Published: January 21, 2014
The writer is Executive Editor of The Express Tribune

The writer is Executive Editor of The Express Tribune

Those who are calling General (retd) Musharraf a coward do not know the man. And those who believe he is trying to mobilise, from the sanctuary of AFIC, his ‘foreign friends’ and ‘well-wishers within the institution’ to negotiate a deal for him for safe passage out of the country, know him even less.

I vividly recall his answer to my question during the very first press conference he addressed in Islamabad after the takeover: What is your exit strategy, General Sahab? I asked. I am not one to run away (Mein bhagney wala nahi hoon), was his quick retort.

And true enough, he kept digging in even after the expiry of the three-year-to-rule mandate the Supreme Court had allowed him. When I asked him during an interview (for Dawn) why does he want to continue in office for another five years, he said he wanted to complete the unfinished agenda that he had set for himself. And what happens when you find that your agenda is still unfinished even after five years, would you like to continue, I pressed on. “Yes,” he said, without a pause.

Benazir had offered him two choices in return for agreeing to let him continue in the then all-powerful office of the presidency without, of course, the uniform. Understandably, he agreed to withdraw all ‘politically motivated’ cases instituted up to 1999 against her, her husband and her party workers, rather than allow her to become prime minister (PM) for the third time. Therefore, the infamous NRO. Presumably, he, perhaps, thought with Benazir out of the PM office, he would be able to use the powers of his office more effectively to continue to keep the elected parliament under his thumb even without the uniform.

One does not know how Benazir would have handled the situation, but the way Zardari went about easing Musharraf out of office and out of the country smacked of a copy book move perhaps, already sketched out by the former prime minister before she was eliminated.

In the din of the ongoing debate on whether or not to try Musharraf under Article 6, most of us seem to have ignored the events that had led to his honourable exit from office in August 2008. And if informed reports circulating at that time were to be believed, Musharraf was given an assurance that no cases would be instituted against him if he resigned and left the country instead of contesting the impeachment proceedings that were being proposed. Presumably, his institution and also the US were guarantors of this deal.

Now that he has come back, presumably against the advise of his US friends and his former institution, it is rather highly unlikely that they would like to intervene to get him off the hook for a second time.

Many believe that he should not have come back. But it would have been against his grain to while away his time in a foreign land. Being a commando he has, perhaps, invented a self-image for himself. A macho man — a hero always on the lookout for a damsel in distress to save.

That is, perhaps, what he thought he was doing when he staged the 1999 coup. And again that is, perhaps, what he thought he was doing when he returned to Pakistan just before the May 11, 2013 election — to save the country from the ‘depths’ it had reached since he left it in 2008.

But he seemed totally oblivious to the fact that the so-called economic boom that Pakistan enjoyed between 2002 and 2007 had nothing to do with the management prowess of his economic team. It was, instead, directly related to the 9/11 financial bonanza, as in return for our help in the war against terror the multilateral donors had granted us repayment moratorium of seven long years, while most bilateral donors had either converted their loans into grants or written them off completely.

Instead of using this massive fiscal space to restructure the economy to make it more resilient against external and internal hazards, his economic managers wasted it on promoting consumerism and black economy. That was the sheen that had covered up the horrendous crises that had started flowing out of his policies, putting the economy on an almost irreversible path of a slippery slope.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd, 2014.

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Reader Comments (24)

  • Tariq
    Jan 21, 2014 - 11:39PM

    Musharraf occupy the position of COAS and then President of this unfortunate country. After enjoying such post what in earth Musharraf was going to achieve by electing himself as MNA. His service to the nation is never going to be forget so easily will be haunting for numbers of years to come. As for huge financial aid by US, it is already known that US support cost country so much that that the aid which US proudly gives is nothing but peanuts and definitely goes in pockets as it was not meant for nation but for few powerful people with decision powers.


