ISLAMABAD, Dec 6 The decision to allow US forces to use Pakistani airports and other facilities for operations against Taliban in Afghanistan was taken by former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf unilaterally without taking corps commanders into confidence.This has been revealed by former chief of general staff and corps commander Lt-Gen (retd) Shahid Aziz in an interview with Dawn.
He said in fact most of the decisions regarding Pakistan's support to the US were taken by the former president without the knowledge of top military brass.
He said that Gen Musharraf had not taken corps commanders into confidence before giving control of Jacobabad and Pasni airports to the US. He said the then director-general military operations, the CGS (Shahid Aziz), and the DGs of ISI and MI were told about giving only “touch down” facilities to US helicopters in case of emergency landing for medical reasons and that too when Jacobabad airport had already been handed over to the US forces.
He said that he himself and the corps commanders came to know much later that airport had been completely handed over the US for regular sorties into Afghanistan when a battalion from the Quetta corps was ordered to move to Jacobabad airport for security.“When a battalion from Quetta reached Jacobabad for airport security, the Pakistan army personnel were stopped by US troops from entering the area,” he said.
They were told that entire airport area had already been handed over to the US troops for security and the Pakistani soldiers should put in place another security layer outside the airport.
It was only then that the senior army officers, including Shahid Aziz, came to know that the US authorities had set up a large ammunition depot and their planes were using the airport for regular flights to and from Afghanistan.
The retired general recalled a meeting at the general headquarters, attended by the chief of general staff (Shahid Aziz), director generals of Inter Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence and perhaps director general inter services public relations, in which participants opposed the handing over of airports to the US for operations in Afghanistan that Gen Musharraf informed that he had already given a commitment to the US.
He believed that Gen Musharraf had issued the orders only to the persons concerned for most of the tasks required by the US forces on 'need to know basis' without the knowledge of other military authorities.
Giving an example, he said, even the NLC was tasked to transport goods and material required by the US directly through the quarter master general.