The purpose of this piece is not to analyse the personality of General Pervez Musharraf and the period of his rule but to look for his contributions that will have a lasting imprint on Pakistan.
President Pervez Musharraf was a unique personality, positive and progressive in thought and outlook, a strident patriot in the mould of his military background, determined and quick to decide and act, open and congenial in conversation who enjoyed discussion and listened to different arguments and opinion. Yet he is controversial, especially by the circumstances of his ascension to power and a few decisions in the later part of his rule. He made mistakes for which he paid a heavy price. The purpose of this note is not to analyse his personality and the period of his rule but to look for his contributions that will have a lasting imprint on Pakistan.
Almost daily, when we open our television sets and surf through scores of Pakistani channels, we hardly remember that this flourishing of media owes to President Musharraf’s decision to liberalise print and electronic media, a landmark in the socio-political development of Pakistan. Today, the role of our media in influencing and moulding public opinion is indisputable. Ironically, it also contributed to his exit.
Similarly, the common sight of women representatives in our assemblies, both federal and provincial, again owes to the decisions made under the Musharraf rule. We now take this gender balance almost for granted, but it was not so even a couple of decades ago and it marks a definite and permanent advance in the society.
A less recognised contribution by President Musharraf is the support his government provided to the education sector by increasing funds by manifolds. For the first time, teachers especially at the university and college levels were receiving decent emoluments for their services to the country. The education sector falls short in reforms and a targeted education to prepare the young generation by emphasising STEM subjects to meet the challenges of industrial, agricultural and technological development in the country. But for that the onus falls on the lack of clarity about purposeful education in the country. Generous funding was allocated for scholarships to study abroad, especially for PhD in science subjects. The outcome had been mixed, but there is undeniable need for such programmes.
There have been several policy initiatives to free and expand cultural space to encourage artistic talent and attenuate the constricted environment that had prevailed in the country since the late seventies. A better understanding started taking shape about the importance of nurturing and promoting the soft image of Pakistan.
The writer is an author and a former foreign secretary.
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