AFTER completing her paperwork at 1.30 am on November 5, Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was about to retire for the night when she was told that all airports in the country had been sealed. She immediately rang up President Farooq Ahmed Khan Leghari to check whether this was being done on his orders. "Yes, I have decided to dismiss your government and dissolve assemblies under Article 58(2)-B. A written order is on its way to you," came Legharis curt reply.
Thus ended Benazirs second stint in power in eight years. While on both occasions, the main charges were rampant corruption, deteriorating law and order and failing to run the government in accordance with the Constitution, this time Leghari went a step further. He accused the Benazir government of extra-judicial killings, especially in Karachi, her insinuations implicating the Presidency and the armed forces in connection with the murder of Murtaza Bhutto on September 20, and bugging the phone lines of judges and high ranking military and civil officers.
As their Supreme Commander, Legharis action appeared to have the full backing of the armed forces, with troops being deployed at key government installations. Both Benazir and her husband, Asif Zardari, were taken into protective custody. While Benazir was restricted to the Prime Ministers House, Zardari was picked up from Lahore and kept at a resthouse near Rawalpindi.
For a whole day, nobody was allowed to talk to Benazir. Late on November 5, she was allowed to see some of her party leaders. However, she did not receive any news of her husband till the night of November 6. She then threatened that if she was not told about his whereabouts, she would register a kidnapping case against Leghari. Within hours, the authorities took her for a...