Treatment of rank and file members of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) by the army since the 12 October 1999 coup [PAK34038.E]

No information on the treatment by the army of rank and file members of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) since the 12 October 1999 coup could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. The treatment by the army of PML leaders and parliamentarians are discussed further in the Response.

In the early days of the coup, police broke up PML demonstrations and arrested PML workers throughout the country, as can be seen in the following examples. Police baton-charged a pro-Sharif demonstration and arrested a dozen supporters in Karachi (AFP 14 Oct. 1999). Police arrested approximately another 17 PML(N) activists in Hyderabad, Latifabad and Wasimabad sub-divisions, and raided the PML office at Bhai Khan Ki Chari (Dawn 16 Oct. 1999a). In early December 1999 police broke up another pro-Sharif demonstration and arrested about 40 PML workers in Karachi (ibid. 9 Dec. 1999). Protest demonstrations and rallies have been banned (AFP 14 Oct. 1999).

In mid-March 2000 police arrested about 24 PML activists and leaders in Faisalabad for holding an unlawful meeting, making "provocative speeches," and allegedly threatening police officials during the Divisional PML Workers' Convention (Dawn 16 Mar. 2000a; ibid. 22 Mar. 1999). Twelve PML activists were released on 24 March 2000 and bail applications were granted to another 13 PML activists the following day (Business Recorder 24 Mar. 2000; ibid. 25 Mar. 2000). Also in mid-March police raided the homes of PML workers and leaders in Sukkur following a call by Sharif's wife Kulsoom Nawaz to hold demonstrations and rallies protesting the murder of Sharif's counsel Iqbal Raad (Dawn 16 Mar. 2000b). Police also raided the homes of those associated with the Khidamat committees constituted under the Sharif government and other PML workers in Shikarpur and other towns of upper Sindh (ibid.). Police reportedly declined to confirm or deny the "crackdown" (ibid.).

Despite the military coup, however, political parties have not been banned (Dawn 28 Mar. 2000) and continue to function: the day of the coup, the PML held its Lahore division convention but due to poor turn-out, it "flopped" (ibid. 21 Mar. 2000). The PML and other political parties campaigned and contested the early November 1999 party-based elections for the 24-member Northern Areas Legislative Council (NAC) in Azad Kashmir (ibid. 3 Nov. 1999). Unofficial results on 5 November 1999 indicated that the PML had won either five (The Tribune 6 Nov. 1999) or six seats (Dawn 5 Nov. 1999). The PML has also held at least two public meetings at the Muslim League House in Lahore in March 2000 (ibid. 21 Mar. 2000), and a committee constituted by the PML Central working committee will begin to establish contacts with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the MQM, and the ANP and other political parties to "explore the possibility of cooperation for the restoration of democracy" (ibid. 25 Mar. 2000).

The following information relates to the treatment by the army of PML parliamentarians and leaders:

In the early days of the military coup, troops surrounded the official residences of ministers in Islamabad and placed them under house arrest (The Herald Nov. 1999, 27). From 12-17 October the former ministers were permitted to move freely within the minister's enclave in Islamabad but were prevented from leaving (ibid.). On 17 October the majority of ministers were released, although former Information Minister Mushahid Hussain remained under arrest and was later taken for interrogation by the Intelligence Bureau (ibid., 28). Similar scenes were reported across the country in the early days of the coup, and PML leaders were placed under house arrest to prevent them from contacting each other or the press (ibid.). However, the majority of politicians and bureaucrats were released on 17 October 1999 (ibid.). City police assisted military personnel in carrying out raids in Lahore and Sukkur in the search for PML members, leaders and MPAs (Dawn 14 Oct. 1999a; ibid. 16 Oct. 1999b). Over 50 PML leaders and workers were arrested in Sukkur (ibid.). Troops also surrounded the residences of several PML leaders in Gujranwala and appeared to place them under house arrest (ibid. 14 Oct. 1999b). In Malakand, police kept the residences of former PML parliamentarians under watch and police jawans [soldiers] prevented PML(N) workers from meeting their detained leaders (ibid. 16 Oct. 1999c). Raids were also carried out to arrest PML leaders and workers in Rohri, Ghotki and Daharki, but that since the majority had already gone underground, the police allegedly arrested their relatives instead, also intensifying their patrolling in those areas (ibid. 16 Oct. 1999b). Furthermore, the army prevented approximately 400 PML leaders from leaving the country (DPA 14 Oct. 1999). In mid-December 1999 the army took into custody former Information Minister Mushahid Hussain and former Petroleum Minister Choudhury Nisar Ali Khan after they had spent more than two months under house arrest (The Tribune 16 Dec. 1999).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Agence France Presse (AFP). 14 October 1999. "Pakistan Police Break Up First Pro-Sharif Protest." (NEXIS)

