- Musharraf’s cousin and close aide Adnan Asad reveals former PM Shaukat Aziz had nothing to do with Sharif’s exile and is lying to get into the good books of the Sharif family
- Reveals how Shaukat came to be Musharraf’s finance minister after he had already tried to get the job of the State Bank Governor during Nawaz’s government
- Says the man who would later become prime minister, flew in on short notice and without informing his former employers for a cloak and dagger meeting with the military dictator
Former prime minister Shaukat Aziz had neither influenced former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf to let Nawaz Sharif go into exile, nor did Aziz organise any meeting between Saad Hariri and the military dictator for Sharif’s exile, Pakistan Today has learnt.
Aziz, these days, is trying ‘to set the record straight’ through a public relations drive in London after the launch of his book ‘From Banking to the Thorny World of Politics’.
However, Adnan Asad, a close aide of Musharraf as well as his cousin, who played a key role in getting Aziz installed as finance minister under Musharraf, has disputed Shaukat’s account of events as mentioned in his memoirs, saying that Aziz had lied several times trying to show Nawaz Sharif that “he had cared for them”.
In his memoirs, Aziz also claimed that he had nothing to do with the emergency imposed by Gen Musharraf on November 3, 2007 but a television clip has exposed the former prime minister when he had fully defended the imposition of the emergency.
Asad told Pakistan Today that Aziz was lying to create a soft corner for himself among the Sharif family.
Adnan Asad said that he had fresh memory of who played what role in the exile of Sharif as he himself was a key character in the covert deal.
SHAUKAT AZIZ’S ACCOUNT:
Shaukat Aziz has claimed in his memoir that he had influenced Musharraf and also invited Saad Hariri to help seal the exile deal. However, Musharraf’s aide claims that only three individuals were involved in the exile negotiations and Aziz was not one of them. He, in fact, had no role to play in it!
“Actually there were only three people privy and involved with the exit plan for Nawaz Sharif and his family. Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz. Kulsoom Nawaz had done all the ground work (for the deal). Even most of the Sharif family was not in the loop,” Adnan said.
He said that when the news was broken to the (Sharif) family, Shehbaz Sharif was in a shock, and did not want to leave. He wanted to face all the charges on Pakistani soil, he said.
“Hamza Shehbaz, who has an office on Canal Bank road Lahore, requested me to visit him. During our meeting, Hamza told me that a top secret meeting between Gen Aziz, Gen Ahsan and Gen Musharraf was taking place at 7 pm to decide the fate of the Sharif family. Hamza requested that a message from Shehbaz Sharif should be conveyed to Musharraf that Shehbaz would not like to go into exile and preferred to be tried under the law,” Adnan said.
When Adnan called Musharraf, the general was surprised and asked his cousin to get off the phone and call him from a defcom line.
“So I used Brig (r) Ejaz Shah’s defcom line at his home. The general listened and then said that the matter was highly secret and no one knew about it, so how did I know,” Adnan said. The general was told the message was from Shehbaz through his son Hamza.
“The general got infuriated and said to tell Shehbaz that he has to go along with the elder Sharif, otherwise he will have to face dire consequences,” the aide said.
“So Shaukat had nothing to do with it. He is just trying to show the Sharifs that he cared for them,” the aide added.
SHAUKAT’S ‘SECRET’ MEETING WITH MUSHARRAF AND HIS TEAM:
During his book launch event, Shaukat Aziz claimed he had never met General (r) Pervez Musharraf before he was called to join his government.
“Before that I was a banker which is a very boring job,” Aziz told the audience in a lighter vein – a claim that is vigorously denied by Adnan Asad.
The aide to Musharraf said that prior to the military takeover in 1999, Shaukat Aziz was willing to meet Nawaz Sharif for an interview for the post of State Bank of Pakistan Governor as the sitting governor Dr Muhammad Yaqoob was retiring.
SHAUKAT SENDS IN HIS CV:
However, after Musharraf’s takeover, the new government was looking for technocrats. Shaukat Aziz sent his resume to his former associate Sherry Shahzad Hussain, who got in touch with Adnan Asad through Ghouse Akbar.
“Shaukat’s resume had one positive point – he had a good tax record. I called Syed Babar Ali to get a reference for Shaukat Aziz who said that Shaukat was an okay choice, but warned that he was a sycophant and a player (“massager and operator”), and the general should keep a close watch,” Adnan recalled.
“So I thought that the man with this kind of wealth will not indulge in petty theft or getting commissions. I called up my cousin, who had been in office a few days, and asked for an appointment to meet Shaukat on Saturday, October 16, 1999 and faxed him the resume.
‘CLOAK AND DAGGER’:
Sherry called Shaukat in New York and asked him to fly in for the meeting,” Musharraf’s aide revealed.
