IN FAIRNESS TO PERVEZ MUSHARRAFSeptember 1, 2009
By Mr. Ahmad Subhani
Visit any TV channel or go through the print media, the hot topic under discussion is Pervez Musharraf’s trial for breaching the Constitution. Most vocal in this campaign is Mian Nawaz Sharif and his coterie. The pertinent question that comes to mind is, that it was not the first time that it has happened, quite a few dignitaries before him had also done the same. Why then he is singled out for retribution? Various platitudes have been put forward to justify this demand; yet the crux of the matter is that it is a simple case of personal vendetta mounted by Nawaz Sharif’s bruised ego against Pervez Musharraf who ousted him from power on October 12, 1999 when the plane bringing Musharraf from Sri Lanka was not allowed to land anywhere in Pakistan and plane’s crash was imminent since it had run short of fuel. However the tragedy was averted at the last moment by army’s intervention. This led to Musharraf taking over the reins of the Govt. They call it “coup”; in reality, it was a case of self-preservation or retaliation on the part of the wronged party (Musharraf). Had he not taken that step, Musharraf would have been eliminated from the scene, altogether.
Apart from above, certain other charges have also been levelled against Musharraf. Of these, Kargal war, Dr. Qadeer Khan’s case and participation in War on Terrorism have been dealt quite adequately by Musharraf in his speeches and statements and also in his memoirs (”In the Line of Fire”). I therefore need not touch said topics here. My considered view on the remaining important charges follows. Before proceeding further, I would like to affirm that those persons who know him from close quarters, would testify, that Musharraf is a truthful and straight forward man, therefore, there is no reason to doubt the veracity of events as described by him in his speeches/statements and memoirs.
In Lal Masjid’s case, action taken by the Govt. was unavoidable. Inmates of that Masjid, had repeatedly violated the law of the land through a series of illegal and immoral activities, thereby challenging the writ of the State. They were repeatedly warned to mend their ways, but to no avail. Besides creating serious law and order situation, their hooliganism was earning bad name for the country and it’s Govt., nationally and inter-nationally. Protracted negotiations carried out with the clerics of Lal Masjid proved futile owing to rigid and non- conciliatory attitude of the die- hard mullahs. Govt. had to take action as a last resort as no other option was left.
In chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry’s case, a reference was filed by the President with the Supreme Judicial Council involving C.J.’s misconduct concerning illegitimate favours doled out to his son. The reference was in order legally but the case was not properly handled. The lapse provided the politicized lawyers an opportunity to resort to strike and indulge in street agitation and boycott the courts. The reference in question was turned down by a bench of the Supreme Court, but they failed to deliver a detailed judgement in support of their ruling in the case. This queer and uncharitable attitude of the Court is incomprehensible. The lawyers’ movement was soon high jacked by the Opposition, spearheaded by Muslim League (Nawaz).The event led to politicization of the legal community including the superior judiciary.
Other important allegations leveled against Pervez Musharraf are: promulgation of PCO and NRO in November, 2007. Issuance of PCO was un-constitutional and was admitted so by the President himself and was, later on rescinded. In respect of NRO, according to press reports, it was issued as a result of understanding reached between President Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto; but latter’s sudden assassination, torpedoed the whole scheme. The funny thing about said NRO is, that those who had criticized Musharraf before February,18 elections, for not allowing the self-exiled leaders to return and participate in elections, are now criticizing him for letting these failed politicians back (because of said NRO) , after seeing their disappointing performance from February, 18 onwards.
