|low graphics version | feedback | help|
|You are in: Talking Point|
Tuesday, 26 June, 2001, 13:10 GMT 14:10 UK
Should Musharraf be president?
Pakistan's military leader, General Pervez Musharraf, is moving to consolidate his power by naming himself president while remaining head of the army.
He has announced the formal dissolution of the national assembly and the removal of the figurehead head of state, President Rafiq Tarar.
General Musharraf seized power in a military coup in October 1999, naming himself chief executive, and has resisted foreign pressures to hold elections before October 2002.
Correspondents say the general wants to attend his first summit meeting with regional rival India on 14 July with the title of negotiator to bolster his credibility.
Should General Musharraf name himself president before next year's elections? Does the title give him legitimacy to negotiate with India?
This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
I think he is a man who can do a great deal for the country. He is the only leader from our country that has given the press not much but some freedom to express their thoughts. He has given interviews to international news agencies and has answered all their questions without any hesitation. This shows that he thinks what he is doing is right for the country. Besides I think whoever is on top gets what he wants!
Munir Khan, Pakistan
General Musharraf has a definite agenda that includes reviving the economy, formulating an effective policy to get rid of foreign loans and devolution of power. Assumption of presidentship by him will make his task easier. Political leaders are incapable to do anything for the country and the people of Pakistan will welcome him as head of state. The country has to return to democracy, but it is necessary not to let the corrupt politicians come to power again and our new president has some plan to protect the nation from the corrupt and filthy lot.
It is amazing to watch the hypocritical stance of the western nations. You demand that Pakistan should restore the so-called democracy which has ruined our nation, while we hear no demand against the many countries in the world where undemocratic forces are in place secured by your support. As far as the changes and leadership of Pakistan is concerned, I think no one else does have the right to dictate the set-up we choose. As someone else already pointed out, President Musharraf might not be democratically elected, but he does have acceptance in the population. I think that Pakistan finally has got a government that rules with one goal and vision in sight - the betterment of Pakistan. We can already see some signs, the decrease of corruption, slow increase in investment, and government institutions, like the steel mill, are finally turning a profit.
Liaqat Malik, Canada
It is a healthy and certainly a welcome change to see that the General, unlike his predecessors, has not indulged himself in the ever-inviting red carpet luxuries. Examples from the past "democratic dictators" which seem to be absent for the last two years are certainly in the right direction. These include his relatively small international "entourages". I don't recall him chartering a PIA jet for his friends and family to accompany him on his official visits. Credit has to be given to his humility - something rare in Pakistan, and a trait probably forgotten and difficult to recognise.
The latest steps taken by General Musharraf only go to show that, here we have a country that is run not by its people - but by one individual. I think the leaders of the world are to be blamed for this latest happening, as they have not put enough pressure on him and tacitly supported Musharraf in his endeavours. The latest endeavour by the Indian Prime Minister to talk with a self appointed person goes to strengthen the arms of a person like Musharraf.
Musharraf did what he should have done for the stability of Pakistan. He deserves this position. May Allah bless him.
Tauheed Ahmed, USA
As a citizen of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Musharraf (and for that matter ANY Pakistani) has the right to be the president or prime minister of Pakistan. The world has absolutely no right to "impose" their say on Pakistan. Constitution of Pakistan requires the president to be Muslim which Musharraf is. The army is responsible for the stability and existence of the country and this involves the security from outside and inside of Pakistan.
The leader our nation deserves and needs has yet to be found/born. I wait for that day with all my heart. It matters not who is the President. All the people in positions of power in my country are merely there for selfish reasons - if they wanted the good of the country, we wouldn't have been declining all these years. Musharraf or Tarar - neither! We need a miracle.
Dalaver Anjum, USA
I do not see any weight in the argument that he should become President to negotiate with India. He has no legitimacy to do that. The army's only legal mandate to rule is till next year and to restore democracy. His position will be further weakened if he appoints himself as president with the pretext of dialogue with India.
General Musharraf as president, so what! His concern is to make peace among two old rivals, is that bad for the whole world? Certainly not. I think the only reason why the democracy is not working in Pakistan is its corrupt politicians who change their loyalties more often then one can imagine. I think they have never been loyal to Pakistan. Their presence is just to make sure that Pakistan does not do well economically or in relations with its neighbours. General Musharraf is doing a great job here for a better, and peace loving Pakistan. Best of luck General!
The problem is that it will be an open invitation for future generals and military heads of Pakistan to usurp power via unconstitutional and possibly brutal means. Even if one assumes that Musharraf is better than the past politicians, what's the guarantee that in the future some despotic person like Zia doesn't declare himself as a successor? History is witness to how Pakistan is still suffering from things like sectarianism and fundamentalism because of a few such autocrats in the past.
Sara Malik, Pakistan
Being an Indian, growing up abroad, and having had several Pakistani friends, it is indeed sad that while sharing the same culture, language, and heritage, our two nations have not been able to see eye to eye ever since being divided some 54 years ago. If Vajpayee and Musharraf can sort out at least some of our differences, I think it would be a great leap forward in bilateral relations. While Musharraf has shamelessly ignored democracy, as an Indian having witnessed just how horrible our relations have been in the past, I would be more than happy if our countries would at least reach some agreements.
