Operation Midnight Jackal

Operation Midnight Jackal was a political scandal in Pakistan in which members of the ISI (a military intelligence agency) attempted to overthrow the government of Benazir Bhutto. Former ISI operative Brigadier Imtiaz Ahmed Billa is regarded as the mastermind of the plot. The operation was exposed when Intelligence Bureau IB taped a conversation between two army officers of ISI regarding toppeling down the government of Benazir Bhutto. In the conversation one Officer Major Aamir (retired from Military after exposition of operation) reviled that General Mirza Aslam Baig ( COAS Pakistan Army) of that time wanted to end government due to some issues.

Former Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief Brigadier (r) Imtiaz said Operation Midnight Jackal was launched to topple Benazir Bhutto’s government, Dunya TV reported on Thursday.

Talking to the channel, he said the operation was not a big issue, but the politicians had politicised it.

He revealed that General (r) Aslam Beg, the army chief at the time, wanted to bring a change in the National Assembly through a no-confidence motion with the help of Operation Midnight Jackal, as General Beg believed that Benazir Bhutto’s policies were contrary to those of the army. He said General Beg did not agree to Benazir’s Afghan policy. The former IB chief said after Benazir Bhutto was sworn in as prime minister, General Beg and then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan had discussed at length the possibility of replacing her, adding that the operation was also launched for that reason.

Brigadier (r) Imtiaz said his major mistake was his failure to refuse to obey General Beg’s orders. During a subsequent inquiry, General (r) Hameed Gul advised him not to speak against the army chief as that could raise questions about the army, he maintained. Brigadier (r) Imtiaz told the channel that he was retired on the directions of General (r) Naseerullah Babar.

General (r) Asif Nawaz Janjua had suspected Imtiaz of tapping the former’s phone calls, the ex-IB chief said. Imtiaz said stayed quiet throughout his service since he did not want his institution defamed. He said president Ghulam Ishaq had offered him to join his “gang” and offered him privileges, as a cold war for power was raging between Nawaz Sharif and the then president. He said he had been meeting both the leaders and tried bring them together.

The former IB chief said he was also blamed for convincing General (r) Akhtar Abdul Rehman to join then president Ziaul Haq on the flight to Bahawalpur at the eleventh hour, whereas the names of those going to Bahawalpur had already been finalised in the General Headquarters.

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