LAHORE - General Pervez Musharraf toppled the elected government of Nawaz Sharif 14 years ago and performed the main role in almost every subsequent development that changed the whole scenario at national and international level.
It is a tyranny of luck that a powerful general who had carte blanche during his nine-year rule is incarcerated today for high treason and murder accusations while his arch rival Nawaz Sharif is in power again.
General Musharraf, enjoying unchallenged authority of a dictator, took power with a highly ambitious agenda of reform, rectification and safety of the country, but miserably failed and opened the floodgates of problems that become monstrous in the times to come. The military action of Pervez Musharraf was declared unjustified by the existing judiciary. But its repercussions still loom large.
On October 12, 1999, Pervez Musharraf took over the power and sent Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif and host of their parliamentarians behind bars. An unspeakable ordeal was faced by the Sharif family as Nawaz and Shahbaz were convicted on the charges of hijacking the PIA flight which was returning from Colombo with Muharraf and others aboard on the day of the coup. The spouse of Nawaz Sharif, Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, and his daughter, Maryam Nawaz, launched a strong protest drive that confounded even Musharraf at a time when he had every military and civil authority under his command.
In December 2,000, Sharifs were sent to Saudi Arabia as a sudden and ambiguous move on which many questions were raised as to whether it came through a deal or it was their forced exile. However, they could not come back till November 2007 though they attempted twice to return earlier.
The absence of Sharifs left a big void on the political landscape of the country which General Musharraf tried to fill up through local body elections in 2002, after strengthening his position, first by getting himself chosen as president through a controversial referendum and later by crafting a new political party, combining the political figures of PML and others through favour, threats and greed. He thus formed government of ‘king’s party’ after it got success in the general election 2002. Later, this political division became much wider and hostile.
It is interesting that PML-Q which, in fact, was founded by Musharraf, is today absolutely reluctant to affiliate with him though it enjoyed a complete tenure under his umbrella.
The September 11 incident in the US totally changed the global scenario. America held Osama bin Laden behind the attack. Pakistan under Musharraf abruptly became very important for America as it wanted to attack Al Qaeda in Afghanistan where it believed mastermind of the attack was taking shelter under the Taliban government. America, forgetting every undemocratic action of Musharraf, made him its blue eyed and got from him facilities like logistic, use of airspace and transportation of its weapons through Pakistan territory to attack Afghanistan.
Pakistan paid a heavy price for it as the immediate reaction from the runaway Taliban and Al Qaeda activists, after overthrow of their government in Afghanistan, came to Pakistan where suicide and terror attacks become order of the day.
This badly affected our economy besides disturbing the social life. Pakistan Army came into action against the terrorists and bravely rose to the occasion. Pakistan has so far lost about 6,000 security persons and around 40,000 civilians owing to the war on terror besides monetary loss of about $100 billion. This loss is quite enormous for the weak economy of the country which is facing a huge burden of unemployment, price hike and general unrest. Due to scarcity of reserves, Pakistan failed to procure adequate electricity to meet the country’s needs while terrorism has frightened foreign investors and expedited the capital flight.
US drone attacks are targeting militants, violating territorial limits of Pakistan. In the drone attacks about 1,200 innocent people have so far lost their lives though some militants have also been killed. Pakistan is still facing a sharp reaction to the drone attacks.
Pervez Musharraf remained the army chief till November 11, 2007, and quit as president on September 8, 2008, when PPP came to power as a result of February 2008 elections. During his tenure, Benazir Bhutto and Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bufti were killed, the Lal Masjid incident took place and the superior court judges were detained.
Before Musharraf’s coup, Pakistan economy was on the way of becoming Asian tiger, but today it is facing many crises. As a result of the May 11 elections, PML-N again came to power, while Musharraf is in jail.
The party is determined to accelerate the pace of progress and prosperity, but is confronting gigantic and challenging problems. After 14 years PML-N feels standing on debris of the national institutions due to the decisions and policies of Musharraf. The party is, however, committed to erecting a new edifice out of it.