Who are Pakistan's new rulers?

November 10, 1999

By Dr Amjad Ayub

On October 29, Pakistan's new "chief executive", General Pervaiz Musharraf, set up a seven-member National Security Council (NSC) to oversee the running of the country. Contrary to his early claims, none of the council members are "non-aligned".

Apart from the chiefs of the navy and air force, other permanent members include Sharifuddin Pirzada, Dr Mohammed Yaqub, Attiya Anayatullah and Imtiaz Sahibzada.

Pirzada was prominent during the first military dictatorship of General Ayub Khan; he was appointed as foreign minister in 1966 after Zulfikar Ali Bhutto resigned from the post. Pirzada was picked up once again by the brutal military dictator Zia ul-Haq and served him as attorney-general.

Anayatullah also served under General Zia ul-Haq, as minister for social welfare and population control.

Yaqub, the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, is a former International Monetary Fund official and was brought to the State Bank from the IMF during the first Nawaz Sharif government in the early 1990s. During Yaqub's tenure as governor, the rupee lost more than 50% of its value, budget deficits soared and the foreign currency accounts were frozen.

Sahibzada retired as a cabinet secretary in 1997.

Other significant appointments include a former World Bank director for Central Asia, Dr Ishrat Hussain, as the new governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, to replace Dr Yaqub.

A three-member strong cabinet has also been announced, comprising Abdus Sattar, Shauket Aziz and Aziz A. Munshi.

Sattar, who served as foreign minister in the pro-IMF government of caretaker Moin Qureshi in 1993, enjoys the same portfolio in the dictator Musharraf's council. Sattar is a member of the executive committee of the Justice Party, led by the right-wing playboy Imran Khan. Sattar is the only member of the new council who belongs to a political party, but he is expected to resign from Imran's party before he takes office this week.

The portfolio of finance goes to the vice-president of the New York-based Citibank, Shaukat Aziz. He arrived in Islamabad on November 4 to take up the new assignment.

The new attorney-general of Pakistan is Aziz Munshi. He was appointed to office twice before, by Zia ul-Haq and by the first Nawaz Sharif government.

Musharraf has kept the power to hire and fire any member of the council or cabinet. He has already said that it might take him at least two years to even set a timetable for the return for democracy.

Meanwhile, he plans to start introducing "accountability" and a huge list of cosmetic reforms. But the hidden agenda is to implement the IMF's structural adjustment program.

[Amjad Ayub is the Labour Party Pakistan's representative in London.]

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