In case you feel running short of ideas, just pick up your pen and start writing about President Musharraf demanding his immediate resignation. It will sell like a hot cake and will find a place in a number of leading newspapers. You may be called upon by one of the 50 channels that went on air during Musharraf’s tenure, to express your “creative ideas”. Musharraf’s popularity was said to have drastically dropped from 65% to 35% prior to the elections. Yet 35% is quite sizeable. I wonder where those 35% have disappeared. Instead of burying their heads in the sand, they should stand upright and show some courage by openly communicating instead of giving the other side a walk over. A storm of sub-standard writings has engulfed the print media where writers using derogatory and in some cases abusive language against “our national asset”, are trying to get one-up over one another.
After all we are living in a democratic era, and this we have recently proved. So listen M/s 35 per cent, you have an equal right to express your views. I realize that the sudden change of wind has forced the media to take sides with the feudal and elitist forces that have been so instrumental in bringing Musharraf down. But you still have a chance as the media is not devoid of sensibilities that are the hallmark of a sovereign nation. So, pick up your pen and ask Musharraf to show resilience for which he is known the world over. Ask him to stay and let the democratic and legal process take its course and decide his fate.
A recent article by a former ambassador has drawn comparison between the rules of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and President Musharraf. It’s a structured comparison riddled with a number of distortions discussed briefly hereunder:
The lust of power theory does not carry weight as Mugabe has taken 28 years to be named a power-hungry dictator who has destroyed his country’s economy where inflation has reached an immeasurable level. On the contrary, President Musharraf has been allowed only 8 years during which he has not only kept at bay the American forces rearing since long to trample down the territory of Pakistan like Iraq and Afghanistan, but has also transformed Pakistan’s sagging economy in to one of the most robust emerging economies. I myself did not believe in Shaukat Aziz’s tall claims but The Wall Street Journal ultimately silenced me. The imbalances created by Aziz’s economic policies are a reality but so are the achievements recognized by the outer world.
When the ex-ambassador labels President Musharraf as an “interloper” and “usurper”, it smacks of some personal grudge. The nation has definitely not forgotten any thing. It was not a coup. It was surely a genuine retaliation to a maligned instigation. Whatever was done was done in self defense; the rest is history. Now, if he turns out to be a soldier of fortune, one should not begrudge it! President Musharraf never claimed to be a freedom fighter like Mugabe but none of his close predecessors carried this distinction either. He is a natural leader or not, only the time will decide. The results of the presidential elections have been withheld by the Mugabe regime. On the contrary, President Musharraf has not only carried out the promised free and fair elections but has also unconditionally accepted the results. So where is that megalomaniac strain in the personality of Mr. Musharraf that hurts the ex-ambassador so badly? President Musharraf got himself re-elected under the same democratic rules that have given his adversaries a chance to come up. By using the words “subterfuge and cunning”, the ex-ambassador has questioned the validity of these rules.
The recent elections have re-introduced Zardari as a political leader par excellence. His statesmen-like approach to country’s burning issues has re-kindled the hope of a well-knit federation ready to take the democratic route. He personally does not seem blinded by the one point agenda “go Musharraf go”. Chaudhry Mukhtar’s statement calling Musharraf “a national asset” should be an eye-opener for those roasting in the heat of personal vendetta. Surely, he is a national asset for: Unlike Ayub and Zia, he did not usurp power point blank, rather he was forced by the circumstances to take that role. When the country was at the sloe mercy of the raging white elephant, he provided cover to an otherwise emotional nation who relishes the thought of a head-on collision with anyone, anywhere.
The un-biased know that he saved Pakistan from becoming Afghanistan or Iraq. He stood up to the avalanche of the culture of religious extremism and took blame on his person for the Lal-Masjid unfortunate happenings. He stood in the way of the Americans and Western czars who were out to capture and impale Dr. A Qadeer Khan. By reluctantly giving punishment to Dr. Khan to put at peace the outer world, he exposed himself to the rage of his own nation. Never ever there was a doubt in anybody’s mind that Dr. Khan saved the country twice. May God bless him. The media and communication revolutions of his era ushered in a new-look Pakistan. His rule saw more than 50 new channels going on air. Sitting in the programs of these channels, people used highly derogatory language against him but he never got personal and allowed all and sundry to spit venom.
A little tightening of noose made the media fume and froth. One knows how difficult it is to discipline 4 or 5 children in a household. And if the number reaches as high as 50, it’s hell of a job. His era saw the economy touch a dream high mark. The meager sum of $.700 million in the foreign reserve account in 1999 increased to more than $16 billion in 2007. Pakistan was re-introduced to the financial world as the best performing bourse. The high rate of growth and sustained flow of foreign investment made the country a focal point for the otherwise disinterested world investors. Let us see what The Wall Street Journal has recently said: “Pakistan could become cash magnet if the new government passes some tests”
Heidi N. Moore sets the headline: “Meet the World’s Best Performing Stock Market
Instead, the only stock markets are those in the emerging of emerging markets: Pakistan, Peru and Chile. Those stock markets have risen to 9.5%, 7.1% and 6.6% this year. Brazil is down 11%, Russia is down 13%, China is down 26% and India is down 40%.”
Peter Wonacott writes: “Pakistan’s political scene is growing more clouded but a clear demonstration of confidence in the country’s future is coming from an emerging economic force: entrepreneurs. Scores of new business once unseen in Pakistan are springing up in the wake of a dramatic economic expansion.”
One of the most strategic projects Gwadar Port was completed in his rule. Following is the quote from an article by Zia H. Rizvi, “Since then (1958) the history of the decision making process for its (Gwadar Port’s) development has been that of studying, planning, shelving, restudying, re-planning and waiting and hoping for some outside aid agency to finance the project. This process has taken half a century before the dream has finally become a reality, though, not fully yet to achieve the avowed objectives.”
The reasons for project’s time and cost overruns during the Musharraf rule are no secret. Localized terrorism with the active involvement of neighbor countries and frowning posture of the U.S were the hurdles that have ultimately been surmounted. No doubt certain serious economic imbalances have been created during the era to multiply the sufferings of the common man. Worldwide food inflation, our feudal-friendly domestic economic policies and the failure of administrative setup to control food-items smuggling have been at the roots of these problems. Shaukat Aziz, the outgoing Prime Minister, should have been held responsible for this but again the blame has fallen squarely on President Musharraf.
After Bhuttos, he is the only leader known worldwide and held in high esteem. He speaks in unequivocal terms and has the courage of conviction. Who can forget his handshake with Vajpaee and his one sentence warning that made India to withdraw forces from the borders. He has the guts to snub even the “demanding more” Americans. He is the only “dictator” to have fulfilled whatever promises he made; shedding of uniform, lifting of emergency, holding of free and fair elections, unconditional acceptance of election results.
Source: Pakistan Observer, 17/4/2008