WASHINGTON DC, Sept 21, 2005 | ISSN: 1684-2057 | www.satribune.com

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Defiant, Dissident General Declared Unfit for Election to Mayor's Office

By M Afzal Khan

ISLAMABAD, Sept. 21: A retired Lieutenant General of Pakistan Army, the former Chief of General Staff at the GHQ who was about to be named the Army Chief in 1976 and who later joined politics and became a senior minister, has now been declared unfit to become a District Mayor because "his educational papers appear to be suspicious."

In a sensational development an official of Musharraf's Election Commission, District Election Officer of Chakwal, has disqualified Lt. General (Retd) Majeed Malik from contesting the election of the District Nazim although he has been contesting for Parliament for years and was elected member of the National Assembly for 4 times.

Malik is also the senior-most Vice President of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) but has defied Chief Minister Punjab Choudhry Parvez Elahi’s nominee for the slot.

The treatment given to General Majeed Malik demonstrates in the most vivid terms the bankruptcy of the elections being held by Musharraf and confirm repeated allegations by the Opposition that the whole process was thoroughly rigged. It shows that if even a retired General stands up against Musharraf, or his cronies, he will be thrown out of the process summarily.

The then Lt. General Majeed Malik, was tipped as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) in 1976 before the then Prime Minister ZA Bhutto changed his mind to appoint six steps junior and later his own hangman, General Ziaul Haq as COAS.

Malik, 81, is pitted against the government-backed candidate and a PPP turn-coat Sardar Ghulam Abbas. He has spurned all pressures from the party, the Prime Minister and PML Chief Choudhry Shujaat Hussain for withdrawing from the contest. He is supported by an alliance of Opposition-backed councilors besides his own formidable group which makes him the most likely winner.

Malik’s son-in-law, Tahir Iqbal, is Minister of State for Environment in the Federal Cabinet who earned displeasure of the Chief Minister for objecting to his pet New Murree Project and a cement plant being set up in the area on environmental and ecological grounds.

Gen. Malik did his matriculation in 1935, joined the Royal Indian Army in 1940 and rose to be a General before retiring in 1976 along with six other senior generals when Zia superceded them to become Army Chief. At the time of retirement he was Chief of General Staff, the second most office in the army after COAS.

He joined PML in 1980s and thrice served as a Federal Minister in the governments of Mohammad Khan Junejo and Nawaz Sharif. He has also been elected member of the National Assembly four times in a row.

Malik’s papers were first accepted by the Returning Officer but his opponent Sardar Ghulam Abbas appealed to the District Returning Officer Mirza Rafiuz Zaman. Malik alleged that Punjab Government has exerted pressure on the officer. He was earlier threatened that his son-in-law may also lose his cabinet post.

The defiant General is fighting back but the system is loaded against him. He has sent a complaint to the Chief Election Commissioner accusing his opponent of blatantly presiding over meetings of police and administration officials to use them for manipulating the elections. He has moved the Rawalpindi Bench of the Lahore High Court against rejection of his papers. As a precaution, Malik’s son had filed papers as a cover candidate and would contest the election if his father fails to make it to the polls due on October 6.

Malik has also made an unsuccessful bid to garner support within the PML. During a recent meeting of the Central Executive Committee, only one party leader, Syed Kabir Ali Wasti, backed him while others kept a discreet silence. Wasti is known to be a person who takes unpopular and sometimes not so politically correct decisions.

In a related development, police have registered a case against opposition candidate for key Rawal Town Nazim in Rawalpindi, Rana Tanvir, who is contesting against nephew of Information Minister Shaikh Rashid Ahmed. Police have arrested Rana’s brother who himself has gone underground.

Opposition members in the National Assembly Monday night raised the issue in the house and staged a walk out after the speaker ruled out their motion.

The writer is a senior Islamabad-based journalist and writes for The Nation and Khaleej Times

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