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Home > News > Columnists > Hamid Mir

Pakistan needs democracy, not a military president

September 29, 2006

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Hamid Mir continues his column on President Pervez Musharraf's revelations and reveals the widespread disbelief that have greeted the general's memoirs in his native Pakistan.

Part I: Musharraf conquered Washington, but not Pakistan

Many Pakistanis believe the Kargil operation was a disaster for the 'Kashmir movement' because India was provided an opportunity to say that there were no freedom fighters in Kashmir, they were terrorists.

After 9/11, Musharraf himself declared them terrorists but now, once again, he calls them 'freedom fighters' (in his book]. Why?

It is clear his book is actually meant for the 2007 election. This is his new election agenda. It is not possible for him to take a popular anti-American line like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

There is only one option for Musharraf and that is to attack India for getting votes in the next election. Somebody around him is still advising him that playing the anti- India sentiment will stabilise his position in domestic politics.

He criticises the late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in the book but is also trying to play the India card, again like Bhutto did. He does not mention the sad episode in the life of his father Syed Musharrafudin that was brought about by Bhutto in the 1970s.

Bhutto fired his father from the Pakistan embassy in Jakarta for misappropriation charges. His father was at the end of his diplomatic career but Bhutto disgraced the diplomat by sending him straight home.

After many decades Pervez Musharraf took revenge by declaring Bhutto an autocrat. A president in uniform not only criticises the first elected prime minister of Pakistan who commenced his country's nuclear programme but also ruthlessly attacks the father of Pakistan's nuclear programme Dr A Q Khan.

Musharraf accuses Dr Khan, who is suffering from cancer, for supplying nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya. On page 291, Musharraf says: 'Our investigations revealed that A Q Khan had started his activities as far as 1987, primarily with Iran.'

On page 294, he claims: 'Dr A Q Khan transferred nearly two dozen P-1 and P-11 centrifuges to North Korea.' Now the question is how one man could supply nuclear secrets and centrifuges from Iran to North Korea without the knowledge of the military establishment in Pakistan?

How can a single man transport two-dozen centrifuges weighing more than 24 tons to North Korea single handedly? These questions are enough to create doubts about Pakistan's nuclear programme.

Musharraf claimed that Dr Khan wrote a letter to his daughter in London to reveal nuclear secrets to the British media. This is difficult to believe. There is no benefit in exposing nuclear secrets for the national hero of Pakistan. Why would he like to become a zero from being a hero? If this was true, why haven't the British authorities not taken any action against Dr Khan's daughter who is still living in London?

Musharraf also endorses the American chargesheet against Iran and North Korea. His book is readymade evidence against these two countries. Bush can now spread his fire to Iran and North Korea on the basis of evidence produced by Musharraf.

He has also praised Israel's former prime minister Ariel Sharon for his efforts to resolve the Palestinian dispute. Musharraf never mentions his telephonic conversations with Sharon before he fell ill but on page 305, he says: 'Pakistan now accepts Israel as a Jewish state and a de facto reality.'

These words are explosive in Pakistan because this country has no diplomatic relations with Israel. These words can also create bad feelings in the Arab masses that have not yet forgotten Israeli atrocities against Lebanese civilians in the recent Middle East crisis.

Musharraf does not write how he became army chief in 1998. It was not as simple as Nawaz Sharif choosing him just by chance. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the brother of the then Pakistan defence secretary Iftikhar Ali Khan, has a different story.

He claims that Musharraf used to visit his Rawalpindi home secretly late at night to meet the defence secretary who played an active role in his appointment as the new army chief.

Nawaz Sharif overlooked two generals who were senior to Musharraf. Both of them resigned after they were superseded. Two close aides of Nawaz Sharif, Hameed Asgher Kadwai and Khiam Qaisar, also lobbied for Musharraf. One was the ambassador to Kenya and the other was the ambassador to the UAE.

The army removed Nawaz Sharif from power on October 12, 1999 but Kidwai and Qaisar were not touched though they were not career diplomats but political appointees.

It is not difficult to understand why both of them were not touched by Musharraf? Today Musharraf has not used the title 'General' in his book. Maybe he is planning to relinquish his uniform next year due to some constitutional obligations. He cannot run for offices of president and army chief jointly after November 2007 due to the 17th Amendment which was incorporated in the constitution of Pakistan with the help of the religious parties.

Musharraf got a reprieve about his uniform through that amendment till 2007. He never disclosed his secret meetings with Qazi Hussain Ahmad and Maulana Fazalur Rehman, the leaders of the religious parties' alliance, which took place before his deal with them.

His book is quiet on how he won the support of the maulanas on the uniform issue, on the assurance he announced on television that he would quit donning his uniform by December 31, 2004 and on why he changed his mind and never fulfilled his promise to the nation?

Anyhow, the most positive message emerging from his book is the absence of the word 'General' from the title of In the Line of Fire. One can hope Musharraf will put away his uniform next year. By doing so, he will show respect towards the feelings of a big majority in Pakistan.

Yes, he conquered Washington this time by writing against Iran, North Korea and Dr A Q Khan but he has not conquered the hearts and minds of his own people. He can only conquer his own people by providing them a true democracy, a democracy without a military president.

Hamid Mir is the executive editor, northern region for Geo TV in Pakistan. He can be reached at

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Number of User Comments: 7

Sub: A dictator knows how his rule ends, so don't expect any miracle

Musharraf will never give up his hold on the army. The day he does, he knows the end game for him will begin. Now that ...

Posted by Gururaj

Sub: Pak

Pakistan is a islamic state, This guys can't have democracy, because of there way of life the way thay have brought up with there Narrow ...

Posted by reez

Sub: Gen is a dictator

Gen is a sole dectator, neither a leador nor a President. He made his position by using his army power. HE STABBED IN BACK TO ...

Posted by kumar D

Sub: do India needs democracy or pakistan?

Recent incedant of J&K as well as other places in india shows how weak congress government is in creating peace and law & order schuation ...

Posted by shyam

Sub: Musharraf: a good politician

Although I agree with the sentiments of the article, it is foolish not to look at historic trends. Any and every democratically elected leader in ...

Posted by Aditya



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