As celebrities and TV anchors took to remembering General Pervez Musharraf as a military dictator whose progressive policies ultimately led to his own undoing, academics, and activists, including sociologists and historians, present their case against this caricature of Musharraf, says a report in The Nation newspaper.
Ammar Ali Jan, an academic and activist who teaches at the Forman Christian College, Lahore commented on his Facebook page: “From Kargil blunder to Bugti’s killing, Musharraf committed numerous crimes. Yet, for (the) past few years his image was rehabilitated, just like Ayub Khan’s era was repackaged in 1980s.”
For Nosheen Ali, the military dictator was responsible for the misadventure of Kargil that took the lives of over 800 security personnel from Northern Light Infantry (NLI) and trampling the constitution. “Musharraf was a murderer and has much more to be tried for than imposing the Emergency in 2007. I am thinking today about GB, and Kargil and the more than 1,000 who died in Musharraf’s arrogant, unilateral ‘misadventure’,” the academic wrote on twitter.
Ms Ali refers to the “Kargil fiasco” of 1999 and the 1988 massacre of Jalalabad on the outskirts of Gilgit city, the report says.
Journalists Catherine Scott-Clarke and Adrian Levy quoted then ISI chief Hamid Gul as saying that Musharraf was tasked with setting up an office of the Sipah-e-Sahaba, an anti-Shia sectarian outfit in Gilgit town. This was to suppressing Shia political activity in the region. Allegedly, Musharraf, then a brigadier, brought together Pashtun and “tribesmen”, from Kohistan and Diamer who then carried around a rampage against Shia villagers to the south of Gilgit. Official estimates put the death toll at 300. The journalists say some sources have put the toll even above 700. The incident has since been called the “Jalalabad massacre”.
Another twitter user, Javaria Waseem, wrote: “Every time I see Musharraf, I’m reminded of women like Mukhtaran Mai and Shazia Khalid and it breaks my heart.”
Musharraf had placed Mai on an Exit-Control List, after he accused her of “defaming” Pakistan on international forums. The rape case of Dr Shazia Khalid was what is believed to have sparked the 2005 Balochistan uprising and subsequent military operation and the killing of Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti.
Some have also reminded Pakistanis that the former president also “sold” innocent Pakistanis as “terrorist” suspects to the US military. In exchange for money, the National Commission for Enforced Disappearances stated in 2018 that as many as 4,000 Pakistanis were given to foreign countries as suspects of terrorism including a six months child also acknowledged by the dictator in his book.
In terms of Karachi’s politics, journalist Wajahat Kazmi tweets: “The biggest crime of Musharraf was empowering the weak MQM once again which not only killed all the participating police officers of Karachi Operation but also terrorized Karachi including May 12 carnage. He was in cahoot with traitors like Altaf Hussain.”
Musharraf is believed to have empowered the MQM and overlooked some of its criminal activities in the attempt to suppress the PPP in the metropolitan center.
Musharraf has been credited with allowing the flourishing of private media channels, and for promoting a more modern and “Western” Pakistani identity.
The military dictator was convicted by a special court last week for arresting judges and abrogating the constitution, a crime punishable by the death sentence according to the Pakistani constitution, the newspaper concludes.