later met Sharif in Ziauddin`s presence. These meetings were never reported to the COAS, who later reacted by removing both corps commanders from their posts.

For Sharif, sources said, Ziauddin`s mission was to divide the corps commanders on ethnic and professional lines and to create an anti-Musharraf lobby amongst the corps commanders.

“Since his appointment as the DG ISI, Ziauddin was playing a dangerous game that pitched his boss against the Army,“ observed a senior official. “His operation ultimately turned out to be hara kari (suicide).“

The following are a few recent news reports about General Ziauddin Butt’s appointment in the Shahbaz Sharif’s inspection team.

Sharif’s ‘COAS’ becomes chief inspector
By Tariq Butt

ISLAMABAD: The Sharif brothers have finally appointed the officer they wanted to be as their Chief of the Army Staff in 1999, Gen Ziauddin Butt as the Chairman of the Punjab Chief Minister’s Inspection Team.

A senior official of the Punjab government confirmed the appointment to The News and said that the hassle-free job suits Ziauddin given the condition of his health. Until recently, Ziauddin was the top executive of a Punjab-based construction giant, which had picked him up with the prime objective of getting it out of troubles that it was facing at the hands of the Shahbaz Sharif government, said an informed source.

He said Ziauddin did succeed in resolving the contentious matters of the contractor to some extent but even his assistance could not help totally alleviate its woes, compounded by the death of its owner. A few months back, he quit.

The source said that sole consideration of his appointment, as the top executive of the company was to exploit his influence that he might have over the Punjab government. Ziauddin Butt had held the office of the chief of the army staff hardly for a couple of hours on the eventful day of Oct 12, 1999 when Pervez Musharraf had proclaimed martial law.

The decision of the Nawaz Sharif to dismiss Pervez Musharraf on his way back home from Sri Lanka and appoint Lt-Gen Ziauddin Butt in his place after promoting him as four-star general, had led to the imposition of the military rule.

Since then nothing was ever heard about Ziauddin. He remained under custody of different premier agencies for years with his health continuously failing. Originally hailing from Lahore, he also quietly lived with one of his close relatives in a middle class residential area Islamabad for quite some time when he was faced with the most difficult time of his life.

Enchanted with Ziauddin’s qualities and loyalty during his incumbency as chief of the ISI, Nawaz made him the Army chief on the turbulent day and the military stars were especially arranged from the market, not from the army store, to pin on his shoulders just to establish that he has taken over as the chief commander and the incumbent stood dismissed. These images were then telecast on the state-run television.

Ziauddin remained in touch with the Sharif brothers when they were in Saudi Arabia in exile. They avoided accommodating him in the government as long as Musharraf remained president. This is the first time after eleven years that Ziauddin Butt has got some peaceful and somewhat decent government job.

Source: The News, 14 April 2010

Butt took charge of his office on Monday and his remuneration package is likely to include a huge salary, official residence, a car and a driver,
fuel, telephone, medical and other allowances.

Source: Daily Times, 13 April 2010


The Punjab govt has appointed a Lieutenant General-who gained notoriety for violating the Army’s discipline by towing political line of action-as Chairman Chief Minister’s Inspection Team.
Lieutenant General (Retd) Ziauddin Butt, who has been appointed as Chairman CMIT on contract, is a retired Pakistan Army Engineering officer and the ex-Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). He was later nominated as Chief of the Army Staff in 1999 by the then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after dismissing the then COAS Gen Pervez Musharraf.

The move backfired as Nawaz Sharif govt was removed by the military and Ziauddin sacked and subsequently arrested, and Court-martialled for being part of the ‘conspiracy’.

In 1964, Ziauddin Butt was commissioned in Pakistan Army’s Corps of Engineers – a non-fighting arm. It was part of the reason that Army high command sided with Musharraf in ousting Ziauddin as the Army chief, as since 1947 the slot of the COAS had always belonged to the fighting arm (infantry, armoured corps or artillery).

It has been maintained by the concerned quarters that he was promoted to Lieutenant General on February 25, 1996 and made the commander of Corps at Gujranwala on personal request to General Jehangir Karamat by the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

After serving as the Corps Commander, Gen Ziauddin was posted as the Adjutant General (AG), where he was serving at the time of promotion of General Musharraf to the Army chief in October 1998.

When Lt Generals Ali Kuli Khan and Khalid Nawaz were superseded by Musharraf, Ziauddin moved to number two slot in the seniority list of Lt Gens.

He was subsequently assigned to head the ISI by PM Nawaz Sharif, after replacing Lt Gen Naseem Rana.

A year after taking over ISI, Ziauddin was nominated by Nawaz Sharif to head the Army, while Musharraf was on a foreign trip to Sri Lanka. The Army refused to accept this decision, and overthrew Nawaz Sharif’s govt in the subsequent coup d’Ttat.

Source: The Nation, 14 April 2010


پاکستان میں سابق فوجی جرنیلوں کو مختلف عہدوں پر تعین کرنا کوئی انوکھی بات نہیں ہے تاہم جنرل ضیاء الدین بٹ کی وزیراعلیٰ کی معانیہ ٹیم کا سربراہ کی حیثیت سے تقرری نے اس بحث کو جنم دے دیا ہے کہ آخر اس تقرری کی ضرورت کیا ہے۔

مبصرین کا کہنا ہے کہ پاکستان میں آرمی چیف یا آئی ایس آئی کے سربراہ کا عہدے طاقتور عہدوں میں شمار ہوتا ہے اور اس طرح کے عہدے پر فائز رہنے والے جرنیل کو ایک صوبے کے وزیر اعلیٰ کی معائنہ ٹیم کا سربراہ کا عہدہ سنبھالنا حیران کردینے سے کم نہیں ہے ۔

سیاسی پنڈتوں کا کہنا ہے کہ آنے والے دن ہی اس بات کا فیصلہ کریں گے کہ جنرل ضیاء الدین کو معائنہ ٹیم کا سربراہ مقرر کرکے انہیں نواز گیا ہے یا پھر اس تقرری سے کوئی نیا سیاسی پیغام دینے کی کوشش کی گئی ہے۔

جنرل ضیاء کی بطور آرمی چیف تقرری کو اس وقت کی عسکری قیادت نے قبول نہیں کیا تھا اور نواز شریف کے ہاتھوں برطرف کیے جانے والے اپنے آرمی چیف جنرل پرویز مشرف کے ساتھ کھڑے ہوگئے تھے جو اپنے سری لنکا کے دورے پر تھے۔

Source: BBC Urdu



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