Islmabad, Oct 08: Contrary to his claims, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf planned to oust the Nawaz Sharif government and stage a military coup well before October 12, 1999 as he feared a court martial over the Kargil debacle, former Pakistan Naval Chief Admiral Fasih Bukhari has alleged.
Bukhari, who resigned a week before the military coup, said he quit because he "had come to know that he (Musharraf) had decided to topple the Sharif government."
Musharraf wanted to topple Sharif as "he feared he will have to face a court martial for masterminding the Kargil (debacle)", Bukhari was quoted as saying by Pakistani website newspaper South Asia Tribune.
Recounting the days before his resignation, Admiral Bukhari, who was a known moderate and worked for normalisation of relations with India, said Musharraf tried to dissuade him from resigning.
"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," he said.
Bukhari's revelations, which come two days ahead of the general elections could turn out to be a major political embarrassment for Musharraf who plans to continue as President for the next five years.
The Admiral's allegations would contradict Musharraf's claims that his plane from Colombo was denied permission of landing in Karachi. He later returned with the help of senior commanders and took over power in Islamabad.
Admiral Bukhari also disclosed that immediately after his resignation Musharraf sent two former Army Generals to meet him. "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. They came and sought my views. I told them Musharraf should not have done this (the coup). He would regret it and would not have an exit strategy. The best thing for him would be to leave as soon as possible and seek a solution like (former COAS General) Abdul Waheed Kakar", he said.
The report said the retired Admiral was known to be a supporter of peace with India.
Former Indian Navy Chief J G Nadkarni recently wrote that "Admiral Fasih Bukhari, 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."
Admiral Nandkarni also mentioned that recent Indian Naval Chiefs, 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 countries," Admiral Nandkarni wrote.