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TRANSCRIPT: BBC Profile Of Pakistan Coup Leader

Published: Wed 13 Oct 1999 09:54 AM
Transcript Begins
BBC/World/South Asia/Profile
Little is known about General Pervez Musharraf - but he was one of the most significant players in the recent Kashmir crisis.
According to Indian media reports, the general, who belongs to an Urdu-speaking family in Karachi, began his military service in 1964. Earlier in his career, he reportedly commanded artillery and infantry brigades before going on to lead various commando units.
He reportedly underwent two spells of military training in the UK and was appointed director-general of military operations before taking full charge of the armed forces.
Gen Musharraf rose to the top job in 1998 after Pakistan's powerful army chief, General Jehangir Karamat, resigned two days after calling for the army to be given a key role in the country's decision-making process. It was the first time an army chief of staff has ever stepped down and many observers took it as a sign that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's political power had become strong enough to secure the long-term future of civilian administrations.
At the time, military sources described Gen Musharraf as very much in the same mould as General Karamat - a reformer with largely pro-Western attitudes.
If that assessment had been borne out, experts say the military may have been content to remain on the sidelines, occasionally advising the government behind the scenes.
But crucially, the sense of discontent in the army could have grown. Kashmir crisis During the Kashmir crisis, Gen Musharraf was regularly seen briefing the media and making appearances on state television.
But while he said that Pakistan-backed militants were preventing Indian gains, he and other senior generals were reportedly increasingly angry at the prime minister's attempts to find a diplomatic way out of the crisis.
Mr Sharif's moves led to speculation that the crisis was being conducted without full political backing from the government and he eventually ordered a full withdrawal.
The general was the first senior Pakistani figure to acknowledge that its troops had entered the Indian-administered sector during the fighting. Previously, Pakistan had said that the forces had all been Islamic militants determined to take territory from the other side of the Line of Control.
In an interview with the BBC, he said that there had been "occasional and aggressive patrolling" by Pakistani troops on the Indian side to pre-empt any possible Indian attack on Pakistan.
Following the order to withdraw, Gen Musharraf told the BBC that the crisis had been a "great success" for Pakistan.
However, recent weeks have seen reports of increasing tension between the prime minister and his chief of staff and rising dissatisfaction in the army.
In contrast, India's ruling BJP party has sought to make electoral capital out of what it saw as a great military victory.
'No political role'
In a 1998 interview, the general reportedly said that the Pakistani army was no longer directly involved in politics - despite the country's long history of military rule.
"We are not being dragged into politics," he reportedly said. "Of course, we are involved conceptually, but our manpower is not involved."
While being credited as one of the principal strategists behind the recent Kashmir crisis, Gen Musharraf told journalists in March this year that he did not oppose diplomatic efforts to ease tension with India, including the initiative to operate a bus service between the two countries.
Transcript Ends
Alastair Thompson
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Alastair Thompson is the co-founder of Scoop. He is of Scottish and Irish extraction and from Wellington, New Zealand. Alastair has 24 years experience in the media, at the Dominion, National Business Review, North & South magazine, Straight Furrow newspaper and online since 1997. He is the winner of several journalism awards for business and investigative work.
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