With his death, after a protracted illness, former Pakistan
president Pervez Musharraf
leaves behind a Janus-faced legacy in relations with India which saw him presiding over some horrendous acts of terrorism but later, under pressure from the US which reportedly threatened to bomb Pakistan back to the stone age after 9/11, suing for peace.
While he will still be remembered most here for his 1999 Kargil adventurism, a chastened Musharraf meant that the 2 sides arrived at a ceasefire understanding in 2003, facilitating then PM AB Vajpayee’s visit to Pakistan for the Saarc summit next year.
Musharraf’s efforts to seek international legitimacy also saw a reduction in violence during that period and, in 2006, his 4-point peace formula for Kashmir that he arrived at with Vajpayee’s successor Manmohan Singh, bringing India and Pakistan tantalisingly close to a “non-territorial’’ solution.
Musharraf effectively lorded over Pakistan for 10 long years, from the time he was appointed army chief by then PM Nawaz Sharif in 1998 to his resignation as president in 2008.
While Sharif had appointed him army chief, Musharraf lost no time in undercutting the PM’s authority by ordering the Kargil infiltration just 3 months after India and Pakistan signed the Lahore Declaration during Vajpayee’s visit to Pakistan in 1999.
The Declaration, along with the Simla Agreement, continues to provide the basis for the 2 countries to resolve all issues bilaterally. The same year Sharif was overthrown in a military coup by Musharraf.
As former Indian ambassador to Pakistan Sharat Sabharwal says, Musharraf leaves behind a mixed legacy.
“It can be divided into 2 phases. The first, after he had taken over as chief of army staff, was marked by extreme adventurism. Major acts of terrorism like the IC 814 hijacking and the attack on Parliament were carried out under his watch. Later, because of 9/11 and pressure from the West, he adopted a more reasonable position. This was when violence went down and there were back-channel talks,” says Sabharwal.
Pervez Musharraf: From military ruler to forgotten man in Pakistan politics
<p>Former Pakistan army chief and president Pervez Musharraf passed away on Sunday after a protracted battle with a rare health condition called amyloidosis<br /></p>
<p>Musharraf, who served as the army chief for almost nine years (1999-2008), became the 10th president of Pakistan in 2001 and held the position until early 2008.<br /></p>
<p>He was born in pre-partition Delhi on August 11, 1943. After the partition, his family settled in Karachi where he attended Saint Patrick’s School. Later, he joined the Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul and graduated from the institution in 1964.<br /></p>
<p>For his first battlefield experience, he served in the elite Special Services Group (SSG) from 1966-1972. During the 1971 war with India, Musharraf was a company commander of an SSG commando battalion. <br /></p>
<p>In October 1998, he was appointed the chief of army staff by the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif.<br /></p>
<p>On October 12, 1999, his troops took over the Prime Minister House after Sharif prevented Musharraf from landing at Karachi airport upon his journey back from Sri Lanka. Musharraf reacted by declaring a state of emergency, suspended the Constitution and assumed the role of chief executive. <br /></p>
<p>In June 2001, Musharraf became the president of Pakistan.<br /></p>
<p>The 9/11 attacks took place just a few months after Musharraf became the president. He subsequently entered Pakistan into an alliance with the US in the latter’s ‘war on terror.'<br /><br /></p>
<p>Musharraf held a general election in October 2002 during which he allied himself with Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), Muttahida Qaumi Movement and an alliance of six religious parties called Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal.<br /></p>
<p>With this election, Musharraf was able to gather the required two-thirds majority to pass the 17th Amendment which helped legitimise the 1999 coup as well as several other measures adopted by him.<br /></p>
<p>In January 2004, Musharraf won a confidence vote by both houses of the parliament and the four provincial assemblies by a majority of 56 per cent and was declared elected.<br /></p>
<p>In March 2007, Musharraf suspended the then chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry after the latter refused to resign allegedly over abusing his office. The incident unleashed violent protests by lawyers and civil society activists. <br /></p>
<p>On June 20, 2007, the Supreme Court reinstated the chief justice and declared Musharraf’s suspension of the former as void. However, the chief justice was again deposed when Musharraf imposed a state of emergency in the country on November 3, 2007. <br /></p>
<p>During this time, Musharraf resigned from his position of army chief, with General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani taking charge.<br /></p>
<p>The PPP-led coalition government at the centre initiated a parliamentary procedure to impeach him. Musharraf initially refused to resign before voluntarily leaving the post.<br /></p>
<p>Musharraf was also named in the cases pertaining to Benazir Bhutto’s murder, Nawab Akbar Bugti’s killing and the ‘illegal confinement’ of 62 judges after the November 2007 emergency. <br /></p>
<p>Even though he received bail on all three cases, Musharraf was barred from travelling abroad after his name was placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) on April 5, 2013. <br /></p>
<p>The ex-president’s name was, however, struck off the ECL and he flew to Dubai on March 17, 2016 to ‘seek medical treatment’ and never returned.<br /></p>
<p>In September 2018, it emerged that he was ‘growing weaker rapidly’ due to an unspecified illness. A month later, it was revealed that he was suffering from amyloidosis, which had affected his mobility.<br /><br /></p>
Musharraf’s grandstanding was also seen as one of the reasons for the Agra summit debacle in 2001, just before which he had officially appointed himself president. The invite itself by the Vajpayee government to Musharraf for the summit – barely 18 months after the IC814 hijacking – offers quite a contrast to how the NDA government under PM Narendra Modi has chosen to deal with Pakistan with its terror-and-talks-can’t-go-together policy.
Just before the summit, Musharraf even met Hurriyat leaders at the Pakistan high commission and promised them moral and political support. Years later, in 2014, the Modi government effectively drew a red line for any bilateral engagement by calling off then foreign secretary’s visit to Islamabad because the Pakistan high commissioner here had held a meeting with the separatists just before the visit.
This was also the reason the Indian government insisted on calling the 10-point dialogue process launched in 2015 comprehensive `bilateral’ dialogue and not just, as Pakistan initially wanted, comprehensive dialogue.
Despite his peace initiatives, Musharraf in the fullness of time will be remembered more for dragging India into the Kargil war than for his 4-point Kashmir formula. As Sabharwal says, the formula was an important initiative and there was interest on both sides to move forward.
It was possibly the first time that the 2 countries had almost reached an agreement for a non-territorial solution to the Kashmir issue. Musharraf resigned in 2008 after his run-in with the judiciary and the peace formula is now no more than a subject of academic discussion.