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Pakistan: Home to the Mystifying Cultural Heritage By Ishaal Zehra

Pakistan: Home to the Mystifying Cultural Heritage

Ishaal Zehra

Spring is back in Pakistan. And so is the exclusive Defence Day Parade which is annually held on March 23rd to mark the Pakistan Resolution Day. The day when all the Muslims of the sub-continent agreed upon to fight for a country which they can call ‘home’. At this time of the year, one can catch quite a glimpses of colours and smiles all around Pakistan.

Peace has returned to the country and so is the tourism. Credit goes to the Pakistani nation which stood resilient, fully supporting the military in their operations against militancy. The resolve this nation showed during these hard times is reaping rewards now. Pakistan, who lost her tourists to other regions of Asia is fast becoming famous around the tourism circle for her magnificent beauty and charm she offers to the visitors.


Pakistan day parade starts with zeal and vehemence. The capital city Islamabad roars with jet thunders rehearsing for the main day Parade from the mid of March. Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan lies on the Potohar Plateau, one of the earliest sites of human settlements in Asia. The word Islamabad means ‘the city of Islam.’ Famous for its greenery, peace and cleanliness, Islamabad is highly developed and is ranked second most beautiful Capital city in the world. Apart from the natural beauty and huge green forests, Islamabad is also famous for the Faisal Mosque – the largest mosque in South Asia and sixth largest in the world. The mosque is a major tourist attraction and is referred as a contemporary and influential feature of Islamic architecture.  The trek trails of Margalla hills offers a breathtaking experience to the trekkers.  Other places worth seeing in this city include Lok Virsa Museum, Rawal Lake, Pir Sohawa, Islamabad Zoo, Pakistan Museum of National History and Saidpur village beside many others.







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Pakistan has a very rich cultural heritage. The variety Pakistan offers is a true delight for the tourists and necropolis fans. The latter especially will not be disappointed. Starting from the ancient settlement of Taxila in the western outskirts of the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is considered one of the most important archaeological sites of South Asia. Taxila was a centre of learning and is considered by some to have been one of the earliest universities in the world.  The archaeological sites of Taxila include buildings and Buddhist stupas from the 5th century to 6th century AD. The main ruins of Taxila are divided into three major cities, each belonging to a distinct time period. These ruins reveal the pattern of urban evolution on the Indian subcontinent through more than five centuries. Sirkap is the citadel of the ruined cities. It was a planned city with a multicultural population. When you visit Sirkap you can see the interesting style of masonry up till 6th century when the city was destroyed by the White Huns. Julian is a 300 meters easy climb you will see a well-preserved monastery and the main stupa beautifully decorated with the statues of Buddha and other deities.   The local guide will explain all the important aspects of the monastery and Stupa. Julian was the place where Sanskrit script was invented and it was a well-known college in its times (2nd to 6th century AD).

Nearly everyone on Earth is familiar with the Great Wall of China – well the Ranikot Fort is Pakistan’s answer to its much better known Chinese counterpart. But the Great Wall of Sindh is not a protective barrier like the Great Wall of China. Rather, the walls form the outer defence system of the fort of Ranikot. Within the outer walls there are three inner forts named Miri Kot, Sher Garh and Mohan Kot – and together they constitute what is generally regarded as the largest fort anywhere in the world.

Ramkot Fort is a major landmark of Mangla city. The fort, located on the top of a hill and surrounded by River Jhelum from three sides, presents a picturesque landscape. To approach the fort, you have to take a boat from the water sports club at the Mangla Dam for an almost 10-minute ride, would reach the northern extremity of the reservoir. Here, you will find a gigantic fort structure located on the summit of the hill. A short but steep climb uphill takes you to the fort.

Built between the 15th and 18th centuries, the Chaukhandi Tombs now form a remarkably well-preserved necropolis that often attracts curious visitors and archaeologists alike, but the area is not without foreboding legends.  The tombs at Chaukhandi are renowned for being one of the most haunted sites in the region, and visitors are particularly warned against entering the graveyard at night. Avoiding the tombs at night isn’t bad advice, haunting or otherwise, because the details and drawings on these fascinating artifices are clearly best experienced in the broad light of day. A fact for which many visitors are likely very thankful.

From around the 14th century through to the 18th century CE, the Thatta region was inhabited by local royalty who used Makli Hill as their communal burial site. Hindu, Islamic, Asian, and other styles can be picked out among the collection of tombs, which have been split into four distinct periods of creation corresponding to the ruling society of the time. Some of the tombs have tall columns, while others are decorated with sweeping arches. Altogether, the hill is like some sort of archaeological dreamscape.

