A controversy is raging over the internet on the rather persistent asking of a TV reporter from the former COAS General Aslam Beg Mirza if he would return the ‘Democracy” medal given to the army by the late BB, as he had subsequently conspired to bring down the BB’s democratic government through Mehran Bank scandal. However, under the changed environs when the wind is blowing against the general, we tend to forget the chain of events under which General Beg had helped restore true democracy and consequent to his such efforts BB had issued the medal to all in the armed forces.  I hope we remember that in the 1988 general elections no single party had a clear majority to form the government and a coalition was in the offing. PPP had won 93 seats and the MLN only 54 seats. There were plenty of independents, FATA members and other smaller parties all eager to join any government. Somehow GIK and a few others were not for the PPP and were seriously thinking of offering MNS to form the coalition.  And, the rationale being given was of a similar situation in India where Rajiv with more seats had conceded to VP Singh to form the coalition government with lesser number of seats. Only Gen Beg wanted the majority party – irrespective of who – to form the government. He, therefore, held a one to one close door meeting with the BB for more than a hour in the late evening at the GHQ, during which he offered to support BB in forming the govt. and in return asked for three promises;  One.  Not to take any revenge from Gen. Zia’s family for hanging ZAB. Two. Not to interfere unduly with the army and Three. Co-operate and pull on with GIK for the smooth running of the democracy in the country.  BB Agreed and Gen. Beg put his foot down that the party with the maximum seats had the first option of forming the coalition and so it was.
Gen. Beg was the man who ensured proper democracy by making BB the PM and it was rather unfair on the part of the reporter to pester the General for returning the Democracy Medal.
COL. RIAZ JAFRI (RETD),
Rawalpindi, February 22.