Syed Haider Shahbaz (Pakistan, AC 07-09)
“I wish to inform you that the armed forces have moved in…” Pervez Musharraf, 0ctober 13, 1999.
“After consulting my legal advisers and closest political supporters and listening to their advice, in the interest of the nation, I resign from my post today. I leave my future in the hands of the people, to let them be the judges and let them do the justice.” Pervez Musharraf, 18th August 2008.
“They should hang him upside down for what he’s done to the poor.” Ali Alam, Islamabad, The Guardian, 19th August, 2008.
Pervez Musharraf, Chief of Army Staff took over the control of the country in 1999, citing “corruption” and other such vices of administration as his reasons to convert the democratic country into a military dictatorship. Since than he toyed with the constitution and every public service to his heart’s content. It would be an understatement to say that he over stayed his welcome.
Agitation against him picked up full momentum last year when he forcefully tried to oust the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, put him under house arrest and imposed emergency upon the country, days before the decision upon the legality of his office was about to be announced by the Supreme Court. This was the time when we, in polite company say, that the spit just hit the fan. Lawyers played the primary role in the movement along with students and politicians. People took to the streets in massive rallies and soon after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the premier politician of Pakistan, took place. Musharraf was now under high pressure from all sides and this was the scene in the big provinces. In the small provinces bordering Afghanistan the situation was turning more and more grim. More and more disillusioned by the government which was becoming increasingly unrepresentative and aggressive towards them, they turned towards active militancy and started fighting against the government. These seeds have been sowed so deep that the Taliban-inspired fighting continues today even with Musharraf’s departure. Elections were held in February 2008, and to the surprise of many were largely free and fair. The two major democratic parties won and formed a coalition government. President Musharraf took the back seat but he was there nevertheless. But the inevitable was to happen. The coalition government started to work towards the impeachment of the President and to save the few dregs of respect that Musharraf presumed he still possessed he decided to resign rather than being thrown out.
It is hard to say what future course the country would take. Foreign policy has not changed much and the new government is still happy with a pro-American policy. The economy is in tatters and it would take a lot of sweat and toil before it comes back on track. But the symbolism of this action has once again lifted the country. Hope is slowly creeping back in the country. Let us see what the future brings.
– United World College Student Magazine –