In the town of Thatta, there is famous Shahjahani Mosque, also known as Jamia Mosque of Thatta, with its beautiful architecture. This mosque was built in 1647 during the reign of Mughal King Shah Jahan. The mosque is considered to have the most elaborate display of tile work in South Asia and is also notable for its geometric brickwork – a decorative element that is unusual for Mughal-period mosques. The mosque has overall 93 domes and it is world’s largest mosque having a huge number of domes. It has been built keeping acoustics in mind. A person speaking at one end of the dome can be heard at the other end when the speech exceeds 100 decibels.

The Mohatta Palace is a museum located in Karachi. It was built in the posh seaside locale of Clifton by Shivratan Chandraratan Mohatta, a Hindu Marwari businessman from modern-day Rajasthan in India, in 1927. The architect of the palace was Agha Ahmed Hussain. Mohatta built the Palace in the tradition of stone palaces in Rajasthan, using pink Jodhpur stone in combination with the local yellow stone from Gizri. The amalgam gave the palace a distinctive presence in an elegant neighbourhood, characterized by Indo-Muslim architecture which was located not far from the sea.

Takht-i-Bahi, the most prolific religious and ceremonial complex of the Gandhara Civilization, is rightly known as the jewel of Pakistan’s cultural heritage.  A visit to Takht-i-Bahi -Throne of Origins- offers a chance to explore the history of the Gandhara Civilization. Takht-i-Bahi is also referred to as the Monastery of Kanishka, the great Kushan King, who ruled Gandhara in the 2nd century CE and was famous for his military, political and spiritual achievements. It was first excavated in 1836, and numerous items were recovered, including coins from different periods. Most of the statues are now on display at the Peshawar Museum, which contains the largest collection of relics of the ancient Buddhist civilizations. Some of the most valuable pieces of Gandhara sculpture, now found in European museums, were originally recovered from Takht-i-Bahi.


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With the list extended to Mohinjodaro ruins, which was one of the largest and most advanced cities in the world during its time, to the Baltit Fort and the lunar landscape, a mud volcano and bizarre rock formations of the Hingol National Park, the list seems unending. How to not talk about the Muslim Sufi Shrine in Multan, the mystical branch of Islam.







People say that, in Thailand, Scotland or Morocco, you find the most hospitable people in the world. Well, clearly, they haven’t been to Pakistan. Whereas it’s true that these countries are very hospitable, Pakistanis bring it to the next level. While the people of Pakistan come from a variety of distinctive ethnic groups and speak a number of different languages, they share at least one thing in common: a uniquely gregarious nature. In this country, you are the guest, which means that the locals strive for you to have the best possible time in their country or region. The hospitality can even be overwhelming – for your trip to Pakistan, prepare yourself for the majestic treat.

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 National Government Has Become An Absolute Imperative. Saeed A Malik.

