Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pakistan: For The First Time, Two Officers from Gilgit-Baltistan Promoted to Major General


The Promotion Board of the Pakistan Army, chaired by General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), approved on November 15,2010, the promotions of 23 Brigadiers to the rank of Major-General.

2. According to the “Pamir Times”, two of the new Majors-General ---Major-Gen.Salman Ali of the Army Medical Corps and Maj-Gen. Hidayat-Ur-Rehman of the Infantry--- are natives of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB). This is the first time since Pakistan occupied the Northern Areas (now known as GB) of India’s Jammu &Kashmir in 1948 that two natives of the Pakistan-occupied territory have risen to the rank of Maj-Gen.

3.Previously, Mohammad Aziz Khan, a member of the Sudhan tribe of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (which Pakistan calls Azad Kashmir), rose to the rank of a General. He was a trusted confidante of Gen.Pervez Musharraf and organized the overthrow of Nawaz Sharif, the then Prime Minister, in October 1999. At that time, he was a Lt.Gen. and serving as the Chief of the General Staff (CGS) in the Army Headquarters. Under US pressure, he was shifted from the GHQ in October 2001 before the US troops went into action against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US and posted as a Corps Commander in Lahore. He retired in 2004 as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee with the rank of a General. As the CGS, he co-ordinated the training of the various jihadi terrorist organizations, including the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and the Taliban, and supervised the military operations during the Pakistani intrusion in the Kargil area of J&K in 1999.

His telephone conversation with Musharraf, who was on a visit to Beijing, was intercepted by the Indian intelligence and this revealed the details of his role in the Kargil operation of the Pakistan Army. He was a fundamentalist officer and the Americans felt uncomfortable with his presence in the GHQ at the time of their going into action in Afghanistan. They made Musharraf remove him from the GHQ. Other natives of the POK have also risen to senior positions in the Pakistan Army, but this is the first time two natives of GB have risen to the rank of a Maj-Gen.

4. According to the “Pamir Times”, Major General Hidayat ur Rehman hails from the Astore Valley and Major General Salman Ali belongs to the Gojal Valley in the Hunza area. ( 16-11-10)

The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai.