Issue No 12, Oct 07-13, 2002 | ISSN:1684-2075 |

Complete Story


Former Pakistan Navy Chief, Admiral Fasih Bokhari breaks his Mandatory Silence by Revealing

“Musharraf had decided to Topple Nawaz much before Oct 12”

Mohammed Shehzad

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan former Naval Chief, Admiral Fasih Bokhari, who suddenly resigned a week before the Oct 12 coup in 1999, says he knew about General Musharraf’s plans to topple Nawaz Sharif and did not want to be part of these “Dirty Games”.

The comments by Admiral Bokhari come exactly three years after his resignation. He told this correspondent now he was free to speak because the minimum term to stay quiet after leaving the Navy job had been completed.

“I resigned on October 5, 1999, a week before Musharraf’s coup of Oct 12 because I had come to know that he had decided to topple the Sharif government,” Adm Bokhari said in Islamabad after he had attended an SDPI seminar on the plight of the Okara tenants and the role of the Army in evicting them from their lands.

Asked why in his view Gen Musharraf wanted to topple Nawaz Sharif, Adm Bokhari said: “Because he feared he will have to face a court martial for masterminding the Kargil (debacle).”

“I rang him up and told him that I was resigning. I could have stayed for another five months. He asked me not to resign. I said that I don’t want to embarrass him. Because he was junior to me. He used to call me Sir. He said that I should resign but say after two months. I said no and insisted that I wanted to resign and he agreed,” the former Navy Chief said.

He also disclosed that immediately after his resignation, two former generals came to him, probably sent by General Musharraf. “When I had resigned, one day General Talat Masood rang me up. He said he wanted to see me along with Sahibzada Yaqub Ali Khan. I said come on. They came and sought my views. I told them that Musharraf should not have done this (the coup). He would regret it and would not have an exit strategy. The best for him would be to leave as soon as possible and seek a solution like (former COAS General) Abdul Waheed Kakar. They said why don’t I share this with Musharraf. I said I had no intention. They said could they tell this to him. I said go ahead.”

“They went to him and told him what I was saying. Musharraf greeted them and said he wanted them, otherwise it would be difficult for him to run the show. Musharraf massaged their ego. He offered one the post of member PAC (General Talat Masood). And promised to send other as his special emissary, which he did.”

Admiral Bokhari says he did not want to become “part of this dirty game. I am happy to have resigned.”

Bokhari has been slowly becoming politically active but now he seems ready to take up the job full time, as evident from his participation in the campaign against the Okara tenants and his occasional remarks to the Press in the past.

In August this year Bokhari addressed a seminar in Islamabad and called for “ending confrontational politics and pursuing policies that could empower the citizens and ensure consumer rights,” carefully worded words for anyone to begin his political career.

He spoke at the Centre for Technology and Policy Analysis (CENTPA), a newly established think tank, which held a meeting on 'Defining a Strategy for Political and Electoral Reforms in Pakistan' at the Imperial Institute of Technology. The meeting, presided over by him brought together various stakeholders in Pakistan's democratic process including representatives of two major political parties, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People's Party (PPP), international donors like the UNDP, Friedrich Naumann Stiftung (FNS), Hans Siedel Foundation and National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI).

Bokhari also emerged as a strong proponent of people’s right to access information on allocation of resources. He has been urging political parties to announce their plans regarding financial allocations prior to the elections in October.

An ardent supporter of greater transparency, he says, it would not only empower the people but also limit the manipulative capacity of the vested interests.

Bokhari even mentioned transparency in decision making while handing over the scroll to the new Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Abdul Aziz Mirza, shortly after his resignation.

“If there is any contribution that I am asked to single out during my tenure, it would the transparency in decision making. The difference between a good and a bad process of decision making is transparency and wide participation. Wider participation leads to more rational decisions,” he said at the handing over ceremony.

Admiral Fasih Bokhari retired after four decades of service in the Pakistan Navy. He graduated from the Pakistan Naval Academy in 1959, the Royal Naval College (Dartmouth) in 1962, and the French Naval War College in 1975. He commanded submarines, destroyers, a Destroyer Division, a Submarine Squadron, and the Pakistan Navy Fleet.

He held senior staff billets in the Operations, Personnel, and Supply Branches at the Naval Headquarters. He saw active service in the Indo-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971. His foreign assignments include submarine acquisition in France, Destroyer acquisition in the USA, submarine training in Turkey, and as the Senior Pakistan Navy Officer in Saudi Arabia.

He is known to be a supporter of peace with India and even adversaries recognize that. Indian Navy Admiral (retd) J G Nadkarni recently wrote that Pakistan had sensible mariners in decision-making positions who were keen to have agreements with the Indian Navy.

“Admiral Fasih Bokhari, Pakistan's naval chief from 1997 to 1999, was a great proponent of maritime co-operation with India and believed that it would benefit both countries,” the Indian Admiral wrote.

He also mentioned that Indian Admirals Vishnu Bhagwat and Sushil Kumar had also been keen to bring about greater co-operation between the two navies. “The ingredients are all there. It now requires only a final push to see some sort of preliminary maritime co-operation agreement, which may bring an era of peace and prosperity at sea between the two counties,” he wrote.
The bottom line is that Admiral Fasih Bokhari is now going to be a new rising star on the Pakistani political scene and he had excellent credentials to take up the challenge.

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