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Musharraf, Nawaz & Hijacking from the Ground

Aminullah Chaudry

Aminullah Chaudry joined the Civil Service of Pakistan in 1967. In 1998, he was appointed director general civil aviation authority of Pakistan, and in early 1999, secretary aviation, government of Pakistan. He was serving in these positions at the time of the coup of 12 October 1999, which brought chief of army staff, Gen Pervaiz Musharraf, into power.

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Early the same afternoon, prime minister Nawaz Sharif had dismissed Gen Musharraf, away on a visit to Sri Lanka, and replaced him with Gen Ziauddin Butt. When the latter was not allowed to assume command by a section of the army, he turned to Nawaz Sharif for help. The prime Minister then ordered Aminullah Chaudry to divert PK 805, the flight on which Gen Musharraf was returning home, away from Karachi and preferably out of the country. As the civil aviation ordinance permitted the prime minister to divert any commercial flight from its specified route, and the Director General to close down any airport. Aminullah denied the use of Karachi and its designed alternative Nawabshah to PK 805. When the pilot of PK 805 informed the tower that he was running short of fuel, he was cleared to land at Nawabshah. Before he could do this, the army stormed the control tower in Quaid-e-Azam international airport and order PK 805 to return to Karachi. Despite this, Gen Musharraf, at that time in the cockpit of PK805, remained airborne for another thirty eight minutes until he was sure that the army had deposed Nawaz Sharif.

Although only a diversion was ordered, Nawaz Sharif and six others were charged with hijacking PK 805, working under the shadow of Gen Musharraf’s autocratic regime, the courts convicted Nawaz Sharif, Aminullah Chaudry was also arrested kept in solitary confinement and later forced to testify against sharif.

            Having witnessed the farcical trial at first hand, Aminullah is one person who can give a first hand account of a grossly flawed judicial process. He shows how the legal process was distorted and the fundamentals of Aviation Law disregarded.

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