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Commanders discuss situation

October 08, 2001

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ISLAMABAD, Oct 7: The corps commanders met here late Sunday night to discuss latest security situation in the region amid strong reports that two seniormost generals, including ISI chief, had resigned for being superseded.

Maj-Gen Rashid Qureshi, director-general, ISPR, when contacted by Dawn late night about the resignations, did not confirm or deny. He said: “I have no knowledge about the resignations”. No official comment was available about corps commanders meeting.

He, however, confirmed that Gen Muzaffar Hussain Usmani, deputy chief of army staff and Lt. Gen Mehmood, director general Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) were senior to Lt. Gen. Aziz Khan, corps commander Lahore and Lt Gen Mohammad Yousaf, chief of general staff.

“This I can confirm that the two officers promoted on Sunday were junior to Gen Usmani and Gen Mehmood”, said Mr Qureshi reiterating that he did not have the knowledge of resignations as yet.

An ISPR press release said that Lt Gen Mohammad Aziz Khan, commander 4th corps and Lt Gen Mohammad Yousaf, chief of general staff Pakistan have been promoted to the rank of general with immediate effect.

“Gen Mohammad Aziz Khan has been appointed as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee while Gen Mohammad Yousaf has been appointed Vice Chief of Army Staff.

The timing of changes in the army top hierarchy is very significant as it has coincided with the US attacks in Kabul, Jalalabad and Kandahar.

The fact that President Gen Pervez Musharraf had the prior knowledge of the US attacks and superseded the two senior most generals known for their hawkish stance, was being interpreted as a move to sideline hardliners.

Observers believed that the president had in mind the decades old tradition of the senior officers resigning in cases of promotion of a junior officer over their heads.

Dawn made several attempts to contact General Mehmood in Islamabad but his numbers were not responding.

Meanwhile, selective reports pouring out of the corps commanders meeting indicated that armed forces personnel were being redeployed for enhanced security measures.

Defence sources said that additional units were relocated from their parent corps and deployed in and around the federal capital. Instructions were also conveyed for beefing up the security around important installations.

Special anti-terrorist squads were deputed in all major cities to avoid any untoward incident. Armed forces personnel were put on alert to in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta and Islamabad to control any politico-religious backlash.