|Former Chief of Army Staff|
|Born: August 2, 1931 (age 81)|
|Profession: Pak army Personnel|
|Affiliation(s): Pakistan Army|
|Views: 8,129 | Comments: 2 | Votes: 1|
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|General Mirza Aslam Beg,
(born 2 August 1931), is a retired four star rank general who was the
Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army succeeding General Muhammad
Zia-ul-Haq, after the latter died in an air crash on 17 August 1988. He
continued to hold the powerful post of Army Chief till 1991, when his
political ambitions forced the then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan to
nominate General Asif Nawaz as the new Army chief three months prior to
Gen Beg’s retirement. As Army chief, Beg is credited for improving the
fighting capabilities of the Pakistan Army.
Aslam Beg was born to a Muslim family in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, India.
His father Mirza Murtaza Beg was an Adovocate who practiced in Azamgarh
Civil court. Beg did his schooling in Azamgarh, UP, India, from Shibli
National College .
Beg was commissioned in the 6th PMA Long Course in the Infantry's Baloch
Regiment on 23 August 1952. In 1958, Captain Beg was selected for the
Special Service Group and did his training in the United States. As a
Major, Beg commanded an SSG company in 1960 to remove the Nawab of Dir
in Chitral in the northern part of North-West Frontier Province. From
March 1975 to January 1978, then Brigadier Mirza Aslam Beg stayed as
the Chief Instructor of Armed Forces War College at the then National
Defence College, Rawalpindi.
- Senior appointments
In 1978, Beg was
promoted to major general and posted as the Adjutant General (AG) at
GHQ. Later, he served as the Chief of General Staff (CGS) of the
Pakistan Army for five years from 1980 to 1985. As CGS, Beg was in
charge of planning the counter-offensive to the 1984 Indian invasion of
Siachen marking the beginnings of the ongoing Siachen conflict. After
serving at the GHQ, both as major general and lieutenant general, he
commanded the XI Corps at Peshawar from 1985 to 1987.
- Chief of Army Staff
By March 1987, Beg was
promoted to four-star general and took over as Vice Chief of Army Staff
in General Zia-ul-Haq's military administration. After Zia's death in a
plane crash on 17 August 1988, Beg became Army chief. Soon thereafter,
general elections followed, resulting in a transfer of government to the
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) with Benazir Bhutto as the premier. Beg,
however, remained a powerful chief of army staff until 1991, when he was
replaced by General Asif Nawaz. He retired from the army on 16 August
1991 after completing 39 years of military service.
As COAS, General Beg is credited by an Australian expert for
encouraging "wider thinking about tactics" within the Pakistan Army,
particularly for establishing a much improved logistics chain and
"contributed immensely to the army’s war fighting capabilities."
- Mehran Bank scandal
After his retirement
Beg remained a controversial figure, both for his alleged role in a Bank
scandal and the nuclear proliferation issue. Former Air Marshal Asghar
Khan filed a petition in the Supreme Court (HRC 19/96) against the
retired General Mirza Aslam Beg, the former Inter-Services Intelligence
(ISI) chief retired Lt General Asad Durrani and Younis Habib of Mehran
Bank (merged with NBP in 1995), relating to the disbursement of public
money and its misuse for political purposes, which is now hearing by the
Supreme Court of Pakistan. According to one of the Pakistani newspaper
editorial, General Durrani who had distributed Rs 140 million to win
over the “for-sale” politicians never felt ashamed of his role or
offered an apology.
The case was initiated by Air Marshal Asghar Khan after Benazir
Bhutto's interior minister, another retired general, Naseerullah Babar,
had disclosed in the National Assembly in 1994 how the ISI had disbursed
funds to purchase the loyalty of politicians and public figures so as
to manipulate the 1990 elections and bring about the defeat of the PPP.
Aslam Beg managed to get Rs 140 million from Younis Habib and deposited
in the Survey Section 202 account of Military Intelligence, then headed
by Major General Javed Ashraf Qazi. From there, Rs 6 crore was paid to
President Ghulam Ishaq Khan's election cellmates (Lt General Syed
Refaqat, Roedad Khan, and Ijlal Haider Zaidi), and Rs 8 crore
transferred to the ISI account.
- Nuclear proliferation with Iran
Khaled Ahmed, the
consulting editor of The Friday Times contends that after taking over as
Chief of Army Staff, General Aslam Beg began talking about “selling”
nuclear technology as a part of his “strategy of defiance” of the United
States. He knew that such a nuclear cooperation with Iran was popular
and that, within an increasingly anti-American army Saudi Arabia and the
Persian Gulf Arabs were less popular as American clients in the region.
General Beg encouraged dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan to proliferate sensitive
centrifuge technology to Iran, and North Korea. The speed with which he
declared the new nuclear policy leads one to speculate whether he simply
wanted the “obstacle” of General Zia to disappear from the scene. Zia
was close to the Arabs, especially to Saudi Arabia, that had built a
grand multimillion dollar mosque in Islamabad, the Faisal Mosque, where
he was appropriately buried after his death.
- Accusation of role in Zia's death
It is also claimed in
the above mentioned article that Aslam Beg's strategy was much in-sync
with Abdul Qadeer Khan, founder of gas-centrifuge technology for the
Pakistan's nuclear devices, about bringing Iran into the fold of nuclear
prowess much to the annoyance of his boss, General Zia-ul-Haq.
Therefore, fueling the contention of Zia's son Muhammad Ijaz-ul-Haq,
that Beg was behind the death of his father. Even the Shafiur Rehman
Commission that was to establish the cause of the crash of Zia's plane
concluded that because of Army's obstruction in the investigation, the
real perpetrators behind the attack cannot be brought forward.
- Playing politics as the Chief of Army Staff
Najam Sethi, the
editor of Daily Times sharply rebukes General Beg for his past
misadventures into the domain of politics in a recent editorial. He asks
the former general to apologize for warning the then Prime Minister
Benazir Bhutto off a large area of internal and external policy in 1988,
and to apologize to the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for violating
an agreed foreign policy decision to send Pakistani troops to Saudi
Arabia when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990.
In the same article
Sethi contends that General Aslam Beg should "apologise for bringing the
Supreme Court in contempt when he admitted that he had influenced the
chief justice to prevent the restoration of Prime Minister Muhammad Khan
Junejo. When confronted with challenging a general, the Supreme Court
under Justice Muhammad Afzal Zullah got cold feet and let General Beg go
- Founding Friends think-tank
General Beg founded a policy think-tank called Friends and the
non-political Awami Qaiyadat Party (National Leadership Party) and
continued to be a powerful part of Pakistan's ruling oligarchs. He also
gave many interviews and appeared on some respectable channels posing as
the political and military analyst, most recent being the appearance on
PBS FRONTLINE/World's "Pakistan: On a Razor's Edge."
- Relations with President Musharraf
Pervez Musharraf served under both Beg and Gul, and apparently had high
respect for them, but after September 11, 2001, they gradually drifted
apart. Their differences surfaced for the first time when in a press
conference Musharraf spoke about the negative role of a few generals and
called them "pseudo-intellectuals.
"Later in January 2008, General Aslam Beg being part of Pakistan
Ex-Servicemen Society urged President Musharraf to voluntarily step down
in the greater interests of Pakistan.
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