Many people like to ask me questions about why I support former President Musharraf. As part of the questions, they like to pepper in the misinformation that the Pakistani media has presented to the public for consumption. During one such discussion on Facebook, I was asked the following:
According to you, Khalid Muhammad, what were the positives and negatives of Musharraf’s tenure? People consider him to be the reason for Drones, Missing people(Aafia Siddiqui)etc, Bugti murder case, Laal masjid, all that happened to pakistan after 9/11, the current shortfall of electricity and gas, suicide bombing took a toll during his rule, then 12th May in Karachi, breaking the constitution twice, and many more. What all out of these are true and what all are not? Because people only hear what they are made to hear and the actual facts and information is many times different from the general perception.
Before I discuss the good of Musharraf’s tenure, let me answer the things that you have posted.
Drones – yes, this program was started during the Musharraf government, but it was overseen by the Pakistan Army. No drone could be launched in Pakistani airspace without the express approval of the Pakistan Army. The drones flight patterns were also contained in boxes set by the Pakistan Army so that other things could not be spied upon. This through the research of an organization in the US that has mapped out the total drone strikes and deaths in Pakistan since the start of the program.
Missing people – also a media manufactured issue. The missing people that are being reported from Musharraf’s time fall into two categories: foreign fighters and Pakistanis caught in Afghanistan.
The foreign fighters captured by the Pakistan Army were first offered to their countries of origin, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Saudi, UAE, etc. If the country of origin refused to accept them, then they were handed over to the US because they were terrorists in our country.
The Pakistanis who were caught in Afghanistan were taken straight to Bagram and then to Gitmo. No Pakistan was taken from inside the country to Gitmo. When it comes to Aafia Siddiqui, I leave it to you to decide based on the information in this article. Even the judge in the US who heard her case said that if you are innocent, provide a defense so that we can free you, she did not.
Bugti – He was not murdered. This is another story that the media has purposely hid the truth on. Do some searches and you will find the truth about what Bugti had in the cave that he was hiding in and foreign expert opinions about how the whole thing happened.
Lal Masjid – Musharraf was right in what he did. If I was Prime Minister, I would have taken action sooner. The Ghazi brothers regularly made speeches supporting al-Qaeda, illegally took control of a library for themselves and kidnapped people and burned shops because they chose to. When you behave like a bully, you can’t complain when a bigger bully comes along and kicks your ass.
Please remember that the whole episode built for 6 months before the government took action. They tried to reason with them. They tried to negotiate with them. They even asked anyone who wanted to leave to leave without charge or arrest. The Ghazi brothers wanted a fight and fired the first shot that killed a commando on the street.
And while we are talking about Lal Masjid, why were there so many weapons in the taliba’s hands? If it is a masjid, there should be books, not AK-47s, rocket launchers and other weapons. This was not a place of worship, it was a school of war.
The suicide bombings – During Musharraf’s government, the Army was fighting the terrorists. They only knew one way to retaliate for the losses they were suffering – kill innocent civilians. And let’s be clear – this is a coward’s way to fight and un-Islamic to the core. Suicide bombings were taught to the Pakistani Taliban by al-Qaeda trainers that had seen the success in Iraq. They were formally trained in Afghanistan on how to make the suicide vests, how to brainwash people into believing that this was their path to Jannat and keep them locked away from everyone to make sure no one convinced them otherwise.
There was a suicide training center on my family land in Swat while the TTP had control of the area. I visited it after they were run out of Swat. I can’t even explain the sadness I felt when I listened to the stories and what my eyes saw.
Violating the Constitution – This is the one charge that people have held up against Musharraf, but I would remind the people that the whole nation, including the PPP, celebrated when he took over the country. Not one lawyer stepped on the street or into the court to challenge the act of 12 Oct, 1999. Iftikhar Chaudhry affirmed all the actions, after taking the Provisional Constitutional Order oath, when he was Chief Justice. The discussion however is not about 12 Oct, but 3 November, where Iftikhar Chaudhry’s ego was damaged because he was questioned about the manner in which he ran the Supreme Court. But, let’s talk about others who have violated the Constitution.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the PPP’s founder, was the first civilian martial law administrator in the country’s history. He suspended the Constitution that he wrote and passed through the Assemblies. Never charged with treason.
Zia ul-Haq, the General that Islamized Pakistan, broke the Constitution when he overthrew ZAB. He added amendments to the Constitution that are a violation of human rights (Hudood) and those amendments have never been removed. Never charged with treason.
Nawaz Sharif, current Prime Minister, stormed the Supreme Court and removal of Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, attempted to pass an amendment to the Constitution that would make him King of Pakistan and supported the Zia government as Finance Minister Punjab and Chief Minister Punjab. Never charged with treason.
Every member of the political government – none fulfill the requirements of Article 62 & 63 of the Constitution, yet are still elected members, ministers of political governments.
Hussain Haqqani, former Pakistan Ambassador to the United States, who was about to be charged with treason but fled the country claiming threats to his life.
When we talk about violating the Constitution, it’s done every day in Pakistan by those who are in the assemblies, running political parties and practicing law. Yet, no one dares to demand that they be charged for violating the Constitution or dis-allowed from competing in elections.
So why are we charging Musharraf with violating the Constitution?
Because it suits the political feudals to hold him responsible for the failures of the political governments, rather than holding themselves responsible for their own failure to deliver. Prior to the May elections, Shahbaz Sharif, Nawaz Sharif’s brother, was promising to end loadshedding in Pakistan within months of the PML-N taking power, only to run away from that statement as “excited speech.” Imran Khan promised to rid Pakistan of corruption in 90 days, but 6 months since taking power in the troubled Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province, a national campaign promise has still not been executed on a provincial level. It fits the popular political mantra of Pakistan, “It’s not our fault, the previous government emptied the coffers,” while gathering loans from international organizations to empty them into their private, offshore bank accounts.
If you are willing to charge one man in uniform for treason, then why are the others exempted from the same charge for more heinous crimes?
Rather than me telling you what Musharraf did right, let Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman, former head of the Higher Education Commission, do it as he did in the article published by The News a few days ago (shared on my wall).