Business Recorder [Lahore/Karachi]. 25 March 2000. "Another 13 Pakistan Muslim League Workers Bailed Out." [Accessed 27 Mar. 2000]

_____. 24 March 2000. "Pakistan Muslim League Workers Released." [Accessed 28 Mar. 2000]

Dawn [Karachi]. 28 March 2000. "Ban on Political Parties Ruled out." [Accessed 28 Mar. 2000]

_____. 25 March 2000. "PML Move for Contacts With Other Parties." [Accessed 27 Mar. 2000]

_____. 22 March 2000. "Faisalabad: PML Leaders, Workers in Faisalabad Face Arrest." [Accessed 22 Mar. 2000]

_____. 21 March 2000. "Pakistan Muslim League to Hold Public Meeting on 23rd." [Accessed 21 Mar. 2000]

_____. 16 March 2000a. "Provocative Speeches: Two Dozen PML Men Arrested." [Accessed 16 Mar. 2000]

_____. 16 March 2000b. "Sukkur: Pakistan Muslim League Men Go Underground Amid Raids." [Accessed 16 Mar. 2000]

_____. 9 December 1999. "PML Men, Women Baton Charged, Arrested." http://www/ [Accessed 10 Dec. 1999]

_____. 5 November 1999. "PPP, PML Get Six Seats Each in NAC Polls." [Accessed 5 Nov. 1999]

_____. 3 November 1999. "All Set For Northern Areas Legislative Council Polls Today. [Accessed 3 Nov. 1999]

_____. 16 October 1999a. "Police Launch Crackdown: 11 PML Men Arrested in Hyderabad." [Accessed 19 Oct. 1999]

_____. 16 October 1999b. "Over 50 Held in Sukkur." [Accessed 19 Oct. 1999]

_____. 16 October 1999c. "PML Men in Malakand Under Vigilance." [Accessed 19 Oct. 1999]

_____. 14 October 1999a. "Lahore: Police Join Troops in Hunt for Top Leaguers." [Accessed 14 Oct. 1999]

_____. 14 October 1999b. "Gujranwala: Troops Detain PML Leaders in Gujranwala." [Accessed 14 Oct. 1999]

Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA). 14 October 1999. BC Cycle. "Heavy Hand of Army Falls on Men Close to Ousted Pakistan Premier." (LEXIS)

The Herald [Karachi]. November 1999. Vol. 30, No. 11. Syed Ali Dayan Hasan. "Under Arrest."

The Tribune [Chandigarh]. 16 December 1999. "2 Ex-Pak Ministers in Army Custody." [Accessed 16 Dec. 1999]

_____. 6 November 1999. "Muslim League Wins 5 Seats in PoK." [Accessed 10 Nov. 1999]

Additional Sources Consulted

Dawn [Karachi]. 6 January 1999. "The Year [1998] at Home."

The Herald [Karachi]. Monthly. October 1999-February 2000.

Immigration and Nationality (IND), Home Office, UK. September 1999. Pakistan Assessment. Version 4.

IRB Databases.


Research Directorate. IMR [Ottawa]. Weekly. October 1999-March 2000.

Resource Centre. "Pakistan" country file. October 1999-March 2000.

Search engines, including:





Non-documentary sources:

Unsuccessful attempts to contact the PML in Lahore and Rawalpindi.