 National Government Has Become An Absolute Imperative

Saeed A Malik


From 2008 onwards, the central aim being pursued by the governments in power stood naked and exposed, without a shred of modesty nor any sense of shame. This central aim was to loot Pakistan. There is therefore a direct correlation between the exponential rise in Pakistan’s national debt and the assets of its”leaders”. Our national debt is not just a serious issue. It is potentially a catastrophic one. This is not a matter for speculation which may be argued against, for this a mathematical reality. The figures are out there. Our debt is known and so is our income. It is also known that we do not have the income to repay our debt, the first installments of which are due from us in 2018. Non-payment means bankruptcy. And bankruptcy means economic sanctions at the very least. To avoid these sanctions a pound of Pakistan’s flesh will be required by the lenders. And one does not need to guess too hard that this pound will include our nuclear assets; an end to CPEC; and a free hand in Baluchistan. In short Pakistan will lose its defense capability; will be truncated for all practical purposes; and its only chance to get out of its present economic mess will die the death of an unrealized dream.
In short, the level of corruption in Pakistan and the huge national debt this has spawned, are existential threats to the viability of our independent existence.
There is also a nexus between the looted money and terrorist funding. Our leadership has therefore given us the twin gifts of economic catastrophe, and its financial support of terrorist groups. Either of these gifts would have been enough, in the long run, to have taken Pakistan down. But coming together, their lethality could well wring Pakistan’s neck.
It is often suggested by the apologists for the government that the real cause of our debt is the costs incurred due to the war against terror, whose smooth execution has actually been hindered by the government i.e they have stood with the enemy in this war.
Be that as it may, the fact is that the almost seventy percent fall in the prices of oil has more than met the costs of the war on terror. The cost however which cannot be met is the cost of economic terrorism waged by our leadership against our country.
But the immensity of the theft that was visited on Pakistan leads one to ask, how could this have even been possible? The answer to this question is a very simple one for those that have the honesty to face the problem squarely without blinking. This situation is the direct result of the “system” which is trying to masquerade as a democracy. The public representatives elected to parliament are not elected to legislate and govern. They are elected to loot and plunder the state, because the very order is based upon a ” returns on investment” system. In short this is a system where “madate” has come to mean a mandate to loot and plunder. The logic being spewed by a frothing Nawaz Sharif to proclaim his innocence tells us that this interpretation of “mandate” is the one he goes by.
Under this “system” the one seeking a seat in parliament has to first make an investment, which begins with his purchase of a ticket from those who supposedly give us our “democracy”. A person who “invests” ten crores to get elected, comes motivated to earn fifty crores if elected. Thus the “system” is rooted and founded on theft and villainy. And that is what should be expected from it.You cannot expect to sow bramble, and hope to get roses.
At the level of a political party, this system metastasizes into a vast criminal enterprise, which was what both Zardari and Nawaz Sharif were running. The mechanics of this “system” are very easy to understand. To commit economic fraud on your country you cannot do it alone. You need to be facilitated. And this facilitation is done by the secretary of your ministry. And so you get yourself a corrupt secretary. And here begins the undermining of the bureaucracy. Pretty soon you have placed all such institutions which can help you make or hide money [like the FBR, SECP, OGDC etc etc] under corrupt bosses. With the passage of time the whole civil service  becomes diseased, ministering only to you at the cost of national interest.
The second enterprise you embark upon is to give yourself immunity from the law and any form of accountability. For this you subvert the police, the FIA, NAB, and any and all such organizations which can hold you accountable, going right up to the judiciary.
To make the “system” work without any challenge, you also co-opt the political opposition into this criminal enterprise and sign with them a “Charter of Democracy.”
Lastly you want to ensure that the elections that are held, return you to power each time they are held. For this you rig the election commission, as well as the interim governments sworn in to hold elections, and take help from your man in NADRA. And lastly you amend the constitution to further strengthen your immunity from accountability and to ensure your perpetuation in power. This has divided the country between a rotten “elite”, and the hopeless rest, and driven the state to the margins of extinction.
By the time you have “achieved” all this, the “system” that you have brought about, stands in direct opposition to any form of accountability and therefore against this central pillar of democracy: while a mangled constitution stands opposed to national interest. The situation therefore is so created, that any citizen who stands with national interest, will per force have to oppose the constitution. This is the sorry pass where the combined exertions of Zadari and Nawaz Sharif have dragged the nation to.
The only institution which could not be subverted by this duo, despite their best efforts, was the Pakistan Army, and lately, a rejuvenated judiciary. But sadly, the army, which guards our national security, stood back and allowed the very foundations of the state to be undermined by mega corruption, without moving a muscle to thwart it. Without this negligence to duty, we could not have reached this stage.
The system which uses the label of democracy but is geared to breed only criminals, needs to go and new one put in its place. The only way this can be done is to eliminate, as far as is possible, the promise of monetary gain from political office, so that increasingly such people enter politics, as are committed to serving the people and the country. The most important single step in this direction is to reform the civil service and the police. Each of these must have their own secretariats to deal with the promotions and postings and transfers etc of their cadres, so that no minister can have in his ministry a secretary of his choice. These postings should be done entirely on merit by the service itself. If the officer who facilitates the corruption of a minister is denied to him, theft and chances of it will greatly be reduced; while a relatively independent police force, largely operating without political interference, will take away the comfort of immunity which is now being enjoyed by all the ministers.
