Pakistan needs Musharraf-EXCLUSIVESeptember 15, 2009
Written by Mr. Ahmad Subhani
The then little known Pervez Musharraf, the Army Chief, emerged on the political horizon of Pakistan on October 12, 1999, by default, as circumstances forced him to take over the reins of the government The state of affairs prevalent at that time was extremely worrisome. Almost all state institutions had stood ruined. Economy, in particular, was in tatters—-Pakistan was on the verge of being declared a ‘ failed state’.
Since the year 1988, four notables of the country, who have held the reins of power are: Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif, Pervez Musharraf and Asif Ali Zardari. Having gone through their tenures, a bird’s eye view account of their performance is given as under:–
PPP leader, Benazir Bhutto, held the office of the prime minister twice—1988 to 1990 and 1993 to 1996. On both occasions, she was dismissed from office by the then Presidents on charges of corruption, mismanagement and incompetence. President Ghulam Ishaq Khan also alleged, that Benazir had a close friendship with Rajev Gandhi; had links with RAW and she had betrayed the Sikh cause by providing names of important Sikh leaders to the Indian Govt. As per press reports, in accordance with her negotiated power sharing deal with President Pervez Musharraf, she was granted amnesty and by virtue of NRO, all charges against her, including amassing of mammoth ill-gotten riches, were withdrawn. Unfortunately, she was assassinated soon after her return to Pakistan in December, 2007. The oft-repeated claim of PPP, including Benazir Bhutto, that they had promoted democracy in the country, is a complete hoax; she never conducted in-party elections—-nomination was the norm; she accepted life-Chairmanship of the party without any hesitation and in her “will”, she nominated her husband to be her successor, as if it was a dynastic rule. Democracy was thus confined merely to holding of general elections.
Nawaz Sharif also held the post of the Prime Minister twice—-from 1990 to 1993 and from 1997 to 1999. In 1993, he was dismissed by the President on charges of corruption, nepotism and incompetence. In 1999, he was ousted by the then Army Chief Pervez Musharraf, when he tried to get rid of him by not allowing his plane to land anywhere in Pakistan Before that, Nawaz got rid of former Army Chief, General Jahangir Kramat and former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He has often claimed of having promoted democracy, independent judiciary and freedom of press in the country. His” love” for “freedom of judiciary, reminds us of the attack by his cronies and goons on the Supreme Court in1997-98, where his case of misconduct was being heard .He repeatedly acted against the spirit of democracy by enacting oppressive laws like, “Ehtisab Accountability Law” and “Anti terrorism Act”. He curbed press freedom by promulgating “Registration of Printing Press and Publication Ordinance 1977” Foreign Currency Accounts were frozen which drastically undermined the domestic and foreigners’ confidence and led to withdrawal of 13 billion dollars from the FACS, in no time. All economic, social and security parameters had been relegated to their worst ever position.
Taking into consideration the period from 1988 to 1999, it is note-worthy that the “democratic” governments of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif held five elections during this period, but none of the governments could complete its term, mainly due the intolerance and undemocratic attitude of its leaders… Both the top leaders never accepted the results of the elections. Not only that, both of them accused each other of being “security risk” for the country. Under these trying circumstances, Pervez Musharraf assumed power on October 12, 1999 and as stated earlier, Pakistan was on the brink of disaster then. He accepted the challenge and with great effort and skilful handling, placed its derailed economy back on the track.
A leader is judged by what he delivers. Let us have an idea, what Pervez Musharraf has delivered in his 8-year stint in office. Pakistan economy grew by 100% to become $ 160 billion. Per Capita income grew by 100% to become $ 925. Foreign Reserves grew by 500 % to become $ 17 billion. Exports grew by 100% to become $ 18.5 billion. Direct Foreign Investment grew by 500% to become 8 billion. Poverty decreased by 10 % to become 24%.In 2006, Pakistan was the third fastest growing economy in the World and a preferred destination for investors. During his tenure, record number of projects were started and completed. Higher Education Sector budget that was mere Rs. 200 million in 1999, shot up to Rs.20 billion in 2007. During his tenure, Pakistan got out of IMF’s hold and its remarkable progress was acknowledged also by the World Bank, IMF and Asian Development Bank. Few adverse factors too came into play near to the end of his reign, due mainly to worldwide food inflation and constant rise in international oil prices. Lapses on the part of Administration also partly contributed to this fiasco since it failed to control hoarding and smuggling of food items. In aggregate, Musharraf has done much more for Pakistan than anyone else had done ever.
