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Call for Musharraf treason trial

By M Ilyas Khan
BBC News, Karachi

President Pervez Musharraf (image from 25 March)
Mr Musharraf and Mr Sharif are bitter political enemies

One of Pakistan's most powerful political leaders, Nawaz Sharif, has demanded the trial and resignation of President Pervez Musharraf for treason.

Mr Sharif was reacting to a former general who accused the president of starting the 1999 Kargil war with India without informing the government.

The war led to a falling out between Mr Sharif, who was prime minister, and Mr Musharraf, then army chief.

Months later, Mr Sharif's government was toppled in a military coup.

'Never briefed'

It happened after he attempted to sack Mr Musharraf, the coup leader.

The president has since maintained that the army had taken the civilian government on board over the Kargil plan, but Mr Sharif insists the operation was launched behind his back.

Now a senior retired army general, Lieut-Gen Jamshed Gulzar Kiani, has endorsed Mr Sharif's position.

"In my view, Nawaz Sharif did not know anything about Kargil, he was never briefed by the army," he told a Geo TV interviewer on Monday.

Indian troops with their weapons in the Kargil sector of Kashmir in 1999
The Kargil war was relatively brief but very bloody

The Kargil operation was intended to sever a key Indian supply line to the disputed Kashmir region.

Mr Sharif ordered the troops out of Kargil when the US warned Pakistan that the war might spill over across a wider region.

Some in military circles have blamed him for "succumbing to American pressure" and aborting a "brilliant" plan.

But Mr Kiani said in his interview that it was a "disastrous plan, a mistake (of Mr Musharraf) which resulted in defeat".

He also lashed out at President Musharraf for ignoring his corps commanders' advice of not siding with the US "blindly" in its so-called war on terror, saying this had given birth to suicide bombers who now could not be brought under control.

Prematurely retired

"Pervez Musharraf should be punished and made an example so that others do not dare do such damage to the country again," he said.

Commenting on the interview, Nawaz Sharif told the media on Tuesday that Gen Kiani had vindicated his position on the issue.

He said Mr Musharraf should be tried for treason.

A major-general at the time of 1999 coup, Mr Kiani was handpicked by Mr Musharraf to lead the 111 Brigade, and later the 10-Corps, both of which have been key to all previous military take-overs.

After his retirement in 2001, he was given chairmanship of the Federal Public Service Commission which recruits personnel for the country's top administrative positions.

But in 2003, he was prematurely retired after his terms of contract were changed by Mr Musharraf.

He went to court against that decision.

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