Any constitution and system of laws is predicated on the assumption that those sworn to uphold it, will be the last ones to undermine it. But in our case these are the very people who have mangled the constitution, and they subvert the spirit of what is left of it, on a daily basis. And there is little to hold them accountable.
Just examine the situation that this criminal enterprise has brought about. We have a prime minister in parliament; we have one in Jati Umra to whom all the ministers report; and we have one in the shape of Maryam Safdar  whom all the ministers who once constituted her “gaali galoch” team, report to. Together these three prime ministers have one aim in common i.e they are all committed to undermining and conspiring against the Supreme Court and the Pakistan Army, the only two institutions left standing. They are openly violating every legal norm, and the relevant articles of the spirit of constitution in doing so. This, then is your “system” which, it is daily alleged, is in danger of being derailed.
This is a joke that has lost its hilarity and must now be terminated.This system must not only be most assiduously derailed, but mercilessly beheaded. Pakistan is in the grip of a dire emergency. This emergency should be recognized and declared before further harm can be done to the state. This is the job of the President, the C.J and the Army Chief, who should join together to come to the aid of the state. They must bring to an end, this criminal enterprise about whose criminality little doubt remains. They must not allow it further tenure to commit grievous wounds on the state.The President should announce national emergency and the formation of a National Government while the supreme Supreme Court must give radical new interpretations of law to give legal cover to every such measure as is deployed towards salvaging the state. And the Court must invoke all relevant articles of the constitution to take assistance from the Army to stem the current rot.
The National Government should 
— as the first order of business,immediately put every suspected criminal on ECL pending investigation and trial.
–form, with the help of the Supreme Court, summary courts to try people for corruption. The proceedings of these courts should be monitored by the Supreme Court.
–define mega corruption and institute death penalty for it, convertible to life imprisonment in case the convict repatriates wealth stolen from the state.
–set in motion efforts to retrieve Pakistan’s stolen assets stashed abroad.
–suspend the 18nth amendment of the constitution, and issue ordinances to give legal cover to its actions.
–dismiss the large numbers of civil servants and police officials who have acted as personal servants of people exercising political power, to the detriment of the state. And retrieve from retirement such officers of these services who had a reputation for integrity and ability, and place them in the most important slots ravaged under the present dispensation.
–set in motion reforms of the civil and police services so that these institutions become independent of political masters of the future.
–do electoral reforms.
–issue an ordinance to the effect that all citizens under any indictment in a court of law, may not take part in any political activity till cleared of the same.
–ensure that elections to parliament are held no later than eighteen months, but those fighting such elections must sign a declaration that if elected, they will sign into law all such ordinances which have been issued by the national government.
–among the first orders of business, get into negotiations with the Chinese government, on a bail-out package, should Pakistan not be able to meet its international debt obligations.
–define mega corruption and include it among national security imperatives, and create an institution where it can be monitored,freely debated , and killed in infancy. A national security council could be such a forum.
–define a minimal politcal role for the army insofar as national security issues are concerned. The army and its heft are a reality. To treat this reality as non existent, is to hobble the system through imbalance. It is this imbalance which has resulted in the present situation. Had there been a functioning and effective national security council to take up corruption issues at their incipient state and squelched their further progress at that stage, things would never have reached their present pass. A very good example here would be the huge LNG scandal. The press reported it when this fraudulent deal was being hammered out. It could have been killed in childhood, but it was allowed to prosper. And now it will kill tens and thousands of our children because of the consequences of poverty it will visit on so many additional families.
In the past, army generals have moved in to redress an emergency situation. Emergencies are temporary phenomena, but the generals made their reigns permanent. And the Courts gave legal cover to the generals to get away with it. This did immense harm to both the army and the country. Now here is a chance for both the Judges and the Army to redeem their past, and to give their country a future.
I would like to end this with my essential premise i.e any system founded on a” return on investment” basis must per force subvert every mechanism of accountability. And if accountability is destroyed as a result, call this system whatever you may, but it cannot be called democracy. Such a system is designed for loot and plunder with immunity. And this has been levied on Pakistan with unprecedented zest since 2008, while the leaders got exponentially richer at the cost of the state, to the hypocritical applause of bought out “intellectuals”, who continued to call this hands off mayhem, a “democracy.”
P.s. The most  malign and effective adjunct of the criminal enterprise is NAB. If the Supreme Court is really serious about seeing its orders being implemented, they must begin with throwing the book at Qamar Zaman Choudhary. They must take the space away from petty hoodlums which they are using to do incalculable harm to the state. And the Court must follow and put away in jail, all those who have committed contempt against it, and are continuing to do so. This will take the pith out of Nawaz Sharif’s “revolution”, and reduce the insignificance, which should always have been his station in life, but for Gen Jilani’s one egregious mistake. Legal action against Nawaz Sharif’s section commanders will take the wind out of the potential anarchy which is being sought to be built up by him, and the instability craved by him will be stayed.
Saeed A. Malik.

