Relatives of a former top Pakistan army general have rejected as false reports he died while fighting alongside anti-American forces in Afghanistan or Syria.
Pakistani television stations and newspapers have aired and published stories identifying the army officer as retired Lt. General Shahid Aziz.
The reports cited family sources as saying Aziz left the country “many months ago” for Afghanistan “to compensate for what he had done in favor of U.S. troops” and was killed there.
Pakistan’s former military chief, self-exiled Pervez Musharaf, last week spoke to a local television channel claiming “some people” told him Aziz had grown a long beard and gone to Syria and had been killed there.
But on Sunday, Aziz’s son vehemently rejected and denounced the reported claims.
“Since Gen. Shahid Aziz lives a very private life and does not want public appearances or information regarding his travels/Tableegh (religious preaching), such hearsay regarding his whereabouts are spread,” Zeeshan Aziz told VOA.
Aziz retired in 2005 after serving with the Pakistan army for 37 years. While Musharraf was the military chief, Aziz had been promoted to be the director general of military operations and the chief of the general staff.
Musharraf has been living in exile, avoiding appearances in several court cases pending against him, including charges of murder and treason. Aziz also authored a book after his retirement in which he criticized policies of the former army chief.
Allegations that Pakistan’s military covertly supports Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan in launching attacks against U.S. and Afghan forces have been a primary source of Islamabad’s tensions with Kabul and the United States.
Pakistani leaders reject those charges, saying they are baseless and politically motivated. Officials maintain the country has rendered "unprecedented" sacrifices and has suffered tens of thousands of deaths of its citizens, including security forces in the war on terrorism, and in helping international efforts to stabilize Afghanistan.