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General Musharraf Made Pakistan a Success Story

By Farah Naz | August 2022

P akistan’s former Chief Executive and President, General Pervez Musharraf (born on 11 August 1943) is a Pakistani politician and a retired four-star general of the Pakistan Army. During his term of office as Chief Executive, Pervez Musharraf was aided by his self-chosen team of experts, who took various measures for the country’s economic revival, devolution of power, accountability, women’s empowerment and democratic consolidation. Despite his military credentials, Musharraf aimed at holding elections to form a civilian government. However, when most people seem to have a love-hate attitude towards Musharraf, there is a need to take a neutral view of his steps and reforms. People ask questions about his credentials as a patriotic, forward-looking leader, his shortcomings and his mixed legacy of economic development and political engineering.

Istaqbal Mehdi

The tenure of President Pervez Mushraf was an era of hope, expectations and accomplishments. GDP growth which was 3.9% in 1999 grew at an average rate of 6% per annum during the period from 2000-2007. This created an attractive place and expectations for private foreign investment. During eight years, Pakistan registered enormous growth in FDI which amounted to more than 13 billion US dollars. The economy was demonstrating a positive trend in all facets. The economy expanded at an average of 7% per annum during Musharraf's last four years.

The economy growth touched a record level of 9% in 2004-5, The exchange rate remained stable despite trade and current account deficits, clearly indicating strong inflows of external resources. Exchange reserves crossed the USD 16 billion mark. The banking sector was showing extremely positive trends. Major regional banks had shown their keenness to make their presence felt in Pakistan. Some of the leading banks of South East Asia were desperate to benefit from the boomlike situation in Pakistan and make Pakistan their base to do business with the neighbouring countries. Banks and institutions which traditionally were known for lagging behind demonstrated extraordinary performance. One example is the Agriculture Development Bank of Pakistan (ADBP) which ranked in the D category in 2001. It was restructured with the support of Asian Development Bank and with its new face with the name of Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL), it shot up in performance and accomplishments. The result was that the bank in 2004 was rated as AAA. This indeed was a remarkable accomplishment of a bank which earlier was not known for its performance largely owing to poor management-labour relations. Within three to four years it moved from D category to AAA. Since then it is moving in this range of accomplishments.

In short the country showed that given the right leadership and appropriate development-oriented policies it has the potential to provide remarkable results for its people. These two requirements were provided by President Pervez Musharraf during his tenure.

To understand people’s love-hate attitude it is important to examine how Musharraf got into power. His reforms were robust and he underwent great pressures to get his bold measures going.

On October 12, 1999, while Musharraf was out of the country in Sri Lanka, Sharif dismissed him and tried to prevent the plane carrying Musharraf home, from landing at the Karachi airport. Sharif tried to hijack the plane but the armed forces securitized the COAS at all costs. The hijacking of his plane sets an ugly history in the politics of Pakistan. In response, General Musharraf declared an emergency in the country and the political government was dismissed. With that, he became the 10th President of Pakistan after the successful military takeover of the federal government. But what led to the differences between him and Sharif?
One of the significant differences was Prime Minister Sharif’s choice of Lt. General Ziauddin as the new COAS. That decision departed from tradition in a big way considering that no DG-ISI had ever become the army chief till then in Pakistan. \Lt. General Ziauddin belonged to the Corps of Engineers and was not from the fighting arms or the mainstream such as the infantry, armoured corps or artillery. To that extent he was a technocrat and did not belong to the army’s mainstream of general officers from among whom the future COAS is chosen. Perhaps Nawaz Sharif, after successful attempts at meddling with the military leadership, had developed the confidence to dismiss Pervez Musharraf. Earlier, he had managed the exit of the former COAS General Jehangir Karamat in October 1998, and later, of Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Fasih Bokhari, without any hiccups. So Sharif had probably hoped that this time too, sacking General Musharraf would go smoothly which, however, was not to be. Instead, the turn of events proved disastrous for the prime minister.

After suspending the constitution and dissolving parliament, Musharraf formed the National Security Council, made up of civilian and military appointees, to run Pakistan in the interim setup. President Musharraf had both good and bad attributes. One of his best attributes is that he is a born leader, knows his job very well and has the capability to choose the right man for the right job to run affairs. His team members mentioned that he was a great listener and then he made decisions at his best judgment.

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