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The Hatred of British Against Pakistanis and Indian-History Revisited by Shashi Tharoor

 The Cruelty of British Colonialists Against People of South Asia

Pakistan and India

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Mistakes & Accomplishments of Gen Pervez Musharraf Asif Haroon Raja









Mistakes & Accomplishments of Gen Pervez Musharraf

Asif Haroon Raja

The Army, paramilitary forces and the police are fighting the US dictated war on terror since 2003 but have yet not been able to completely root out terrorism. I will be frank in stating that the Army was not mentally prepared, trained, equipped, acclimatized and motivated when it was suddenly launched to conduct irregular warfare in South Waziristan (SW). As a result, its performance for the first five years was not up to the mark and it suffered reverses. The Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) took advantage of it and managed to gain influence over 18 administrative units in the northwest and became a powerful force to reckon with. A state within state was created in Swat while SW became the main base of operation with its tentacles in other six tribal agencies. Another important factor behind not so good performance of security forces was the double game played by the so-called friends of Pakistan that were on the quiet supporting and creating space for the very terrorists Pakistan was asked to fight. 

Gen Pervez Musharraf was appointed Army chief on October 6, 1998 and soon after he ventured into Dras-Kargil inside Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), which is quite intriguing and raises many questions. It strained civil-military relations and led to the downfall of Nawaz Sharif. As DGMO under Gen Jahangir Karamat, in his operational briefing to the then PM Benazir Bhutto in 1996, he had presented Kargil plan and was keen to execute it. (1). She trashed it realizing its consequences.

Commenting on Kargil conflict in 1999 which had brought the two nuclear rivals close to war with nuclear overtones, Musharraf proudly proclaims, “Our maneuver was conducted flawlessly, a tactical marvel of military professionalism; a plan for plugging gaps between our positions was formally presented and approved towards the middle of January 1999. (2).

According to Lt-Gen (retd) Shahid Aziz who was heading ‘Analysis Wing’ of ISI during the conflict: “The Kargil war was an unsound military plan based on invalid assumptions, launched with little preparation and in total disregard of the  regional and international environment”. (3). Late ex-DG ISI Gen Hamid Gul was also of the view that a military operation without a clear political purpose was like shot in the dark and Musharraf should have faced court martial for his harebrained adventure.

Kargil operation was undoubtedly a brilliant tactical maneuver which caused paralytic effects on the Indian military, but it failed in achieving the objective of de-freezing and internationalizing the Kashmir issue as had been contemplated. It should have been planned in entirety and not as a piecemeal operation. Helped by the US and G-8, India converted its tactical defeat into victory on the media plane.    


Musharraf took over the reins of the country on October 12, 1999 after dethroning the elected government of Nawaz Sharif through a military coup. He wore the hats of President, Army chief and CJCSC and remained in full power till October 2007 after which he shed off his military hats and finally abdicated his President seat in August 2008 and went into exile under an agreement in April 2009. He made a political party All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) and returned home to take part in May 2013 general elections. Not only he was put under house arrest and on Exit Control List, he was debarred from contesting elections. He was charged with several cases which included Benazir Bhutto murder case, Nawab Akbar Bugti murder case, Lal Masjid case and subversion of constitution on November 3, 2007. The last case has been termed as an act of treason and comes under Article 6 of the Constitution. He underwent the embarrassment of media trial and also suffered the stings of hate from his opponents.

After about three years of ordeal, he proceeded to Dubai for medical treatment of his backache and the Supreme Court and the federal government facilitated his exit. The media has been highlighting his wealth in foreign banks/offshore companies and people are asking questions as to how he could amass so much of wealth. Courts are pressing his lawyers to produce him and have issued non-bail-able arrest warrants. He is often seen on the TV channels and known for his power of arguments, he keeps telling his side of the story in reply to number of accusations made against him.  

Mistakes made by Musharraf. Taking stock of his nine years tenure, Musharraf had committed mistakes but he also had done good things. It will be in fitness of things to first dispassionately have a look at those accusations that exist in public memory. Just to recapitulate, I am tabulating these here. First the accusations made against him:

  1. He and his team had no plausible reason to oust a democratically elected government and takeover power.
  2. He should not have accepted all the seven demands of the US after 9/11 and that too without consulting others. He gave in to the US demands too quickly, and cheaply, which set into motion a slippery path for Pakistan, its social fabric, politics and institutions and because of which we are still suffering.
  3. His reason to succumb to US pressure and accept all the demands was that he had been threatened that in case he decided not to side with the US, Pakistan will be bombed to ‘Stone Age’ has triggered a controversy. In his autobiography, “In the Line of Fire” on page 201 he writes: “When I was back in Islamabad the next day, our DG ISI, who happened to be in Washington, told me on the phone about his meeting with the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage. In what has to be the most undiplomatic statement ever made, Armitage added to what Colin Powell had said to me and told the DG not only that we had to decide whether we were with America or with the terrorists, but that if we chose the terrorists, then we should be prepared to be bombed back to the Stone Age. This was a shockingly barefaced threat, but it was obvious that the US had decided to hit back hard”. (4).

