General Pervez Musharraf:The Military Ruler who Faced the Islamists and now Overthrown. Hamlets Tragedy.
In 1947 when the state of Pakistan was created, Mohammed Ali Jinnah the first Governor General of Pakistan made a far reaching speech. He said that the state was not concerned with religion, which was a private affair of the individual concerned. He also went on to add that Hindus, Sikhs, Christians were free to practice their religion and the state would only govern and not interfere in their personal beliefs. But this was a long time back and successive Pakistan rulers have diluted the ideas of Jinnah and ushered in an Islamic regime where the minorities are under siege.
Two Nation Theory
Jinnah was a politician. The fact is he espoused the two nation theory for a separate homeland for the Muslims. But with the breaking up of a monolith Muslim state as envisaged by Jinnah and the creation of Bangladesh, this concept was destroyed. In addition the fact remains that the creation of Pakistan did not help more than 150 million Muslims left behind in India to further the dream of Jinnah.
The situation became really bad when general Zia-ul -Haq took over as President of Pakistan after a military coup. He had no political base and he tried to buy support from the mullahs and hard line clerics by ushering in laws from the Sharia. He also reduced the status of women in Pakistan to a subservient position by promulgating the Hooded Ordinance, that effectively reduced women to a second class status. He also enacted the notorious blasphemy law that targeted the minorities.. He was killed in 1989 and after a spell of an ineffectual civil rule General Musharraf took over as President after a military coup.
The Coup of Musharraf
Musharraf's coup was not legitimate, but a subservient ' Supreme Court" invoked the "Doctrine of Necessity' and Mushrraf sat firmly in saddle. He imprisoned the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and became a dictator. This dictatorial streak extended through out his rule and later he dismissed the Chief Justice and also held on to power by dubious means.
Positive Actions of Musharraf
I am no supporter of any military coup but certain acts of Musharraf deserve mention, as for the first time after Jinnah a Pakistan President made mention of minorities in the country and their rights. In addition
Historical Address: Jihad against Poverty
a) In an a historical address to the nation he tried to give a different concept and ideal to Jihad. He asked why not a Jihad against poverty, illiteracy and ignorance. this did not go down well with hard line Islamic groups. No Pakistani ruler earlier and later ever had the courage to say what Musharraf said.
b) He showed flexibility on the Kashmir issue and was the first president who accepted that extreme positions on both sides have to be discarded. In a press conference he was clear that a solution to the Kashmir issue can only be found by both India and Pakistan if teh extreme concepts about the state are discarded.
c) He inducted the minorities in government service and the first Sikh officer joined the Pakistan army.Even a Hindu joined the Pakistan army and another Sikh became a Trafiic Inspector in Lahore. This had never happened earlier. Earlier the situation was so bad that the Bishop of Lahore had to commit suicide to highlight the plight of Christians in Pakistan.
Wrath of the Hard Line Islamist Groups
All the above did not endear him to hard line Islamic groups who mounted at least 4 assassination attempts on him with time bombs and rockets. Musharraf survived the attempts.
Musharraf unfortunately did not last long enough and a popular movement made him leave Pakistan. He was against hard line Islamic rhetoric, but the people of Pakistan saw his faults more than his good points..
Pakistan is the loser with the going of Musharraf. His successors are men of straw with a tainted past and certainly not a patch on General Musharraf.The general will go down in history as the only ruler in Pakistan who faced the Wahhabi form of Islam squarely. Its a pity he did not survive as President.
Musharraf had gone into self imposed exile. He returned for the general election and was promptly arrested. the fact is he had exceeded the mandate of a President when in power. Now he is in jail and facing various charges from Murder to treason. Thsi is sad, but the fact remains for the minorities he had a good concept and was trying to be inclusoive. Only if he like Ataturk had not tried to remain in power, he would be better remembered