Shaukat told Adnan that since he was not informing anyone at the bank about his travel to Islamabad, he did not want his passport stamped with a Pakistan entry. Moreover, he had to get back for a meeting on Monday so he must fly back Sunday night. Shaukat also insisted on staying in Rawalpindi as he did not want hotelier Sadaruddin Hashwani to know he was in town.
Adnan’s classmate Mohammad Riaz Khan had a posting in Customs while Brig (r) Ejaz Shah was the director of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Punjab. “Through the good offices of both, I personally received Shaukat Aziz and drove him to the Rawalpindi Pearl Continental Hotel’s 5th floor where two rooms had been booked.”
This was the night when Gen Musharraf was going to speak to the nation about his seven-point agenda,” Musharraf’s aide said.
‘PINS AND NEEDLES’:
“The plan was that the speech would air at 7pm and the General would meet Shaukat after his speech at the Army House. However, for various reasons, the live transmission kept getting delayed. Shaukat Aziz was getting nervous as time was short and he kept pushing Sherry and Ghouse to find out the status of his meeting.”
“Ghouse walked to the room across the hallway and told me that the man is nervous and that maybe I should drive him to the Army House if it is possible, just to give him some confidence. I told him to calm down as I had called the ADC to the General to find out the status of the meeting,” Adnan said.
The speech was finally aired at about 11pm.
So, Adnan went to the Army House along with Shaukat and the General, after his speech had ended, and called him.
“I told Musharraf that I was with Shaukat and that he [the General] had promised to meet him. The General told me to ignore Shaukat and come home and said that he would meet him on Monday. I knew Shaukat’s time constraints and since I was probably the closest to the General, I insisted that he should meet Shaukat. The General then told me to wait for 10 minutes,” he said.
After 10 minutes, the General called back, and told me that as a favour, he has asked his five-member team to meet up Shaukat on Sunday morning.
So the GHQ was especially opened up for Shaukat Aziz on Sunday and the meeting was set at the office of the then Chief of General Staff (CGS), Gen Aziz.
Adnan drove Shaukat Aziz to the GHQ in Javed Arfeen’s car and walked into the office of General Aziz.
“Shaukat Aziz and I met with the five-member team including Gen Aziz, Gen Anis Bajwa, Gen Ehsan, Gen Mahmood and Tariq Aziz. The one-hour interview focused on school activities and banking while Pakistan was discussed for five minutes. Shaukat was uncomfortable during the meeting.” It was almost noon on Sunday.
“So I went to the General’s room while Musharraf was in the bathroom next to his study shaving. He was in his vest and track suit bottom. I requested Musharraf to meet Shaukat. The general at first refused but I prevailed. The General put on a shirt over his tracksuit trousers, walked out and met Shaukat for three minutes. All the general said was that ‘we will look at your induction favorably’.”
“I took Shaukat to the Pearl Continental, where Ghouse and Sherry were eagerly waiting. We left for the airport at 5pm to catch the 7pm flight to Karachi. Shaukat was seated on seat 1-A, Sherry on 1-B, and I was on 2-B. When the seatbelt signs went off and the plane was cruising at about 30,000 ft, all three of us stood up and started talking with each other. Shaukat thanked me for all the support and told Sherry that if he became the finance minister, he will appoint him as president of the National Bank of Pakistan,” Adnan said.
The fight was a little late and landed in Karachi at about 9.15pm. Adnan and Shaukat rushed to the international terminal as the PIA flight for Dubai was scheduled to fly out at 10pm.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan, who was also Adnan’s classmate, saw Shaukat Aziz at the airport and wished him well. On seeing Adnan, Khan asked Shaukat if he was here to meet Musharraf.
“By the time Shaukat reached the international counter of the PIA, the flight was closed. Shaukat became very nervous,” Adnan said.
“I told the shift in-charge to help Shaukat with a boarding card, but the request was refused. So I called the airport manager at home who in turn called the shift in-charge. Shaukat and I rushed to the aircraft but the door was closed. However, the bridge was still attached to the plane. The shift in-charge knocked on the aircraft door, the door was opened and Shaukat was virtually pushed in,” Musharraf’s aide said.
‘THE FAIRYTALE ENDING’:
“During the following week, Sherry kept following up on behalf of Shaukat. About seven days later, Gen Aziz called and told me that Shaukat had been approved for the position of the finance minister and that he wanted to get in touch with him.”
“I called the New York office where Shaukat’s secretary patched up the call to London and Shaukat was on line. I informed him that he was now the finance minister. Shaukat was extremely excited. I then gave Gen Aziz his phone number and Aziz called him with the official news,” said Adnan Asad.
“A few days later, Shaukat decided to return and wanted Sherry, Ghouse and myself around. Shaukat was received at the airport. His cousin Mansoor, the then deputy secretary commerce, was also there. Shaukat was driven to the NDFC guesthouse, and housed in the VIP room upstairs.”