The death of former president and military dictator retired Gen Pervez Musharraf triggered an outpouring of grief — and commentary — on the late military ruler’s legacy on Sunday.
Shortly after his death was officially confirmed, politicians, analysts and political commentators took to Twitter to voice their sorrow as well as shed light on his near-decade rule.
Aside from the condolence messages which came from the civilian and military leadership, people of all stripes — even from across the border — had something to say about the late dictator.
Recently released PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said Musharraf was a great person and his friends proved to be small. “Always Pakistan first was his thought and ideology, may God have mercy on him,” he said.
‘More democratic than current regime’
PTI leader Hammad Azhar, however, had a different opinion of Musharraf. He said he was a military dictator and power drunk.
“He made mistakes without any accountability that the country still pays for in blood,” Azhar said. “Yet he was more democratic and humane than the current PDM regime. This speaks volumes about the traits of the current lot.”
‘Now it’s between him and God’
Former PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar said he would refrain from passing any acrimonious remarks over Musharraf’s death.
“Now it’s between him and God”, he said, urging for Musharraf’s burial to be simple, private, and dignified without any official trapping or draping in the national flag.
“No affront to Constitution, to the people, to parliament even if they’re weak and helpless today,” Babar added.
He also remembered Benazir Bhutto. “A thought lurks in the mind today and refuses to die. Some die and die forever. Some die yet live forever. Shaheed Benazir is the one who lives forever.”
Journalist Hamid Mir said it was better if he did not praise or criticise Musharraf after his death, but commented on his heavy legacy. “Akbar Bugti and Benazir Bhutto’s death will always be associated with him. It would have been great if he had cleared his feet of these two stains in his life.”
‘The mighty fall just like the weak’
Journalist Mazhar Abbas termed it an end of an era as “General Pervez Musharraf was no more”.
Journalist Wajahat S Khan said the mighty fall just like the weak. “By our last meeting in 2017, Gen Musharraf had become a shadow of the strongman whom I first met in the 2000s.”
He added that nothing was certain. “Except that fortune favours the brave, and that democracy dies in the dark.”
‘Controversial political role’
Journalist Salman Masood said the news of retired Gen Musharraf’s death came at a time of “heightened political unrest”.
“The last military chief Gen Bajwa’s controversial political role and face-off with Imran Khan’s political party has dipped military’s popularity and raised questions about military’s role in politics,” he said.
‘Departure of a strongman leader’
Indian journalist Malini Parthasarathy said Musharraf’s demise marked the departure of Pakistan’s memorable strongman leaders.
“Even as he flexed the country’s military muscle, he was eager for recognition from India,” she said. “I had the privilege of being the first Indian journalist to interview him. RIP, General!”
Barrister Ali Zafar offered a prayer for Musharraf and spoke about his decision to defend the former president after his conviction.
“The positive side of Musharraf’s legacy was his contributions to free media, police reforms, encouragement of local bodies, promotion of art and culture, education, and the empowerment of the Higher Education Commission through digitisation and technology,” he said, adding that Musharraf virtually opened Pakistan’s doors toward progress and prosperity.
Barrister Zafar also termed the judgement against Musharraf “absurd”.
“Sentencing him to be hanged and ordering his dead body be dragged in the streets, I was enraged. I defended him and called for such ridiculous sentences to be declared illegal by the Lahore High Court. That was the last time I spoke to.”
Mushaal Hussein Mullick, the wife of revolutionary Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik expressed her sadness.
“My condolences and prayers go to his family and loved ones,” she said, praying for patience to be granted to his family members.
A ‘real force’ for Pak-India peace
Indian politician Shashi Tharoor said Musharraf was once an “implacable foe of India but he became a real force for peace from 2002-2007”.
“I met him annually in those days at the UN and found him smart, engaging & clear in his strategic thinking. RIP,” he said.
“Musharraf was a very smart general who leveraged the US need for a regional base to prosecute the war in Afghanistan to his personal advantage,” Shuja Nawaz, an analyst at the South Asia Centre at the Atlantic Council in Washington D.C., told Reuters.
“He failed to build on his early popularity to effect sustainable economic and political reforms […] He failed to understand that his real power came from his uniform.”
’‘Planning and execution of Kargil War’
Mosharraf Zaidi — the chief executive officer of Tabadlad, an Islamabad-based think tank — said the most important legacy Musharraf leaves behind predated his time as president, Reuters reported.
“It was his planning and execution of the Kargil War (against India) — against the judgement of military officers that preceded him and initially unbeknownst to the elected leaders at the time. The 1999 Kargil War permanently altered […] Pakistan.”
Additional input from Reuters
Dear visitor, the comments section is undergoing an overhaul and will return soon.