Pervez Musharraf And His Story Of Dictatorship In Pakistan

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Pervez Musharraf

Well…even though Pakistan was separated from India in 1947, it’s history as a country has been very turbulent. Although the state was formed with an idea to become the largest Islamic state in the world, Pakistan’s struggle underpin the dilemma they face in national integration with the imperatives of national security. Adding to the woes is the military interference in the democratic working which fills the future of Pakistan with uncertainties.

Insights of this blog are:-

•  Pervez Musharraf: Background And His Qualifications

•  The Beginning of Military Rule In Pakistan

•  The First Presidential Rule of Pervez Musharraf

•  The Second Presidential Rule of Pervez

• Impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf

•  Where it Stands now?

Pervez Musharraf: Background And His Qualifications

  • Born on 11 August 1943 Pervez Musharraf was the son of a career diplomat and lived in Turkey during 1949-1956.
  • He joined the army in 1964, after graduating from the Army Command and Staff College in Quetta.
  • He also attended the Royal College of Defense Studies in London and held a number of appointments in the artillery, infantry commando units.
  • He also taught at the Staff College in Quetta and in the war wing of National Defense College. In addition to all this, he participated in the wars against India in 1965 and 1971 and was appointed as the Head of Armed Forces on October 1998 by the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The Beginning Of Military Rule In Pakistan: How It All Started?

Pervez Musharraf is believed to have played a key role in the invasion of India administered portion of the disputed Kashmir in the Kargil War in 1999. However, due to international pressure, the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered the troops to return to Pakistan controlled territory which angered the military personnel.

  • On 12 October 1999, Nawaz Sharif (the then Prime Minister of Pakistan) dismissed him and prevented the plane which was carrying him home to land on Karachi airport.
  • However, the armed forces took control of the airport and other government installations and dismissed Nawaz Sharif to pave way for Pervez Musharraf to become a military government.
  • Although Musharraf was known for its moderate views, he declared a state of emergency, suspended the constitution and dissolved the parliament. The then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his administration was also placed under house arrest and took control of all the state broadcasters, radio and entire critical communications infrastructure and announced that Nawaz Sharif has been dismissed.

Although Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui, the then Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan validated the martial law in a view of “doctrine of necessity” and stated it’s legality only limited to three years, all these series of events marked the beginning of dictatorship rule in Pakistan.

The First Presidential Rule Of Pervez Musharraf

What Happened?

  • On 12th May 2000, The Supreme Court of Pakistan courted by chief justice Irshad Hasan legalized the coup but also ordered to hold a nationwide election to restore the writ of the government.
  • However, in 2001 General Pervez Musharraf issued the executive decree which was criticized by the then President Tarar on the grounds that it was unconstitutional as well as illegal due to which Musharraf forcefully removed him from his office and later forced him to resign.
  • Acting on the supreme court’s verdict, a referendum was held on 30th April 2002, which General Pervez Musharraf won with almost 98% of the votes in his favour and this marked the beginning of his first Presidential Rule in Pakistan.

The Truth Behind The Referendum: The Allegations And The Personnel’s Reaction To It

  • Although General Pervez Musharraf won with nearly about 98% of the votes in his favour, the referendum was alleged by many considering it to be fraudulent. Not only the opposition parties but the Human Rights Group and The Human Rights Commission also alleged that the referendum was held in an illegitimate manner.
  • The journalists also claimed that they saw ballot stuffing and the pressure was put on government employees to vote for him.

While the opposition party backed by the Human Rights Group challenged the results of the referendum, the Chief Justice Irshad Hasan Khan dismissed the petitions, rejected the challenge and stated the results to be true. Information Minister Nisar Menon also dismissed the allegations of fraud citing it to be the propaganda of the opposition and asked the petitioners to stay at home.

The Second Presidential Rule Of Pervez

Challenges To His Second Rule

After completing his first tenure, Pervez Musharraf again stood up for re-election to the presidency in 2007. However, this time he faced opposition from Pakistan’s Supreme Court primarily over the issue of his continuing to serve simultaneously both as a president as well as head of the military. The court also dissipated his efforts to sack the Chief Justice and in October it delayed the results of Musharraf’s re-election.

His Response

  • In response to this, Musharraf declared a state of emergency for the second time in November and cited the growing terrorist threats as the reason behind it.
  • Subsequently, he suspended the constitution for the second time and dismissed the chief justice, replaced all the other justice, arrested opposition political leaders and imposed several restrictions on the media.
  • Later that month, the reconstituted Supreme Court dismissed the last legal challenge to his re-election and Parvez Musharraf resigned his military post to become a civilian president. In mid-December he ended the state of emergency, however, before restoring the constitution made several amendments to justify his acts during the emergency rule.

The Aftermath

However, unlike the time when the state of emergency was declared for the first time, this time people seriously opposed this rule.

  • The political leaders condemned the act saying it was another form of terrorism in the country and Pervez Musharraf is continuing to defy the orders and there is no one to hold him back.
  • The judiciary also criticized this and cited that all this was going as per the Musharraf’s will which is not correct for the democracy of Pakistan.
  • The drastic effect was on the stock market, as the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) fell by 4.6 % on the first day the emergency was declared.
  • Standard and Poor’s rating services also revised its outlook on long term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings of Pakistan from stable to negative.
  • The Dutch government froze development aid to Pakistan in view of the emergency rule.

Impeachment Of President Pervez Musharraf

  • The drastic effects that his rule was having on the economy of Pakistan and the stained image of Pakistan in the International Council paved the way for the impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf.
  • Adding to the woes, was the poor performance of his party in the February 2008 parliamentary elections which was seen as a wide rejection of his being a president in general and his rule in particular.
  • The election also yielded a coalition opposition headed by Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, who set the ball rolling for the impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf in early August 2008.
  • On 7 August 2008, they agreed to ask Parvez Musharraf to get the Vote Of Confidence from the National as well as Provisional Assemblies failing which he will have to step down. However, Musharraf was in no mood to step down due to pressure.
  • On August 11, 2008, the government called the National Assembly to begin the proceedings for the impeachment of Parvez Musharraf and the spokesman for Pakistan’s People’s Party confirmed by saying that a decision has been made that he has to go now and all the parties have agreed to this point.
  • Zardari also announced on T.V. that under s.47 of the Pakistani Constitution which provides a process for impeachment, Musharraf will be impeached. And on, August 13 the ruling coalition party of Pakistan gave him a deadline to resign till August 19 lest he will be impeached which would be a disgrace for the history of Pakistan.
  • As a result, Musharraf announced his resignation at 1 p.m. on 18th August 2008, in a televised address to avoid impeachment.  However, he sought immunity from prosecution as he resigned before time.

Where It Stands Now?

After he stepped down as the president of Pakistan, he went into a self-imposed exile to London. However, he returned in October 2010 and was willing to contest the elections again. Even though he formed his party and was willing to stand in 2013 elections, his bid to stand in election faced a variety of legal and political issues such as open criminal investigations regarding his act as a President. As a result on April 13, a Pakistan court disqualified him from contesting the elections and was arrested the next day to face charges derived from the investigation regarding the suspension of Constitution back in 2007. In August 2013, while he was still under house arrest he was charged in connection with Bhutto’s assassination in 2007.

In 2016, Musharraf was allowed to leave for Dubai to seek medical treatment after which he never returned. In late 2018, it was found that his health was fast deteriorating because of amyloidosis and a year later he was sentenced to death citing his absence on charges of high treason. Although his return to Pakistan was unlikely, in January 2020 the special court which issued Death Sentence to Pervez Musharraf was ruled unconstitutional and thus his conviction was overturned.

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