Pakistan divided on legacy of military ruler Musharraf

ISLAMABAD: Pervez Musharraf was a polarizing figure in Pakistani politics, returning the country to a period of economic stability while being accused of rampant abuse and undermining of democracy.
The nation’s most recent military leader ruled for nearly a decade after coming to power in a bloodless coup in 1999.
His rule has been marred by multiple allegations of abuse, including brutally rounding up opponents as well as being accused of having ties to the former prime minister. Benazir Bhuttoassassination.
The impact of his decision to back the United States in the invasion of Afghanistan – despite facing bomb threats and in exchange for a huge amount of aid – continues to reverberate.
“Musharaf has promoted educational standards and infrastructure in Pakistan. He has brought development to the country,” said the 24-year-old student. Mohamad Waqas told AFP in Islamabad.
“But on the other hand, the country has suffered in the face of terrorism. America’s entry into the war has weakened our country.”
Pakistan is currently going through another economic crisis and widespread political instability ahead of elections due later this year.
In the face of the turmoil, some people still remember Musharraf with a certain fondness.
“He is a good ruler. There has never been a leader like him before and there will never be another like him,” said Muhammad Khan, 70, a shop owner in Islamabad.
“He is a profound ruler who loves hard work and appreciates new initiatives,” veteran Pakistani politician and Musharraf ally Parvez Elahi told AFP.
In 2006 – at the height of their alliance – US President George W. Bush called Musharraf “a strong, strong leader (who) has been the target of the unstoppable”. moderate thought prevailed”.
However, his moves to overthrow an elected government and suspend the constitution for a long time also made his legacy.
Retired civil servant Naeem Ul Haq Satti told AFP: “One act of his, which will be remembered throughout history, is that he violated the constitution.”
“The most important thing a country has is its constitution,” the 69-year-old added.
In the face of growing pressure for democratic elections, Musharraf’s repression of critics worsened.
He suspended the constitution for the second time in 2007, rounding up thousands of protesters and firing the chief justice, leading to widespread protests.
“General Musharraf is one of those military dictators who wrongly ruled the country by… bringing in a bunch of flatterers,” businessman Abdul Basit told AFP in the Balochistan provincial capital Quetta.
Under Musharraf, Pakistan stepped up its war against ethnic Baloch separatists, with a military campaign killing a key separatist leader. Akbar Bugti in 2006, an assassination fanned the flames of that movement.
“People recognize General Musharraf for developing the country, but on the other hand, like his predecessors, he wreaked havoc,” Basit said.
Musharraf resigned in 2008 and faced years of legal wrangling, eventually being found guilty in absentia and sentenced to death for treason. That ruling was later nullified.
The former ruler ended his days in Dubai, failed to launch a political comeback and found himself, and his All-Pakistan Muslim League party, marginalized from political relevance.


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