But apparently, both of these statements are not correct. There is now enough evidence to prove that there was no direct military threat made to Pakistan. George Bush, Colin Powell and Richard Armitage have all denied in their separate memoirs that they ever threatened Pakistan with military action, let alone the threat of bombing it back to the Stone Age. (5). In his book “Bush at War” at page 59, Bob Woodward writes: “at I: 30 P.M. on 13th September 2001, Powell called Musharraf” and “Musharraf to Powell’s surprise said that Pakistan would support the US with each of the seven actions”.

In 2006, when Bush was asked about the threat made against Pakistan, he claimed that the first time he had ever heard of it was when he had read a report of Musharraf’s remarks in that day’s newspaper. “I guess I was taken aback by the harshness of the words,” said Bush. “All I can tell you is that shortly after 9/11, Colin Powell came in and said, President Musharraf understands the stakes and he wants to join and help root out an enemy that has come and killed 3,000 of our citizens. I don’t know of any conversation that was reported in the newspaper like that. I just don’t know about it”. (6).

  1. Musharraf’s sudden U-turn on Afghanistan and betrayal of Muslim brothers of Afghanistan was flawed and Pakistan is still paying a heavy price for it through blood and flesh. Even now, a resurgent Taliban don’t trust us.
  2. Sending regular troops into South Waziristan (SW) in 2003 at the behest of USA to flush out Al-Qaeda and its sympathizers was in violation of the 1948 Agreement with the tribesmen, and it triggered insurgency in FATA.
  3. He shouldn’t have given a free hand to the CIA and FBI from 2006 onward to track Al-Qaeda in Pakistan. It gave a free hand to the foreign and regional agencies to establish their inter-connected network in Pakistan amongst the aggrieved tribal elements and religious groups. CIA got office space in the ISI headquarters, Pakistani civilians were bombed with drones, and Blackwater agents roamed freely all over Pakistan until Musharraf was replaced by Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani. It was this ‘network of agencies’ that subsequently played havoc with Pakistani lives and targeted key institutions.
  4. Allowing CIA to use Shamsi airbase in Baluchistan for drone strikes helped CIA to bolster BLA, BRA and BLF in Baluchistan and to create space for the launch of TTP in FATA.
  5. Rather than working on his 7 point agenda which had germs of success, his option to create a King’s party comprising of turn coats from other political parties and who were tagged with National Accountability Bureau (NAB) cases was selfish and politically motivated – and eroded whatever good work NAB had been doing. His much trumpeted across the board accountability, both horizontal and vertical went for a six.
  6. Change of policy on Kashmir was a blunder which gave a severe blow to liberation movement in occupied Kashmir. APHC was divided into two factions and Pakistan’s age-old stance based on UN Resolutions was compromised. It antagonized the Kashmir focused Jihadi groups and they chose to join hands with TTP.
  7. Pak military gave a befitting response to Indian aggressive posturing after carrying out a false flag operation on Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001 and carrying out biggest troop deployment along the border after 1971 followed by a military standoff for next ten months.
  8. Indian military withdrew without achieving any objective, but Musharraf caved in on political/diplomatic front under the US pressure. He banned six Kashmiri Jihadi groups and froze their accounts, ceased firing in Kashmir, and gave a written unilateral commitment that Pakistan will not allow its space for use for cross border terrorism. He agreed to allow India to fence the entire length of Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir.
  9. In response, Vajpayee signed peace treaty with Pakistan in January 2004 and assured that all outstanding issues including Kashmir will be resolved through composite dialogue. This was in fact a big trap and Musharraf fell into it.
  10. India quietened the eastern front but on the quiet opened western front and used Afghan soil for carrying out massive covert operations to destabilize, denuclearize and balkanize Pakistan. Additionally, it used eastern front for people-to-people contact but in reality was meant to launch Indian cultural invasion and rob the youth of its fighting spirit and sink it in the pool of fun and frolic.
  11. Rather than making a change in strategy on Kashmir, Musharraf unilaterally changed the Kashmir policy by announcing out of box solution and depriving Pakistan of its principled stance based on UN resolutions. He thus gave a severe blow to freedom movement in Kashmir which in that timeframe had peaked.