After having dwelt on the negative aspects related to the subject under review, let us now turn to its positive side;
When Pervez Musharraf took over in 1999, the economy of the country was in real bad shape, so much so, that the previous Govt. had gone to the extent of begging money from the masses under, ”Mulk Sawaro, Qarz Utaro” Scheme. However, there is no trace available, where all those donations disappeared. Foreign exchange reserves with the Govt., were hardly enough to pay for six weeks’ imports and the country was on the verge of being declared a failed state. Musharraf took up the challenge and managed the economy so deftly and speedily that within few years, Pakistan accumulated $ 16.7 billion reserves; exports exceeded $ 17 billion; home remittances by expatriates surged to 6 billion and there was no longer any dependence on international donors. In short, within a span of 7 years, Musharraf transformed the sagging economy of Pakistan into one of the most robust emerging economies of the region. It is agreed on all hands, that his foremost contribution to Pakistan is his economic reforms that brought remarkable stability to the country. Under his stewardship, record number of projects were started and completed. The I.T. and Communication Revolution, goes to his credit. Being a visionary, he brought about a revolution in the higher education sector where budget that was reeling at Rs. 200 million in 1999, touched a record ceiling of Rs. 20 billion in 2007. It is worth mentioning that during his tenure, Pakistan got rid of the I.M.F. and its rating improved considerably as also acknowledged by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. No doubt, certain imbalances also crept in at the far end of his tenure, due mainly to world-wide food inflation and constant rise in international oil prices and partly due to lapse on the part of our administration in controlling hoarding and smuggling of food items.
Syed Jawaid Iqbal, Chairman, C.M.C, in an interview (courtesy, Pakistan Observer, dated-23-9-2009), said, that he had interviewed Pervez Musharraf on his resuming office of the Chief Executive of Pakistan. He says that on the eve of his conducting the interview, he was told by the then Information Minister, Javed Jabbar, that there would be no advance briefing or questions. He was given free hand to ask whatever he wanted to, on any subject or issue. This was an amazing stance which made Jawaid Iqbal respect Musharraf immensely. He stated that those who know Musharraf personally, respect him for his statesmanship, conviction, nationalism and above all, his selflessness towards Pakistan. Jawaid further says that Musharraf has a charismatic personality, and courage to say “no” even at some of the most crucial junctures.
While Musharraf may be called a “dictator”, it is his democratic policies that have made the maximum contribution to his un–popularity. For instance, he gave the media its long awaited freedom. The media while using its unbridled freedom, found an easy target in a tolerant and democratic minded military ruler. The sold-out media that he opened up to show his dedication to the cause of democracy, chose him to be its favourite target. He is patriot to the core and is not corrupt like most politicians and previous rulers. He is a visionary leader and World acknowledges this fact. World’s top universities and fora invite him to deliver lectures at their venues. He has created a sense of patriotism in the country and his slogan “Pakistan First” is a clear manifestation of that. He is a tolerant person and believes in freedom of speech as duly exhibited by him during his tenure. His sterling qualities are; his humility and frankness. He has tackled national problems admirably.
At present, he is the only living Pakistani leader known the World over and is held in high esteem. He speaks in unequivocal terms and has the courage of conviction. He is the only “dictator” to have fulfilled his promises he made:–shedding of uniform, lifting of emergency, holding of free and fair elections and unconditional acceptance of election results. Unlike the past elections, no body has complained about “rigged” or” engineered” elections. He is also credited with setting up the freest media in Pakistan’s history. Lastly, he got himself elected under the same democratic rules that he gave his adversaries to come up through.
As elaborated above, Pervez Musharraf has done so much for Pakistan, as no body before him had done, rather he left each of them far behind. The irony is, how the nation has rewarded its benefactor. At a time, when Pakistan has reached a critical stage, in as much as, it has been declared one of the failed states of the World due to un-precedented melt down in its economy and dismal performance in other sectors, look at Nawaz Sharif, who is bent upon avenging his defeat at Musharraf’s hands unmindful of the fact that he himself was solely responsible for the dastardly act that he enacted on October 12, 1999. To-day, it seems that the entire political system is hostage to one man’s revenge. For the ruling junta, particularly Nawaz Sharif, there has been left no other problem to tackle except to persecute Pervez Musharraf. Prudence demands from all of us that we put aside our personal differences and acrimonies and unite, to face and overcome the grave challenges that the nation is facing, internally and externally. That seems to be the only way out of the present all encompassing crises, which is getting worse with each passing day.