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Friday, 11 February, 2000, 13:44 GMT
Pakistan coup 'unplanned'

Gen Musharraf Gen Musharraf 'did not know he was sacked'


Pakistan's military ruler General Musharraf did not plan last October's coup in advance, according to evidence given at the trial of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Pakistan in crisis
Brigadier Nadeem Taj, a private secretary to General Musharraf, was giving evidence for the prosecution about events on 12 October, when a plane carrying General Musharraf was alleged to have been prevented from landing in the country.

Mr Sharif's brother, Shahbaz, and five others, are being tried on charges of hijacking, attempted murder and terrorism.


It is not true that the coup was prearranged
Brigadier Nadeem Taj


Brigadier Taj said that at no time was General Musharraf aware that he had been sacked by Mr Sharif, or of the army's move to take control in response.

"It is not true that the coup was prearranged," he said.

He said he only became aware of it when the army took over the control tower at Karachi airport and contacted General Musharraf through air traffic control.

'Confusion'

Describing events on board the plane, Brigadier Taj said that when they were told by the pilot that he had been refused permission to land at Karachi airport, General Musharraf told them to keep the news from the other passengers in order to avoid creating panic.

Soldiers at airport Soldiers take over Karachi airport during the coup
They had discussed with the pilot the possibility of landing in Ahmedabad in neighbouring India.

However, that was rejected by General Musharraf on safety grounds.

"The pilot was in a state of confusion. The situation was getting grim, tense and disappointing by the minute," said Brigadier Taj.

He also denied that General Musharraf was in control of the plane.

"It is also not true that after 7 pm [local time] I and the chief of the army staff were controlling the plane and not allowing the pilot to land," he said.

The brigadier was the only witness to testify on Friday.

So far, more than 15 witnesses have given evidence since the trial began more than two weeks ago. Many of them have described the ousted prime minister as the main player in the events of 12 October.

Mr Sharif and the other accused have all pleaded their innocence.

If found guilty, they could face the death penalty.
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See also:
10 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Witness barred from Sharif trial
09 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Sharif 'diverted aircraft'
30 Nov 99 |  South Asia
Analysis: Justice under scrutiny
02 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Pilot describes coup flight fears
26 Jan 00 |  South Asia
Key witness testifies against Sharif
21 Jan 00 |  South Asia
Sharif had 'jailbreak plan'
13 Oct 99 |  South Asia
Profile: Nawaz Sharif
11 Nov 99 |  South Asia
Pakistan's coup: The 17-hour victory

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