  12. While he kept doing more and more, he never realized that USA, India and Afghanistan were not friends but playing a double game; and that Pakistan was not an ally but a target. His yielding to ‘do more’ policy to please the US – often acting in cahoots with India – was detrimental to Pakistan’s interests.
  13. Musharraf’s “Concept of Enlightened Moderation” (apparently drafted by Henry Kissinger Associates) was in contravention to Objectives Resolution and Quaid-e-Azam’s dream of making Pakistan an Islamic welfare state. In his apparent bid to show soft face of Pakistan to the world, he strove to make Pakistan a secular state. This open declaration of secularism hurt the aspirations of the people of Pakistan and ended up igniting storm of religious extremism
  14. Sacking of Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry in March 2007 was a wrong move which triggered lawyers’ movement and led to his fall.
  15. The other mistake he made was going out of the way to politically strengthen MQM about which I am sure the ISI and MI Directorate would have given sufficient information about its linkage with RAW since 1989. It was a miscalculation which he thought was in his own self-interest, but it was his worst sin, which caused grievous harm to Karachi, Pakistan’s economy and jolted Pakistan.
  16. National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) was his biggest blunder which cleansed the entire leadership of PPP involved in mega corruption and 8000 leaders and activists of MQM involved in heinous crimes. Condeela Rice was the moving force behind NRO which envisaged Musharraf-Benazir sharing power for next five years. It enabled the US and the UK to empower their dream team of PPP-MQM-ANP from which it was to execute the final phase of their gory plan of making Pakistan a compliant state.
  17. Musharraf paid no heed to the emerging energy crisis and despite holding all the levers of power and repeatedly pledging that he will construct the Kalabagh dam, he didn’t do so. Answering a question of Dr. Moeed Pirzada on 11th September 2016, Dunya News, he stated about Kalabagh dam: “We couldn’t construct Kalabagh dam due to political situation”. Factually, he aborted the decision to construct Kalabagh Dam after receiving a call from MQM chief Altaf Hussain. The latter is of course remote controlled by foreign agencies and India not wanting Kalabagh dam at any cost must have twisted his arm. But Musharraf oblivious of all that continuously nurtured Altaf Hussain’s MQM during 9 years of his regime.
  18. Although he claims that the Americans never interfered in high rank military postings during his regime, George Bush disclosed in his autobiography that Musharraf resigned from the post of chief of army staff, lifted the emergency and held free elections upon his strong suggestion”in the fall of 2007.( 7 ).
  19. He took official jets to set out on tours of Europe and America on promotional campaigns for boosting the sale of his book “In the Line of Fire”.
  20. Musharraf’s disclosure in the book that the US had paid millions of dollars to Pakistan for capturing Al Qaeda operatives was a humiliation for the country. Under the US law, they cannot give prize money to any government or institution, and the Govt of Pakistan has denied receiving any such payments.
  21. He couldn’t be more wrong when he tried to drag ethnicity as one the key factor for his selection as Army chief. On page 136 of his book he writes “It could be that such affronts on my part made the prime minister realize his folly in selecting me for my position. He had probably thought that being the son of immigrant parents, I would acquiesce in his demands ___ that I would feel insecure and vulnerable and do his bidding.”

Musharraf’s Achievements

He broke the isolation of Pakistan and made it relevant. He strengthened state corporations. After a long time the Railway and PIA became profitable organizations and the Steel Mills for the first time in its history earned largest profit. Inflation and prices remained within limits and value of dollar didn’t cross Rs 60. GDP was above 7% and foreign exchange reserves were increased from $ 3 million to $ 14 billion. Pakistan for the first time in its history came out of the noose of IMF and foreign debts decreased from $ 38 billion to $ 34 billion. Foundation of Diamer Bhasha dam was laid in his time, which was not pursued by the successor political regime. Ghazi Barotha project was completed during his time. There was no shortage of gas and load shedding was minimal. There was boom in property and stocks were bullish.

