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October 13, 1999
President Rafiq Tarar too put under house arrest
Josy Joseph in New Delhi
The Indian defence establishment is keenly watching the movements of General Pervez Musharraf, who reached Islamabad from Karachi this afternoon.
Authoritative information is now available with India about the Pakistan Army putting President Rafiq Tarar also under house arrest. The army has also taken into custody the Karachi inspector general of police who had gone to the airport to arrest General Musharraf on his return to the country from Sri Lanka on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief, his brother Shahbaz, Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz and Information Minister Mushahid Hussain, were placed under house arrest yesterday.
According to sources, General Musharraf is facing dissent, though not in the form of an immediate threat, from at least three of his corps commanders. According to available information, the corps commanders based in Quetta, Gujranwala and Peshawar are reluctant to co-operate with the army chief. "But they could give in to his pressure, we never know," said a source.
A meeting of the corps commanders was scheduled for late tonight in Islamabad. Sources said only after this meeting would a definite picture emerge.
While ruling out any immediate provocation at the borders, Indian Army sources said the future would be dictated by decisions taken by General Musharraf.
"The available information is that he may not go for too long with martial law. The administration may be handed over to an interim government, or some sort of stop-gap arrangement may be arrived at," an Indian intelligence source said.
Sources confirmed that the Indian Army had put on hold its earlier decision to withdraw units from the international border. The army is also maintaining a state of high alert all along the Line of Control.
The army units, which had taken up offensive positions along the international border during the Kargil crisis, were slowly beginning to return to their bases after handing over the posts to the Border Security Force. Sources said some units in Punjab had already moved back, "but further movements will be put on hold for the time being", a senior army officer said.
Though there was no definite information about General Musharraf's plans, it is expected that he would stay put in the twin cities of Islamabad-Rawalpindi for some time.
As far as any threat to India is concerned, General Musharraf, sources said, is a shrewd military strategist who would not risk a direct confrontation with India.
In recent times, however, he did strengthen the military. Only about a month back he secretly inducted the Ghauri-II missile into the Pakistani military arsenal.
Sources also pointed that General Musharraf has a string of loyalists in the top rung of the Pakistan military. Till now, both the air force chief and the new navy chief have supported his decisions.
Though not much is known about General Musharraf's background, he was born in Delhi in 1943. He migrated to Pakistan during the Partition and fought against India in the 1965 war, a year after he was commissioned into an artillery regiment. He is a graduate of the Command and Staff College in Quetta, Baluchistan.
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