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General (R) Ehtisham Zamir

General (R) Ehtisham Zamir
Former Head of ISI
Born: N/A
Profession: Anaylst
Affiliation(s): Pakistan Army Personel
Citizenship: Pakistani
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General Ehtisham Zamir, the former head of ISI’s political cell, has admitted playing a key role in rigging the 2002 polls to favor PML(Q), the pro-Musharraf faction of the Pakistan Muslim League. This was a joint effort of the ISI’s political cell and the National Accountability Bureau. While it has been considered an open secret by many, this is the first time the ISI’s role in 2002 election rigging has been confirmed by a former ISI top official who directly participated in it. In September 2002, Zahid Hussain of The News Online reported as follows:

“For several weeks before the nominations were filed, Tariq Aziz, President Musharraf’s powerful principal secretary, had camped out in Lahore, wheeling and dealing with politicians. The country’s most powerful bureaucrat had an important task assigned to him by his military leader. His job was to knock together a pro-military alliance. Aided by Major General Ehtisham Zamir, the head of the ISI’s domestic wing, and the crafty Brigadier (retd), Aijaz Shah a former ISI officer and home secretary Punjab, Aziz finally manoeuvered a list of ” loyal” candidates for the National Assembly from the province. Most of them belong to the PML (Q) and the Grand National Alliance, but there are several others who, the military government believes, were willing to cooperate.”

In 2002, after a similar report in British newspaper The Guardian, the Daily Times of Pakistan quoted Maj-Gen Rashid Qureshi as saying, “The report is totally fabricated as there is no political wing at ISI. Such reports appearing at a time when the general elections are just coming close might have some vested interest. Maybe the reporter wants to project as if ISI is planning to manipulate the elections, which is absolutely incorrect,”

Talking to Umar Cheema of The News in Pakistan yesterday, Retired General Zamir, the head of the ISI’s political cell in 2002, admitted manipulating the last elections at the behest of President Musharraf and termed the defeat of the King’s party, the PML-Q, this time “a reaction of the unnatural dispensation (installed in 2002).”

The son of the well known Pakistani satirical poet Mr. Zamir Jaffery, Maj-Gen (retd) Ehtesham Zamir termed the 2008 elections ‘fairer than 2002’. He said the reason behind their fairness is that there was relatively less interference of intelligence agencies this time as compared to the last time. But he stopped short of saying that there was zero interference in the 2008 polls.

Just a few days prior to the Elections 2008, the Army Chief General Kayani issued orders barring officers from any unauthorized meetings with Pakistani politicians, including the president. The army commander also said the military wouldn’t play any role in staging the February 18 parliamentary elections, outside of providing security.

It should be noted that the former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto issued the executive order creating a political cell within the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) with the purpose of influencing political processes in Pakistan. This fateful decision in 1975 eventually brought ZA Bhutto’s own downfall when he used this cell to unnecessarily rig the 1977 elections and was overthrown and executed by General Zia-ul-Haq. It was also this cell that helped Nawaz Sharif , a protege of General Zia-ul-Haq, get elected as Prime Minister of Pakistan after the General’s death in a mysterious air crash followed by a brief term in office by Benazir Bhutto. In 1990 the ISI received 140m rupees (US$2.2m at current values) to rig national elections, according to supreme court testimony by the then chief of army staff, General Mirza Aslam Beg.
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