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OCTOBER 19, 1998 VOL. 152 NO. 15

It isn't clear how deep resentment in the military runs. Karamat, nicknamed the "Consensus Man" by fellow officers, was not acting alone when he confronted Nawaz Sharif, according to military sources. He consulted the army's corps commanders, for example, who reportedly pushed him to intervene. Musharraf, by breaking ranks with other generals to take the job, may have increased restiveness inside the military. With Pakistan already technically in default on its international debts, funds for the military--which swallows about 40% of the government's budget--are slowing to a trickle. Moreover, the army isn't happy with Nawaz Sharif's interference inside the barracks. Last year, the Prime Minister altered the constitution, giving himself the power to appoint the army chief (which is why he was able to get rid of Karamat).

The controversy has aroused Pakistani passions. Many had welcomed Karamat's challenge. Displeasure with the government has grown amid new allegations in a British Sunday newspaper, The Observer, that Nawaz Sharif and his family have stashed away more than $70 million in offshore accounts and taken long-term leases on several flats in London's posh Mayfair district. The claims, later denied by Nawaz Sharif, followed the Prime Minister's decision to freeze foreign currency accounts across the country, wiping out ordinary Pakistanis' dollar savings. The move hit the coddled military elite--who like to send their sons and daughters to foreign universities--especially hard. Karamat's challenge had won support from nearly all opposition groups, including ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party. Even senior members of Nawaz Sharif's own Pakistan Muslim League publicly conceded that the military's offer might represent Pakistan's only escape from its growing turmoil.

By stripping the generals of their might, Nawaz Sharif may in the process be weakening his own ability to cope with Pakistan's mounting ills. Cautions Maleeha Lodhi, editor of The News, a national daily: "The crisis in Pakistan has so many dimensions that no single institution can solve this." The former military chief, as one newspaper commented, offered his help as a friend, not an enemy. Having refused him, the besieged Prime Minister may soon find himself surrounded by enemies--and very few friends.

Reported by Ghulam Hasnain/Karachi and Syed Talat Hussain/Islamabad

PAGE 1  |  2  

This edition's table of contents | TIME Asia home



U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness

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