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Pervez Musharraf’s unremitting energy, his diligent work and his appointment of capable people made him an outstanding leader.

By MAJ. GEN. INAM UL HAQUE (R) | August 2022

It was immediately after the Kargil War (1999) and President Gen. Musharraf was visiting Multan Garrison. During interaction over luncheon with ranking officers (Majors/Lt. Cols.), when asked about the nature Kargil War and our strategic intelligence analysis, he was candid, forthcoming and honest in accepting our shortcomings and errors of judgement, where due. In the cited interaction, emboldened by his honesty, he was subjected to many uncomfortable questions and he honestly answered most, if not all.

Despite his many lackings, this was President Musharraf’s strongest quality and, like General Zia’s disarming smile, made him survive many tricky and tight situations.

Maj. Gen. (R) Rashid Qureshi

General Musharraf is a man of outstanding integrity, character and quick wit who is honest and devoted to his country, Pakistan. Before taking any decision, he thought of how it would affect Pakistan and its people. Nothing mattered more to him than Pakistan's people and their well-being. Sharp, well-spoken and very intelligent, harbouring on brilliance, his ability to grasp and absorb essentials of new concepts was outstanding. At the same time he was tolerant, listening to and appreciating fresh ideas no matter how and where they came from. Logical and appreciative, he was socially congenial and would put a person at ease in the first few minutes of any meeting.

In 1999 when he became 'in charge' of Pakistan, he inherited a country on the brink of disaster. The economy was in ruins, the country was eyed with suspicion by the international community, Pakistan was perhaps the most 'sanctioned' country in the world. The internal situation in Pakistan was bad - law and order was near collapse, the police and law enforcement agencies were incapable and corrupted. Nepotism, corruption, individual/family interests and short term personal interests of influential families was the order of the day.

In a matter of six months to a year Pervez Musharraf imbued the country with his personal sterling qualities. He worked day and night (slept 4 to 5 hrs) and brought Pakistan to a stage where, whenever he spoke in front of any audience, be they local or foreign (British, Swiss, Indian, American) I would hear whispers conveying "We wish we had a leader like him!"

General Musharraf's leadership and governance was outstanding. Pakistan's image improved, people felt proud and confident of the direction in which their country was moving. Great development in road infrastructure took place. Dams for production of cheap electricity were started. A deep sea port at Gawader was initiated, new canals (Kachi Canal) and discovery of gold/copper mines in Reko Diq in Balochistan took place. Coal mines in Sindh were developed while universities, cadet colleges and dams at Neelam-Jhelum rivers, Gomalzam and Diamir-Bhasha were started by him.

Multan was the third time the Paltan, I was commanding and had hosted him. Earlier, he had reviewed an agricultural exhibition and de-silting of canals in Khanewal District. Seeing him transform from Corps Commander in Mangla (when I as Major was stationed in Kharian) to the CEO and then President of Pakistan (2001) was phenomenal and his on-job performance and diligence was inspiring. His rule was not without problems and this piece would render an honest appraisal of his stint in power.

Field Marshal Ayub Khan is credited for being a ‘mardam shanas’ - someone who knew the right man for the right job. President Musharraf trails him closely behind… something that Imran Khan needs to work diligently on.

Military take-over under Musharraf (Oct 12, 1999) after the ugly change of command by Nawaz Sharif, appointing an officer with lesser credentials to lead the Army, all while Musharraf was visiting Sri Lanka officially, was unfortunate. Not allowing his plane to land was criminal to say the least, and morally bankrupt. When I asked my enlisted driver about Musharraf’s removal by Mian Sahib… his reply was iconic and reflected the thinking of rank and file. He said, aisay to kisi sipahee ko bhi nahi nikaltay (you do not treat even a soldier like this).

Musharraf’s unremitting energy thereafter, his diligent work, his appointment of capable people, his regular follow-up and his astute dealings with the 50-nation alliance led by the USA, the sole super power next door in Afghanistan, was commendable. True to his calling and as a dictate of our strategic environment, his government ensured Pakistan’s ‘strategic relevance’ at the regional and international fora. Sensing and grabbing the opportunity that the War on Terror (WOT) offered for his own survival and global acceptability, he cashiered it to Pakistan’s benefit economically, militarily, politically and geo-strategically.

Coalition Support Fund, the cost of war reparations, military grants and aids, equipment supply and enhanced military training and cooperation with the US/NATO made the Military’s biting teeth more deadly including the PAF and PN.

Economy is always Pakistan’s Achilles’ heel. The salient features of Musharraf’s economic policy comprised liberalization, privatization, FDI (foreign direct investment), industrialization, and improvement of irrigation and transportation systems. These were correctly identified core areas, with requisite focus.

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