Pakistan Celebrates the Exit of President Pervez Musharraf
President Musharraf had to tender his resignation in order to avoid impeachment proceedings against him, which the opposition would have contemplated upon in case he lingered on to his position. His resignation was the culmination of a nine- year turbulent rule. Speculation is rife that he maybe exiled to Saudi Arabia.
In his hour- long address on national television, he said he was resigning in the interests of the country. Mushraff had seized power in 1999, after heading the Pakistani army in the Kargil war, which proved to be disastrous. It was a bloodless coup. In 2001, he took over as the President of Pakistan.
Mushraff felt that impeachment proceedings against him would not be in the interests of the country. ” The honor and dignity of the country will be affected and in my view, the honor of the office of the President will also be affected.” He said that he did not expect anything from anybody and his future was in the hands of the nation and the people. In 2003, Mushraff was lucky enough to escape two assassination attempts – one attack was carried out by the Islamist military officers and the other by al-Qaida. In 2007, he was reelected for another term as president in a vote, which the opposition had boycotted. Again in 2007, he imposed a state of emergency, whereby he sacked the Chief Justice, suspended the Constitution. He,subsequently, lifted the emergency. During the same year, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, which led to the erosion of the image Mushraff.
US, Saudi Arabia and Britain have been negotiating with the PPP-led government ( Pakistan People’s Party) for the “safe exit” of Mushraff. The latter is, of course ,trying to stay on in the country, rather than be packed off in an unceremonious manner like he did with Nawaz Sharif. The question that arises here is whether the PPP would encourage Shariff to settle scores with Mushraff in having the latter exiled.
During his reign, Mushraff almost created conditions in Pakistan for a war with India. On the first occasion, it was the Kargil invasion and, the second occasion, was the Pakistan-backed attack on the Indian parliament in 2001. At the same time, he did cooperate in maintaining peace at the line of control in Jammu and Kashmir for the past five years.
Mushraff was no longer the blue- eyed boy of the US. This was quite evident as US State Department was heeding to Benazir Bhutto by clearing her appointments with them. The US was annoyed the way the terrorist problem was handled by Mushraff. He was unable to handle the war on terrorism efficiently. In fact, some of the senior Pakistani counterparts of the US were actually indulging in double- cross techniques. They were either using the funds for assistance to the extremists or were indifferent to the militant incursions and attacks in Afghanistan.
The impeachment proceedings were not favored by some sections, as they felt it would be a long drawn battle. Also, no army general in Pakistan has been impeached so far. Most of them stepped down.
Incidentally, Mushraff belonged to Mohajirs community, who spoke Urdu and were migrants from India. The Sindhis and other communities have no liking for this community. Most of the Mohajirs are located in Hyderabad (Sindh) and Karachi.
The downfall of Mushraff was indeed a slow process. At the time of take over, he was given three years by the Supreme Court to carry out reforms to the existing system. He was also given sweeping powers to reform the Constitution to that effect. He conducted local body and provincial elections. He also organized the national legislative elections with the set period of three years. A Parliament came into existence.
The anti-Mushraff stance of the present government of Pakistan and his shedding of the uniform was indicative of his domineering influence. His approach towards the judiciary was not appreciated. The suspension of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as well as the Constitution to be followed by emergency added fuel to the fire. He suspended over 60 judges.
Inflation was very high during his tenure and continues to be so. The stock market is slightly recovering now that he has stepped down. And to top it all, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto was not something that did him much good.
Today, Mushraff is no more in power and the people of Pakistan breathe a sigh of relief. They are rejoicing his stepping down. The present government has to prove its worth, although it has successfully managed to ensure that Mushraff is out of power.