  • Pakistani Patriot
    Jan 22, 2014 - 12:49AM

    I agreed every bit with the author until the last 2 paragraphs relative to the economic boom during Musharraf’s time. It is disingenuous to portray the strong economic, educational, and social performance to the easing of loans and post 911 benefits. You can’t sustain an economic growth of 5%-9% over many years just from the foregoing of loans – that is a very weak and simplistic argument. Economic growth results from genuine output that a country sells internally and externally. Moreover overseas investors are not fools to have come to Pakistan in droves with their $billions in FDI during the Musharraf era if the economic progress was so shallow as the author would like us to believe. Recommend

  • ARW
    Jan 22, 2014 - 1:12AM

    If economic boom in Musharaff era was only because of “Financial Aid” then why it did not continue after Musharaf when the aid was still being paid till date??
    Well one must give credit to Musharaff and his team where country was progressed in Telecom, Banking, Education, Infrastructure etc above all he kept $ steady @ Rs.60.00. On contrary, just after 2007 Election, Ishaq Dar (Finance Minister) addressed the press conference and the very next day Rupee was devalued and if I am not wrong $ vs Rs was $1 = Rs90 in couple of months time. Now this is called democracy is the best revenge yes best revenge with this country and people of this country!


  • Parvez
    Jan 22, 2014 - 1:36AM

    I found this disjointed and not at all foused. It started somewhere then went somewhere else and ended somewhere completely different. Certainly not one your better pieces.
    On Musharraf’s ‘ Pakistan first ‘……… always stood for ‘ Musharraf first ‘ and that pretty much summed him up.


  • sabi
    Jan 22, 2014 - 1:51AM

    No outside power nor army will interfere at this stage on strong principal of not interfering in state affairs.However if Musharraf is convicted and there are strong chances that he will be,outsiders can step in to ask for mercy.Government will be more than willing to ease him out as well as the state itself.This will be a win win situation for civilian supremacy.


  • Assad
    Jan 22, 2014 - 2:05AM

    M. Ziauddin sahib,

    The GDP of the country does not double up because of consumerism. You need to understand how some of the industries were fundamentally restructured during Musharraf’s time and then give due credit instead of discounting his work on account of the in-vogue sentiment that is anti-Musharraf and devoid of truth.

    There was more infrastructure put in place during the time of Musharraf than any other time in the history of Pakistan, aside from Ayub Khan’s rule.

    So please do not discount thing so easily just because you are being forced to acquiesce to popular sentiment. Speak and write the truth even if it does not sell!

    I agree with you that Musharraf is anything but a coward. He has guts and unfortunately in this land of cowards and hypocrites, our people are blind to what he was able to do for Pakistan and what a mess Zardari and NS have made of this place.Recommend

  • Mirza
    Jan 22, 2014 - 2:49AM

    Unless we bring the treason charges against commando there is not going to be the end of these tinpot dictators. Mush deserves his day in the court of Islamic Republic just like any other person not a Gora master of the country. It is the arrogance and sense of entitilement and superiority that should have been brought to an end.


  • Raja Islam
    Jan 22, 2014 - 2:57AM

    Every dictator justifies his actions and sets up an agenda for himself. Musharraf is no different. The fact is that he overthrew an elected government and violated the constitution. Whatever he may say to justify his reasons for doing so, it is all about money and power and that is hard to give up.


  • Cheema
    Jan 22, 2014 - 3:51AM

    Dear Sir,

    You argument against the economic development of mush years are very weak. Just in 2007 the FDI was 24 billion USD. Sir, do you think international investors especially from big institutions are fools?


  • mrs ahmed
    Jan 22, 2014 - 4:03AM

    “on the lookout for a damsel in distress to save.” BTW , who is the damsel in distress plz elaborate , in your anti MUSHARRAF rhetoric , the seems to loose sense of what he intends to write


  • LuvPak!
    Jan 22, 2014 - 9:14AM

    Nice try Sir!
    But you failed to convince us!


  • Asim Ali
    Jan 22, 2014 - 10:38AM

    And it is exactly, people like the author, who have unfortunately become opinion makers of the country. And has sadly driven the country to where it is at. How would he explain the $ 600 million which the country obtained from 2 new entrants to the mobile sector and the other 3 also had to pay $ 291 million each to operate? Was that financial aid? Spectrum alone brought in $1.5 billion for the country. Yet, the linking of a mere $ 33 million to Shakeel Afridi makes the headlines.


  • Naim
    Jan 22, 2014 - 1:25PM

    @sabi:Just jumping on the anti Musharraf
    bandwagon, without knowing the facts,
    For example: many many roads ie motorways, highways we’re constructed ,thankless,thankfull people are using till this day,
    under PPP or pmln would have not been achieved as priority is loot and plunder.


