On Feb 5th, 2023 Sunday, Gen. Pervez Musharraf passed away. Musharraf led a peaceful coup that brought him to power and eventually persuaded a reluctant Pakistan to support the U.S. war in Afghanistan against the Taliban. He was 79.
Musharraf was the middle son of a diplomat when he was born on August 11, 1943, in New Delhi. When predominantly Hindu India and Islamic Pakistan split during their independence from Britain in 1947, his family and millions of other Muslims fled west. During the Partition, riots, and fighting resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.
Musharraf joined the Pakistani army when he was 18 years old, where he made a name for himself as Islamabad waged three wars against India. In 1999, just before he took power from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, he had made his own attempt to gain territory in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.
Even though Musharraf's plane was running low on fuel, Sharif denied him permission to land in Pakistan when he flew home from Sri Lanka. The army took control on the ground, and when Musharraf landed, he took charge.
However, according to U.S. diplomats at the time, Musharraf was close to a deal with India regarding Kashmir while he was in power. Additionally, he worked toward reconciliation with Pakistan's longtime rival.
Musharraf, a former commando in the Special Forces, was elected president in the final of a series of military coups that have engulfed Pakistan since the country was founded during the bloody 1947 partition of India. After his coup in 1999, he ruled the nuclear-armed state through tensions with India, an atomic proliferation scandal, and an insurgency led by Islamic extremists. In 2008, he resigned amid the possibility of impeachment.
In later years, Musharraf attempted a political comeback in 2012 but ended up living in self-imposed exile in Dubai to avoid criminal charges. However, his final years were marked by poor health. After avoiding a violent death that always seemed to be following him as Islamic militants twice targeted him for assassination, he maintained a soldier's fatalism.
In June 2022, Musharraf's family announced that he had amyloidosis, an incurable condition in which proteins build up in the organs, and had been hospitalized for several weeks in Dubai. Amyloidosis can be caused by cancer of the bone marrow.
Pakistan's border with Afghanistan would soon attract the United States' attention and dominate Musharraf's life less than two years after he took power.
Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaida, launched the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, from Afghanistan, where he was protected by the Taliban. Musharraf was aware of the next move.
In his autobiography, he wrote, "America was sure to react violently, like a wounded bear." That wounded bear would charge straight at us if the perpetrator turned out to be al-Qaida.
The world taught that Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan, who had been associated with the country's atomic bomb for a long time, had been making tens of millions of dollars by selling centrifuge designs and other secrets to countries like Iran, Libya, and North Korea. This led to another major scandal under his administration. Khan's centrifuges still spin in Iran despite the collapse of Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers, and those designs assisted Pyongyang in arming itself with nuclear weapons.
Musharraf stated that he had suspicions about Khan, but it wasn't until 2003 that he realized how serious the situation was when then-CIA director George Tenet showed him detailed plans for a Pakistani centrifuge that the scientist had been selling.
In 2004, Khan confessed on state television, and Musharraf granted him pardon, though he remained under house arrest thereafter.
Musharraf subsequently wrote, "For years, A.Q.'s lavish lifestyle and stories of his wealth, properties, corrupt practices, and financial magnanimity at the expense of the state were generally all too well known in Islamabad's social and government circles." These, on the other hand, were largely ignored. That neglect appeared to be a serious error in hindsight.
In the end, Musharraf's domestic support dwindled. He held defective races in late 2002 — solely after changing the constitution to give himself clearing powers to sack the top state leader and parliament. The promise he had made to step down as army chief by the end of 2004 was then broken.
When Musharraf ordered a raid on the Red Mosque in the heart of Islamabad in 2007, he sparked even more violent resentment. Militants who were opposed to Pakistan's support for the Afghan war used it as a haven. Over 100 people perished during the weeklong operation.
The incident did a lot to damage Musharraf's reputation among ordinary people and made him a target of militants whose retaliatory attacks continued after the raid.
Musharraf fired the Supreme Court's chief justice out of fear that the judiciary would oppose his rule. That sparked massive protests.
Musharraf resigned as army chief in response to domestic and international pressure to restore civilian rule. Musharraf faced a major crisis following the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in December 2007 at a campaign rally as she attempted to become prime minister for the third time, even though he won another five-year term as president.
The public believed that Musharraf was involved in the killing, but he denied it. A subsequent report from the United Nations said that while the Pakistani Taliban were the main suspects in her death, Pakistan's intelligence services might have been involved.
