Musharraf Era, Martial Law and Major Reforms:

(Muhammad Usman Habib, Sadiqabad)

Musharraf’s era started from 12 October 1999 and ended on 18 August 2008. These almost eight years were very important in the history of Pakistan. Musharraf’s era had positive aspects as well as some of negative. We will discuss his Martial Law and his important reforms and its aftermaths.

Musharraf’s Takeover: (Martial Law)
12 October 1999 was the important day in the history of Pakistan. It was the darkest day for the democracy of Pakistan. This was the day; Musharraf took the charge of the country by enforcing Martial Law and ruled out the democracy. Imposing Martial Law is treason and violation of Article 6 of 1973 Constitution of Pakistan. This was all due to the hide and seek between that times Government and Army.

Nawaz Sharief wanted to remove General Musharraf from the post of Chief of Army Staff and he tried to do this on that day. When Musharraf came to know all about, he was in Sri Lanka on official tour. Acting immediately, General Musharraf dashed for the Karachi-bound Pakistan International Airlines PK805 flight from Colombo, leaving at 15:45 local time. His Plane did not allow to land at the airport, his plane circling the Karachi Airport almost 200 minutes. At last his Plane succeeds to land at about 19:47 just before ran out of fuel. General Musharraf has since said that the plane had only seven minutes of fuel remaining. All the High Commands of Army did not accept the order of Musharraf’s retirement which was given by that times Prime Minister. At 22:30 the news came, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had been dismissed and Martial Law had been imposed and the National Assembly and Senate had been dissolved.

According to me, Nawaz Sharief’s order was out of sense especially when all going well. I think Musharraf’s way of imposing Martial Law was his last option as he tried all possible options to recover the situation but failed. Even, he asked Nawaz Sharief to take back his order but Nawaz Sharief was still stand with his earlier statement. The most important, Musharraf, later on proved good for Pakistan. If we compare Musharraf’s era to the Nawaz Sharief’s era or even the current Zardari’s era then we feel the difference. Today I realize, Zardari rightly says, Democracy is the best revenge; he is taking revenge from the Pakistanis, very well.

Major Reforms and Achievements: ,
The list of the Musharraf’s reforms is given below.
1. Nine world class engineering universities were developed. The cost of building these Universities was over Rs 96.5 billion.
2. In 1999-2000 there were 31 Public Universities. In 2005-2006 there were 49 Public Universities. Air University (established 2002); Institute of Space Technology, IST (established 2002); University of Science & Technology, Bannu (established 2005); University of Hazara (founded 2002); University of Gujrat (established 2004); Virtual University of Pakistan, Lahore (established 2002); etc.
3. Literacy rate in Pakistan had increased from 45% (in 2002) to 53% (in 2005). Education was received 4% of GDP and English had been introduced as a compulsory subject from grade 1.
4. In total, 99,319 educational institutions increased in Musharraf’s era.
5. There were more than 5,000 Pakistanis doing PhDs in foreign countries on scholarship in Musharraf’s era. 300 Pakistanis receive PhD degrees every year, in 1999, the number was just 20.
6. Major Industrial estates were being developed under Musharraf’s vision: M3 industrial, Sundar industrial estate, Chakri industrial, etc.
7. In 1999 what we earned as GDP: we used to give away 64.1% as foreign debt and liabilities. In 2006, what we earned as GDP: we gave only 28.3% as foreign debt and liabilities. We were saving 35% of our GDP for economic growth at that time.
8. According to an IMF report, Pakistan was 3rd in banking profitability in the world. On the IMF chart, Pakistan’s banking profitability was on third position after Colombia and Venezuela. On the same IMF chart, India was on the 36th position and China was on the 40th position.
9. According to the Economic Survey 2005, poverty in Pakistan in 2001 was 34.46%. And after 7-8 years of Musharraf, poverty in 2005 was 23.9%. Thus, poverty decreased by 10.56%. Overall, 12 million people had been pushed out of Poverty in 2001 – 2005!
10. The government was providing Sui Gas facility to areas of South Punjab at a cost of Rs 1.311 billion. A total of 1,138 kilometer gas pipeline was being laid. The districts benefiting from these schemes mainly include Multan, Khanewal, Bahawalnagar, Rajanpur, DG Khan, Vehari and Muzaffargarh.
11. The Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) sector of Pakistan had attracted over Rs 70 billion investments during the five years (2001-2006) as a result of liberal and encouraging policies of the government. 1,765 CNG stations were operating in the country, in 85 cities and towns. It provided employment for 30,000 people in the country.
12. The economy was the third fastest growing economy after China and India.
13. Five dams were built: Mirani, Subakzai, Gomalzam, Khurram and Tangi.
14. Seven motorways were completed or were under construction.
15. Gwadar, an advanced sea port, was developed.
16. The GDP per Capita in 2007 was $1000.
17. The industrial sector registered 26 percent growth.
18. A historic 100% increase in tax collection (amounting to Rs. 1 trillion) was observed.
19. Revenue collection in 2007/08 was Rs. 1.002 billion.
20. Exports in 2007 were worth $18.5 billion where Textile exports in 2007 were worth $11.2 billion.
21. Pakistan development programs in 2007 were valued at Rs. 520 billion.
22. Foreign direct investment in 2007 was $8.5 billion.

According to my point of view, Musharraf’s era was the best era of 64 year history of Pakistan with respect to progress and prosperity in every field of life. Progress was on its peak at that time. He started a plenty of new projects for the development of the Pakistan. He started tax free industrialization to urge the foreign investors. His plan worked and a number of multi-national companies launched in his era. The impact of that was the increasing number of jobs in his era. It was very difficult to find out skilled laborer for small level construction.

If we talk about education, as earlier mentions, his era was the best. He was very education loving. Actually, he was loved of all things that make Pakistan progress, as his slogan, “Pakistan comes First” (سب سے پہلے پاکستان).

But rather all of that, there are main important negative aspects of Musharraf’s era. NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) was one of them. Pakistani Nation was looted under this act. Musharraf legalize this illegal ordinance. According to this, a plenty of loans of parliamentarians, berucrates and politicians were removed by this act. And this was the only act that Musharraf considered his mistake during his period. Another aspect is the pending process of Kala Bagh Dam. If it could complete, a more than half of electricity and water crisis of Pakistan would resolve. But when he was asked about that, he replied that re-establishment of Kala Bagh Dam was the controversial. According to my point of view, that was not the pet logic. If Army killed Akber Bugti in his era, if operation of Lal Masjid could held in his era then why not Kala Bagh Dam re-established in his era? This is the big question mark that what he was thinking about Kala Bagh Dam. Another issue is that he cannot start any practical work on discovered Thar coal which can fulfill over energy requirements for more than one hundred years. Thar coal is the fourth largest coal reservoirs in the world but unfortunately still remain untouched due to administrative crisis.

In long and short, Musharraf’s era was not an ideal but still better than all the other eras of ether democratic or dictatorship eras in Pakistan.

Muhammad Usman Habib
About the Author: Muhammad Usman Habib Read More Articles by Muhammad Usman Habib: 9 Articles with 87394 views I am writing on social issues of Pakistan. See my notes...
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