Al-Khalid tank was developed into a main battle tank and joint manufacture of JF-17 Thunders was undertaken which was quite an accomplishment. He established Strategic Plans Division (SPD) and placed all nuclear/missile related setups under it, which formulated comprehensive nuclear doctrine and gave the concept of minimum nuclear deterrence. Surface to surface, air to air and air to surface missiles were radically improved and work on cruise missiles and drones was initiated. Three Agosta submarines were upgraded and given capability to fire nuclear warheads while remaining 400 feet submerged in sea, giving Pakistan second strike capability. All nuclear facilities were made safe and secure under foolproof multi-layered security system compatible with international standards. Despite the fact that Dr. AQ Khan had passed on designs of old centrifuge to Iran, Libya and North Korea, Musharraf handled the crisis well and disallowed the IAEA to inspect our nuclear arsenal or to interview AQ Khan.

With regard to the oft repeated charge that Musharraf buckled under pressure and cheaply gave in to Colin Powel’s demands, in hindsight I may dare to say that it was not altogether a sellout as generally perceived. Had he refused, the US that had made up its mind to attack Afghanistan and the whole world including the UN was supportive of the military venture, would have taken on Afghanistan and Pakistan in one swipe with its air power as was suggested by India and Israel. Pakistan air force with 700 to 800 aircraft was in no position to counter the aerial cum cruise missile threat of US-NATO having 30,000 warplanes and sophisticated technology. The US-NATO airpower was in good position to destroy our communication, economic, defence infrastructures and nuclear plants.  

Our missile technology was not potent enough to do any damage particularly when the US had satellite jamming and imagery capability. Indian military for certain would have activated the eastern front to engage our ground forces once the PAF, tanks and strategic assets had been taken care of by the US B-52s, Daisy cutters, stealth helicopters and cruise missiles.

As regard the accusation that Musharraf ditched the Taliban at the behest of Washington, the Taliban had no choice but to withdraw and abandon Afghanistan in the face of systematic carpet bombing. They had no means to fight against air power. Had Pakistan been bombed and pushed to Stone Age, the Taliban could not have taken shelter in FATA/Baluchistan, regrouped and then waged a resistance war. It was simply impossible for the Taliban who had been forsaken by the world to carryout sustained struggle for 14 years without receiving training, weapons, equipment, funds and guidance and safe havens for the leaders. Haqqani network in North Waziristan and Quetta Shura could not have functioned at their own. Had it been otherwise, how come Pakistan handed over more than 3 dozens Taliban leaders to Afghan government in 2013 and 2014? It was not possible for Mulla Omar to remain off the radar all these years. He died in April 2013 but these news were learnt in July 2015.

Another accusation against him is that he antagonized the tribesmen by sending regular troops to FATA. Had he not done so, the ISAF troops would have certainly barged into SW to hunt Al-Qaeda as was being threatened. Such a move could have jeopardized the regrouping of Afghan Taliban to wage resistance movement against occupying forces.

Musharraf was also accused of hobnobbing with Israel and holding a meeting with Israeli PM In Turkey, but at the end of the day he neither recognized Israel nor opened up diplomatic relations despite lingering rumors.  But this statement of former and late Israeli President Shimon Peres cannot also be disregarded. “As a good Jewish boy, I would have never dreamed that I would pray for the safety of Musharraf, the president of Pakistan. That is a most unexpected experience.”(8).

I guess Musharraf’s best move was to push forward the Gwadar project with the help of China in 2002, which FM Ayub Khan wanted to develop as a port after he had purchased it from Oman in 1959, but Shah of Iran requested him not to do so. One reason of triggering an armed insurgency in Baluchistan by USA was Gwadar seaport.

His next best move was to sign Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project agreement. Commissioning of this project would have provided India its 40% gas need. India walked out of it not only because of the US pressure and the lure of civil nuclear deal with USA, but also because of the fact that it would have effectively neutralized India’s blackmail through water terrorism. In case of India blocking Pakistan’s water in the three rivers, Pakistan could have retaliated by blocking the vitally needed gas.   

In hindsight, weighing the mistakes and achievements of Gen Musharraf, I leave it to your judgement as to who played a better double game and who had the last laugh.


(1).Interview with “Third Eye Television” 2003

(2). In the Line of Fire, Page 90

(3). Daily Mail 2013, Qaswar Abbas

(4). In the Line of Fire, p 201.

(5). Bush at War by Bob Woodward, p 59.

(6). US threatened to bomb Pakistan back to “the Stone Age” By Kranti Kumara and Keith Jones, September 2006

(7). Decision Points, Autobiography by G.W Bush.

(8). Newsweek magazine, 5 November 2001, Washington

The writer is a war veteran, retired Brig, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Director Measac Research Centre, Director Board of Governors Thinkers Forum Pakistan. He regularly takes part in TV talk shows and seminars and delivers lectures. asifharoonraja@gmail.com 

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