  • Javed
    Jan 22, 2014 - 6:48PM

    Mr. Ziauddin has a good nick on the political landscape of Pakistan and the first part of this article shows his high skills. But as he talked about the economy during Musharraf’s era, his analysis is shallow and of usual rhetoric. Pakistan’s economy started improving much before 9/11 and the flows which came after 9/11 had lot to do with the discipline economic team working under Musharraf. There was no corruption and foreign investment for the first time felt save in coming to Pakistan. Its small example is Pakistan’s last Eurobond of 30 years. Did any one gave money on commercial terms to Pakistan for 30 Years? Today’s government is looking for money for any short or long tenor, not no one is ready to trust what they are doing. Economy flourish on sentiments and positive outlook, which was there at the time of Musharraf. So simply taking out this credit is not an honest journalism on part of Mr. Ziauddin.


  • unbelievable
    Jan 22, 2014 - 7:08PM

    Whether the economy was prospering or not during Mushy’s rule has nothing to do with whether he should be on trial for murder or treason. It’s an illogical argument.


  • hamza khan
    Jan 22, 2014 - 7:25PM

    @Pakistani Patriot:

    only the 3rd class editor of a pakistani newspaper without any knowledge of basic economics would make that judgement, so really im not surprised. and then again, this man may have his own political ambitions and axes to grind. no one is neutral anymore.


  • saeed
    Jan 22, 2014 - 8:17PM

    I am noticing a new trend and perhaps there is new directives from Nawaz Shareef to his team, to break the common understanding of economic boom pakistan had during Musharraf. So they start as they are musharraf supporters and end wrting against his period. This is third such piece in as many days in english news papers. As someone else said in these comments, well try but we are not convinced.


  • Rex Minor
    Jan 22, 2014 - 8:26PM

    The author knows nothing about those who are calling Musharaf a coward, they are simply thinking loud and those who are writing other theories are simly speculating. Let us also please stop the theories about the term ‘commando’ which is nothing more than a training procedure of sabotage and survive in addition to combat in the enemy territory. Mr Musharaf is on this track since he was ordered to appear in the court on treason charge! He is behaving in the manner he was trained for. Pakistan is no longer his country but the enemy country.

    Rex Minor


  • Sexton Blake
    Jan 22, 2014 - 8:37PM

    @unbelievable: “Illogical Argument”
    Dear unbelievable,
    Today is a red letter day. For the first time in years we are in agreement, I think. President Musharraf should have his day in court.


  • A Khokar
    Jan 22, 2014 - 8:41PM

    If at all he gets off the hook of his trail under Article 6; the best the Macho can serve this nation is a visionary…that he is good at.

    But his getting off the hook of article 6 is beyond anybody’s comprehension.


  • wonderer
    Jan 22, 2014 - 10:35PM

    Brilliant ideas! But where is the money?

    We have yet to get Kashmir, and bleeding of India by a thousand cuts is still an uncompleted mission.

    Don’t we need more resources and fighter jets to tackle North Waziristan?

    The US is becoming ever so stingy.

    What can we do?


  • Ali Salman
    Jan 22, 2014 - 11:00PM

    If Musharaff is to be tried for article 6 violation which is essentially a hogwash and another concocted terminology for share vengeance and nothing more with the active connivance of former CJ then all those who deliberately violated article 60/62 and helped elect looters, plunderers and self-servers who have done more harm than all the dictators put together, need to be tried as well. All over night millionaires must explain and justify their ill gotten growth. The tussle is between an honest man who could not be pin down on corruption and the others who consider looting national wealth as their birth right


  • Jafri
    Jan 24, 2014 - 3:32AM

    Musharraf is not alone ! The whole of Karachi stands behind him and is a witness to his economic policies.


  • SBK2301
    Jan 24, 2014 - 6:39AM

    Musharraf is a habitual liar. He lied to his country, he double-crossed his benefactors like George W Bush & Tony Blair, he lied to Vajpayee, he lied to his own boss Nawaz Sharif, he lied to the whole world! His book “In the line of fire” is excellent as a work of pure fiction, his interviews from abroad were full of lies but his best performance was his hiding Osama near PMA. The way he kept adlibbing even after he (Osama) was taken out by the SEAL tram was worthy of an Oscar! He has the gift of the gab, knows it and misuses it. He should be tried fairly, diligently and mercilessly & punished severely if found guilty.


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