As regards his personal qualities, those who know him from close quarters would affirm that as a person, he is honest, straightforward, tolerant and humble. As a ruler, he has exhibited sterling qualities such as, statesmanship, courage, patriotism and incorruptibility. This explains why he has accomplished so much in so little a time. In common parlance, he is called a dictator, yet viewed in the light of his ways of working and behaving, he is far more democratic than most of his so-called democratic adversaries. In fact, it is his democratic policies that have made him unpopular. For instance, he granted un-fettered freedom to the media but media used its new-found freedom in making Musharraf its foremost target. He is he is the only dictator, who has fulfilled the promises he made; shedding of uniform, lifting of emergency, holding of free and fair elections and unconditionally accepting results of the elections. At present, he is the only living Pakistani leader known the World-over and is held in high esteem. He speaks in unequivocal terms with conviction.
Certain allegations have been levelled against him by his opponents. Of these, Kargel War episode, Dr. Qadeer Khan’s case and participation in War on Terrorism have been dealt with, at length, by Pervez Musharraf in his speeches and memoirs (In the Line of Fire). In Lal Masjid’s case, action taken by the Govt. was unavoidable as no Govt. worth its name, could tolerate repeated violations of its writ by miscreants, who persistently indulged in unlawful and immoral activities. In Chief Justice I. M. Chaudhry’s case, reference against him was filed by Musharraf with the Supreme Judicial Council on charge of misconduct involving illegitimate favours extended to his son. The Supreme Court issued a short order dismissing the reference, but the detailed judgment is still awaited! The said case against the C.J., was mishandled and was fully exploited by the politicized lawyers who resorted to street agitation etc. The lawyers’ movement was high jacked by the Opposition, led by Nawaz Sharif’s Muslim League. Nawab Akber Bughti’s murder was a simple case blown out of all proportion. He was killed in a military action when Govt. repelled his sponsored terrorist activity launched by his followers who were destroying national assets like, Sui gas installations, railway tracks, bridges etc. Promulgation of PCO and NRO in November, 2007, has also been objected to. As admitted by Pervez Musharraf himself, the PCO issued was unconstitutional, and was rescinded. As for NRO, this was a conciliatory gesture initiated by the President, which, in fact, enabled the present ruling parties’ heavy weights to return from their self imposed exile from abroad and participate in the ensuing elections, which they readily did.
Pervez Musharraf resigned on August 18, 2008 and the PPP Co- Chairman, Asif Ali Zardari took over.The newly elected PPP Govt. has been in place for the last more than an year and a half. Its performance, under the custodianship of Zardari, can best be described as unmitigated disaster. All economic indicators that had been made positive during Mushrraf’s regime have turned negative. The economy has deteriorated so fast and to such an extent, that Pakistan has been declared as one of the failed states of the World. Sky rocketing inflation, ever mounting unemployment, rapidly deteriorating law and order situation , never ending energy crisis—lately joined by flour and sugar crisis, have all rendered the life of the common man miserable. The change of Govt. has proved catastrophic for the nation. This abysmal down slide is the cumulative effect of rampant corruption, all pervading nepotism, gross incompetence and worst governance. It appears that the attention and energies of the ruling class are exclusively focused on grabbing more and more power and pelf through all conceivable means. In this mad race, they have sidelined the masses, who are now being fed on false promises. For a common man, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. The “begging bowl”, that was broken during Musharraf’s reign, has been resurrected and the Govt.’s emissaries are roaming all over the World seeking aid from every Tom, Dick and Harry. What a reversal of fortunes indeed! President Zardari is himself leading the charade nonchalantly and unabashedly. Moreover, he has miserably failed to live up to the expectations of the nation in all spheres of national activity.
Pervez Musharraf has on many an occasion, opened up his mind saying, that Pakistan is his first priority. If it is so, won’t he take care of his forlorn baby? Everybody realizes that the gigantic task ahead for resurrecting the country’s devastated economy and rehabilitating its crippled institutions, is a far more difficult and exacting job now than was the case in 1999, yet a devoted and determined statesman like him, I am sure, has the acumen and capability to meet the challenges coming ahead, undauntedly. He is the only ray of hope for this forsaken nation. I trust, he will respond to this clarion call, at the earliest possible. Wish him God speed.