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PR Short Notes


Photo Source: Dawn

Pakistan Reader# 553, 6 February 2023

The ‘saviour general’: General Pervez Musharraf



From military to politics, Gen Musharraf has left back a substantial legacy in Pakistani history

Abigail Miriam Fernandez

On 5 February 2023, General Pervez Musharraf passed away after a long battle with a rare health condition called amyloidosis. Musharraf served as the army chief for almost nine years between 1999-2008 and also became the 10th president of Pakistan in 2001 and held the position until early 2008. He was born in pre-partitioned India in 1943 and later settled in Karachi. He joined the Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul and graduated from the institution in 1964. Later he was commissioned into the Pakistan Army. He was promoted to the rank of general and named army chief in October 1998 under then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Musharraf’s turn to politics
A year later, troops took over the Prime Minister's House after then PM Nawaz Sharif prevented Musharraf from landing at Karachi airport on his journey back from Sri Lanka. Following this, Musharraf declared a state of emergency, suspended the Constitution and assumed the role of chief executive. Later in June 2001, Musharraf became the president of Pakistan. Throughout his presidency, Musharraf held general elections under Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal alliance in which he secured the required two-thirds majority to pass the 17th Amendment helping him legitimise the 1999 coup as well as several other measures adopted by him. He also entered into an alliance with the US’s ‘war on terror.’

Later in 2004, Musharraf won a confidence vote in both the houses of the parliament and the four provincial assemblies and was declared elected in a process disputed by his political opponents. His political career began to take a turn after he suspended then-chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry after the latter refused to resign over abusing his office. Later, Supreme Court reinstated the chief justice and declared Musharraf’s suspension of the former as void, following which Musharraf declared a state of emergency. However, within 25 days of the emergency in place, Musharraf resigned from his position of army chief and was given the chance to voluntarily resign after the PPP-led coalition formed the government in 2008. Later,, Musharraf launched his political party — All Pakistan Muslim League (APML).

He later moved to Dubai for medical treatment but never returned back to Pakistan. Later in 2019, a special court handed Musharraf a death sentence in the high treason case, six years after the trial started. However, the Lahore High Court declared unconstitutional all actions taken by the previous government against Musharraf leading to the abolition of the death penalty.

How does Pakistan see the legacy of Musharraf
An opinion in Dawn on the paradoxical legacy of Gen Musharraf states that Musharraf leaves behind a mixed legacy. Although Musharraf did stabilise Pakistan’s political and economic situation and other challenges, his extraconstitutional actions weakened state institutions and set Pakistan back several years.

An editorial in Dawn on the Musharraf enigma states that the transition from Gen Musharraf to Mr Musharraf was an unremarkable one as his All Pakistan Muslim League suffered the fate of most other one-man parties. However, his era holds numerous lessons for Pakistan’s ruling elite, civilian and military.

An editorial in The News International on Musharraf’s legacy states that the enduring legacy left behind by Gen Musharraf remains one of a country that was left ever more divided and militant than it was when he took over and one that didn’t get to face accountability for this.

An editorial in The Express Tribune Musharraf’s legacy states that Gen Musharraf was a controversial figure as far as his way of politics was concerned. His biggest mistake was acting against the then Chief Justice of Pakistan. However, being a passionate advocate of Pakistan’s tangibles, Gen Musharraf was a show stopper when it came to defending national interests.

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