1999 - 2008
The Kargil conflict between India and Pakistan and Nawaz's
hurried flight to Washington to end the conflict created bitterness between the Army and Nawaz Sharif government. In October 1999 Nawaz Sharif tried to dismiss the Chief of the Army Staff, General Pervez Musharraf. He ordered to prevent Musharraf's return to Pakistan from abroad by refusing to let
the commercial airplane land, which was forced to circle the Karachi airport until army took over the airport.
Thus the Army seized control of the government in a bloodless coup that lasted less than three hours. Nawaz, as a part of the mutual agreement was flown out of the country to Saudi Arabia while General Pervez Musharraf took over the reins of the government.
As a consequence to frequent changes in the government (4 times since 1988) corruption and bad governance has crept into Pakistan and people of Pakistan were suffering. Moreover, the radical factions of some religious parties also surfaced to disturb the peace in the country. Therefore, the focus of present government has been institution of good governance, improving the economy (foreign exchange reserves from less than $ 500 million in 1999 have risen to over $ 12 billion by 2004) and introduction of Local Government System is taking Pakistan back to the track of development through the concept of "enlightened moderation".
Since 9/11 incident, and American invasion of Afghanistan to eliminate radical Taliban, Pakistan has also come under the terrorist attacks and General Musharraf himself was twice targeted but narrowly escaped both attempts in Rawalpindi. A number of key figures have also been targeted besides bomb attacks on mosques. Presently the government is combating the stronghold of radicals and foreigners in Wana, a tribal area in the FATA/NWFP. The government is also trying to ensure the writ of the government in Balochistan where a few local chieftains have hijacked the local government infrastructure and slaved their people. The government under president Musharraf has taken man a bold decision like building of major dams to ensure wastage of rain / monsoon water into the sea (including raising of the Mangla Dam by 30 feet and go ahead to build Bhasha and Munda Dams). The Makran Coastal Highway and the construction of Gwadar seaport are some of the mega projects that will put the economy of the country on a well articulated and prosperous future. The government's decision to join hands with the US and its allies in their fight against terrorism also brings to forth Pakistan's importance. The vision and foresight of president Musharraf to make Pakistan a forward looking, modern, moderate Islamic country has paved way for development and prosperity of Pakistan.
The year 2007 has been very meaningful in the history of Pakistan. Since this year a number of events brought to fore the role and importance of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and brought many a challenges for the President in uniform. The turmoil started early this year when the President almost sacked the Chief Justice and referred his case to the Supreme Judicial Council of the Supreme Court and to his surprise the Council decided the case in the favour of the Chief Justice. From then on, the role of the lawyers came to forth who staged a series of nation wide protest against the president. The story doesn't end here. The case again went to the court when the re-election of the President in uniform was referred to the court. Although a larger bench of the Supreme Court dismissed the case 6-3 in the favour of the President, the opposition filed yet another case to stop the Presidential elections to be held on 6th of October. The larger bench though allowed the presidential elections to be held as scheduled, also ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan not to announce the official results till 17th October, when it resumed the hearing of the petition filed by the opposition. In the meanwhile, the presidential elections were held on 6th October and the President Musharraf swept the elections by a vast majority of 673 while the only other candidate got 6. While the president has assured the nation and the Supreme Court that he would don off his uniform before he takes over the presidential oath, the final outcome hinges largely on the decision of the Supreme Court on or after 17th October.
Another development that has taken place is the promulgation of a controversial ordinance by the name National Re-conciliation which writes off a number of corruption lawsuits filed against the top ranking politicians of Pakistan that were filed between 1986 and 1999 by the successive governments of Benazir and Nawaz Sharif. While Nawaz Sharif is exiled to Saudi Arabia for 10 years, may consider this ordinance to be favouring Benazir and her husband Asif Ali Zardari who were involved in a number of fraud and corruption cases by Nawaz Sharif and which have not been proven in the courts of law.
The events in Pakistan changed rapidly between March and November 2007. The uncertainty in the country finally led to the imposition of emergency on 3 November 2007 by the Chief of the Army Staff, General Pervez Musharraf and the constitution was held in abeyance. The supreme court judges were ripped off their official status and new judges sworn in under the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) promulgated by the president. While initially all private TV news channels were banned, by and by all but a few more vocal have since been restored. The media and the lawyers continue to protest against lifting of the ban from the media dn restoration of the judiciary under ex Chief Justice Iftikhar. On 28 November General Pervez Musharraf doffed his uniform and General Ashfaq Kiana became the new army chief. On 29 November, General Pervez Musharaf (Retired) assumed the office of the president as a civilian and announced 8 January 2008 as the general election date and 16 December 2007 as lifting of the emergency. In the meanwhile, the deposed PM Nawaz Sharif was also allowed to return to Pakistan and presently the political parties continue to prepare for the elections, while some under the ambit of APDM have so far announced to boycott the elections. Events keep rolling ....
Well events rolled very unfavorably and tragically and the year ended with the tragic death of Benazir Bhutto on 27th December 2007 when she was coming out of a political rally from Liaquat Bagh, as a consequence of gunfire immediately followed by a suicide bomb attack. The cause of death so far remains shrouded in mystery and controversy as the statement on cause of death changed many a times. The final version attributes the death not to the gunfire or the blast but her head hitting the latch of the bulletproof hood - the claim is refuted by the PPP and only days to follow will reveal the true cause of her death. However, in the meantime the country was plunged into a wave of violence and mobs torched over 1000 vehicles, 18 rail engines, 13 railway stations, over 80 railway coaches, countless banks and other buildings including hospitals and ambulances. A rough estimate put the loss to around Rs. 5 billion.
Things still rolled on and the elections finally
came on 18 February 2008. Unexpectedly, the elections were generally fair and
to a great surprise to many, many a king's men were wiped out - like Ch Shujaat Hussain (PML-Q's boss), Sh
Rashid of Lal Haveli fame and many others like Ijaz-ul-Haq, Humayoun Akhtar,
Sher Afghan Niazi etc. On the mathematical table PPPP and PML (N) emerged as the
major victors. MMA was totally wiped out and Maulana Fazal ur Rehman could just
manage one seat. Now the tide is on the reverse side - it is Asif Ali Zardari,
the co-chairperson of PPPP who has emerged as the strong man and has vowed to
take along PML-N in formation of the new government while he has shown no
inclination to work with the ousted and humiliated PML-Q. President Pervez
Musharaf has promised to work with the new set up - but many think that since
his patronized PML-Q has a stunning defeat, this should be taken as a referendum
against him. Both PPPP PML-N have vowed to restore the supreme court judges
including the deposed Chief Justice. If that happens, the very seat of the
President will be under think clouds. What happens next will be another chapter
in the history of Pakistan. So read on our next chapter from 2008 onwards ..
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