After coalition officials threatened to have Musharraf impeached for imposing emergency rule and firing judges, Musharraf resigned as president in August 2008.
In his televised address, Musharraf, struggling with his emotions, stated, "I hope the nation and the people will forgive my mistakes."
After that, he attempted a political comeback in 2012, living in Dubai and London. However, Pakistan instead detained and placed the former general under house arrest. In addition to charges related to the Red Mosque raid and Bhutto's assassination, he was accused of treason for the Supreme Court mess.
Pakistan, where military generals have long been regarded as above the law, was shocked to see Musharraf treated like a criminal suspect. He was given bail to leave Pakistan in 2016 for medical treatment in Dubai, where he remained after his death sentence was overturned.
However, it suggested that Pakistan might be prepared to end its long period of military rule.
Patterson, the U.S. ambassador at the time, wrote at the time, "Musharraf’s resignation is a sad but familiar story of hubris, this time in a soldier who never became a good politician."
The good news is that the media's demonstrated strength, free elections, civil society, and the institutions that brought Musharraf down also provide some hope for Pakistan's future. Ironically, his administration made these institutions much stronger.
Here, we will discuss some of the achievements during the tenure of General Pervez Musharraf:
· Pakistan's liberalization, deregulation, and privatization policies were consistent and favorable during his reign.
· Economic recovery, institutional reform, and sound governance were our declared priorities.
· The Government's two-pronged strategy for economic recovery included implementing structural reforms for self-sustaining growth and ensuring macroeconomic stability.
· Consequently, over the past four years, the economy had grown at an annual average rate of 7%. In the years 2004-2005, its growth reached a record high of 9%.
· Large-scale manufacturing saw an average annual growth rate of 11.31 percent from 2000 to 2007, up from 3.6% in 1999-2000. The highest rate of growth for this industry was 19.9% in 2004-2005.
· Women's empowerment at all levels of government and legislature. "Women Protection Bill," legislation to prevent honor killings was introduced.
· Minorities' empowerment through a joint electorate and reserved seats.
· Empowerment of younger people by lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 years old.
· Empowering the media by allowing the circulation of information and complete press and printing freedom.
· Economic empowerment through extensive economic reforms.
· Empowerment of individuals at the local level through devolution.
· In 2000, 102 major projects in various fields were started.
· The Makran Coastal Highway, the Lowari Tunnel, the Pindi Bhattian – Faisalabad Motorway (M-3), the Karachi Northern Bypass, the Mirani Dam, the Raising of Mangla Dam, the Gomal Zam Dam, the Sabakzai Dam, the Satpara Dam, the Kachhi Canal, the Rainee Canal, the Greater Thal Canal, the Gwadar Port, the Lining of Watercourses, the Mansehra-Naran.
· Since then, six projects with costs ranging from Rs. 1 to 5 billion have been completed.
· Six projects were being worked on, including the raising of Mangla Dam, the Lyari Expressway, and the first 4 MW unit of Satpara Dam, which was getting close to being finished.
· On March 7, 2002, the National Policy for the Development and Empowerment of Women was announced. A lengthy and in-depth consultation process resulted in the formulation of this policy, which included a vision as well as clearly defined goals, aims, and objectives.
· Reservation of 20 percent of women's seats in the National Assembly (of the 60 reserved seats, 72 were held by women).
· "Reservation of 18% of Senate seats for women" (there were 17 women senators).
· The reservation of seats for women in the Provincial Assemblies (there were 128 reserved seats and 139 women members of the Provincial Assemblies).
· The fact that there were six women in the Federal Cabinet at the time was a significant step toward expanding the role of women in national decision-making. The State Bank's Governor is a woman.
· A reservation of 33% of seats in all levels of local government for women.
· There had been an increase of approximately 20,000 registered doctors, approximately 3,000 registered dentists, approximately 15,000 nurses, and approximately 56,000 female health workers during his tenure. This workforce's quantity, quality, and distribution were being improved.
· Health indicators had shown steady improvement from 2000 to 2008.
· During this time, a lot of new health initiatives, like the Expanded Program of Immunization, were launched; Program for Polio Eradication; Program for the Prevention and Control of Hepatitis; Program for Prevention and Control; National Program for the Health of Mothers and Children; and the Program for National Nutrition.
Despite the numerous claims that were made about Musharraf, we as a nation express our gratitude to him for his kindness to Pakistan and pray for his soul.