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Musharraf Leaves Behind A Mixed Legacy: Under Immense Pressure

 
Posted By Philippe Khan

August 25, 2008

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf announced his resignation on Monday, ending nine years in power in a country that is now facing huge economic and security challenges. 

The former army chief, who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999, had been under immense pressure to step down before the coalition government launches the first impeachment proceedings in Pakistan's 61-year history.

According to an article on the BBC, Musharraf will be remembered for many things. He sacked an elected government in a military coup. He took Pakistan to the brink of war with India only to start a peace process with the nuclear-armed Asian rival a few years later. He also became a vital ally of the United States after the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Musharraf could also be credited for modernising many sections of Pakistans society but his critics argue that he weakened important state institutions, leaving Pakistan a more fragile country than it was when he came to power.

"There will be a more balanced view of him in the future than there is now," argues Mushahid Hussein, a leading political supporter. "A lot of things happened in Pakistan for the good under his watch, and I think that is something the history books will recall after some time."

But Musharrafs critics insist that he had to leave.

"As far as democracy in Pakistan is concerned, historians will not forgive him, says Senator Enver Beg of the Pakistan People's Party. "He manipulated elections, he hounded his opponents, and he became a dictator. It's not much of a legacy."

  • War on terror

One of Musharrafs most significant decisions was his complete support for the U.S.s war on terror following the 9/11 attacks. In exchange, the U.S. gave Pakistan more than $10bn in aid, mostly to the military, since 2001.

But many of the benefits from Musharrafs alliance with the U.S. seem to be fading. Pakistans borders with Afghanistan remain lawless, the Taliban is gaining strength inside Pakistan and many Pakistanis criticise military cooperation with the Americans, accusing the government of fighting someone elses war.
 
"He never tried to create an impression in Pakistan that we were fighting for our own country and our own good," says military analyst Talat Masood, a retired lieutenant-general. 

"And because of that the Pakistan army became a client army and Pakistan became a client state in the eyes of the people. It was a major failing on his part."

  • Relations with India

In 1999, General Musharraf launched a military adventure in Kargil, shortly before his military coup. Pakistani soldiers and Kashmiri fighters infiltrated Indian territory, before pressure from the United States forced them to leave.

Both countries were drawn closer to war in 2001 when an armed attack on the Indian parliament in New Delhi prompted a military build-up on both sides of the Indo-Pakistani border.

But a peace process launched in 2004 led to a ceasefire and several goodwill gestures.

Despite the seemingly calm atmosphere, Pakistans current relations with India are tense following last months bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul, which Delhi alleges was organised under the auspices of Pakistani intelligence agents.

  • Time to move on

Domestically, Musharraf's first few years in power were promising. He liberalised the economy and the electronic media. He supported the empowerment of women and made efforts to improve standards in education.

Most importantly, he is leaving office with no serious changes of corruption against him, a rare event in Pakistan.

Despite these positive achievements, Musharrafs last 18 months in office brought his presidential term to an end. He thought he could take on the judiciary, the parliament and anyone else who disagreed with him. He fired the chief justice, imposed a state of emergency and engineered his own re-election as president.

He didn't understand that a country of 160 million people couldn't be ruled by just one man, said Talat Masood.

The political crisis triggered by Musharrafs bad decisions tarnished the economic accomplishments he could claim. In July 2008 annual inflation was over 24%, while the value of the rupee fell dramatically as the long political stalemate dragged on.

"He overstayed his welcome," says Enver Beg of the PPP. "It's time for life without Musharraf, it's time to move on."

 

**Articles By Philippe Khan Accredited - Associated

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