This thought provoking article published in “The News” by Dr. Atta-Ur-Rahman is being republished with the permission from the author.
As a Pakistani I hang my head in shame that that a man has been convicted who did so much for this nation. Even more shameful is the fact that many ministers who praised him to the skies when he was in power, and who have been part of subsequent governments, have not said a word at this travesty of justice.
Pakistan’s economy was in shambles when Musharraf came into power in October 1999, with foreign exchange reserves of $ 0.5 billion, sufficient for only six weeks. During the period 2000 to 2008, there was an average GDP growth rate of about seven percent, far better than that of most economies of the world. The GDP rose from $63 billion to $170 billion, and by 2008, Pakistan was included in the N-11 (Next 11) nations of the world that were predicted to join the most powerful world economies.
Per capita income increased in this period from $430 to about $1000. Foreign exchange reserves grew sharply from 0.5 billion to $16.5 billion by the year 2008. Similarly the revenue generation grew from Rs308 billion in 1999 to about Rs1 trillion in 2008.
The debt-to-GDP ratio improved from 102 percent to 53 percent. Exports grew sharply from $7.8 billion to $17.5 billion. Foreign Direct Investment increased from $400 million to $8.4 billion. The Karachi Stock Exchange Index shot up from about 950 points to 16,500 points. The annual development budget increased from Rs90 billion in 1999 to Rs520 billion in 2008, while poverty was reduced from 34 percent to 17 percent.
The annual rate of industrial growth was in double figures throughout the nine-year period 2000 to 2008. The dollar value was maintained at about Rs60, thereby controlling the rate of inflation. These are hard facts that no one can deny. There was never any charge of corruption against Musharraf, and his family. Yet we still convicted him to death.
A true revolution occurred in the telecommunication sector. The number of mobile phones increased from about only five lakhs in the year 2000 to over seven crores in 2006, making it the hottest growing sector of the economy. Tele-density was increased from 2.9 percent to over 70 percent, with millions of jobs being created in the telecom sector.
The IT sector also saw phenomenal growth with internet connectivity spreading rapidly, particularly during 2000-2003 from 40 cities to over 2000 towns of Pakistan. Fiber optic connectivity increased from 30 cities to about 2,000 towns of Pakistan in this period. Pakistan’s first satellite PakSat 1 was placed in space, thereby securing the last slot left in space. I led this transformation. But Musharraf must die — what a shame.
A revolution was brought about in the higher education sector with the establishment of the Higher Education Commission. The rapid transformation deeply perturbed India. A detailed presentation was given to the Indian prime minister on July 22 about the dramatic progress in Pakistan which was published in the Hindustan Times on July 23, 2006 in an article entitled ‘Pak Threat to Indian Science’ by Neha Mehta.
The budget for higher education was increased from only Rs500 million in the year 2000 to Rs28 billion in 2008, thereby laying the foundations of the development of a strong knowledge economy. The student enrolment in universities increased from 270,000 to 900,000 and the number of universities and degree awarding institutes increased from 57 in the year 2000 to 137 by the year 2008. But Musharraf must die, they say — shame on us.
The communication infrastructure involving roads, highways and airports also saw vast improvements. About 2900 MW of electricity was added to the national generation capacity. The new energy projects initiated included the Ghazi Barotha hydro electricity project — 1600MWs. Over six thermal electricity plants were set up. The Neelum-Jhelum hydroelectricity project was initiated — 1800 MWs. The Chashma II nuclear electricity plant — 300MWs. The Satpara Power project in Skardu. And the Naltar power project in Gilgit. But Musharraf must still die, as we are a nation of thieves and dacoits, and this is the fate of those that try to serve this nation honestly and selflessly — shame on us.
In the agricultural sector a number of important irrigation projects were initiated. The Diamer-Basha Dam was launched that will store 5 maf water and produce 4000 MW electricity. The Mangla Dam was raised by 30 feet increasing 2.9 maf water storage capacity and 100MW electricity. A number of new dams and canals were built (Mirani Dam for Balochistan, Subukzai Dam for Balochistan and Gomal Zam Dam for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; Kachi Canal from Taunsa to Dera Bugti and Jhal Magsi (Balochistan) (over 500 kms) to irrigate 713,000 acres of barren cotton producing land, Thal Canal for Punjab, Rainee Canal for Sindh, brick lining of all the 86,000 water channels in all provinces of Pakistan).
Overall, three million acres of barren land were brought under cultivation. The Right Bank Outfall Drain (RBOD) was constructed through Sindh, thereby saving Indus River and Manchar Lake (Sind) from pollution. But Musharraf must still die, they say, as he should not have intervened and allowed the country to go to hell in October 1999.
Democracy was strengthened. A large number of new TV channels were allowed and the press given full freedom. The local government system was launched to empower the people through a third tier of government. The political empowerment of women was done by giving them reserved seats at all tiers of government.
In the field of defence too there were many stellar achievements. The production of Al Khalid tanks for the army and JF 17 Thunder Fighter jets for the PAF was achieved. AWAC Surveillance aircraft for PAF and frigates and P3C Surveillance aircraft for the navy were acquired. Missile systems were developed with nuclear capability. The nuclear arsenal was strengthened and protected through an impenetrable Command and Control system. The Army Strategic Force Command was created to protect these important strategic assets.
I hang my head in shame for our courts convicting our former army chief, a national hero and not a traitor, to death.
The writer is the former chairman of the HEC, and president of the Network of Academies of Science of OIC Countries (NASIC). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org