While recognizing Musharraf as President, India has only done what it has to in order to keep relations cordial prior to the summit. At the end of it, self-appointed or not self-appointed, what's more important for India and Pakistan is that they stop hating each other and get the ball rolling in the right direction.
In the present situation Musharraf is the only choice we have. At least he is not corrupt as the so-called democratically elected but acted like dictators in the previous governments. Go Musharraf and achieve the goals you have set for the nation.
General Musharraf induction as the President of Pakistan is no surprise to anyone in Pakistan. We are happy to have the general instead of corrupt politicians! As far as democracy is concerned, I want to ask one question was there any democracy in Pakistan? There is no system as yet in this country, we are still waiting for the right system to fit our requirement! Therefore people should not worry about us, we are happy with the change, and support the transition.
Certainly a democratic system is better than military rule. But what is the use of democracy if people are suffering. Even though what Genera; Musharraf did was not politically correct, the economy of the country is much better now than the time Pakistan was ruled by democratically elected prime Ministers who are corrupted.
On the other hand he does not have the people's mandate to become the president.
Therefore his title does not give him the legitimacy to negotiate with India.
It's a sense of deja-vu seeing Mr. Musharraf become President. Some people are hailing it saying that he shall save Pakistan from the corrupt politicians, but that was what everybody thought when former generals assumed power. I believe after some years, everybody will hail the next elected government as their saviour from the military rule. This cycle sadly looks to go on continuously in Pakistan, with each ruler worse than his predecessor.
All of have no right to talk unless you have actually lived in Pakistan and felt the rule of the corrupt and inept politicians. People talk about democracy but what good is it when the people who are elected rob and loot the country. The Army is patriotic and very efficient. They will do a much better much job running the country than any politician. Military dictatorship sounds bad but that is what Pakistan needs right now. And as a final thought, notice it is the people inside Pakistan who support the general while people living outside support the corrupt politicians. Why because outsiders don't know one thing about Pakistan.
General Musharraf is just trying to get Pakistan out of the economic slump our beloved ex-rulers left Pakistan in. If in doing so
he needs to be the president, more power to him, if in doing so he needs more time before elections are held, he
should take his time. These people that are whining about democracy and elections are the people who want to get in
For the first time somebody honest is trying to give us a prosperous Pakistan, let him at least try
and stop putting hurdles in his way. I hope General Musharraf is able to accomplish what he has hoped for a better future
It's the best news for Pakistan since its creation. A strong leader like him is needed at this crucial time when we as Pakistanis are dealing with internal and external turbulences. He seems to have the right insight to deal with issues like rebuilding the economy while keeping a check on our neighbours. The world at large needs to stop pressing for democracy and let him do his job as he's doing what the majority of Pakistanis want.
For one to think that democracy can work in Pakistan is to ignore reality. Moreover, history shows that a more authoritarian system may be more conducive to development of the economy and eventually, civil society. Indeed, Pakistan was once the model of economic development before the first Bhutto took power.
To all those who have pinned their hopes on Musharraf to "rescue" Pakistan from democracy, I'd like to ask: what if it turns out he's not up to the job of running the country? How are you going to get rid of him? Vote him out of office?
From the point of view of the democracy it is unacceptable. But in Pakistan the case is different. I think the people in my neighborhood will accept the General rather than corrupted politicians like Benazir, Nawaz Sherif and their ilk who robbed the nation.
I agree totally with Mohammed from Pakistan. Musharraf's accession to the presidency does contradict the very meaning of democracy. The word means government by the people. Musharraf was not democratically elected, therefore he has absolutely no right to become Pakistan's President.
Pakistan once again is exposed as an immature society, incapable of adhering to basic democratic principles. If the General feels that by declaring himself President, Indian policy will in any way be influenced with regards to the forthcoming talks with India over Kashmir, he is sadly deluded, as are others who subscribe to that logic.
Once again we see a dictatorship taking roots in Pakistan. It is a great tragedy for the democracy and Pakistan. This appointment is unjustified and unconstitutional.
I think Pakistan and the Muslim community need someone like him. Pakistan should be proud of him.
Muhammad Mahmood, Pakistan
We did not choose or decide to have Musharraf as President. He chose himself. Would non-Pakistanis please stop pretending that we had any choice. We did not. That's why it's wrong. The country's strategic goal is nothing if the people are enslaved by an oppressive martial power.
Pakistan needs honest administrators, not corrupt politicians. Go, Musharraf.
I don't understand why everyone is making such a fuss of a routine thing, routine as far as democracy in Pakistan is considered. He is following in the footsteps of his predecessors. I think he is the fourth one to do so in 50-odd years.
Syed Rizwan Ahmed, Berlin, Germany
I would say yes, he is right. He should take that command and required position for the problems of our country. Since he came to power he is acting positively compared to the past traitors. Good luck to Pervez Musharraf with his abilities.
Musharraf should start building a solid foundation for democracy in Pakistan and gradually give up power. When the general is gone, the next unelected ruler might be just as corrupt as the old gang of politicians who lost power.
Fahad Jafri, USA - Pakistan
A cursory glance at Pakistani history will reveal that Pakistan has suffered war, civil war and the rising tide of religious fundamentalism during the tenure of former generals who seized power and named themselves Presidents - namely Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan and Zia-ul-Haq. And all of them assumed power trying to "save" Pakistan from civilian democratic governments.
I am convinced that if Musharraf stood for election as president of Pakistan against the corrupt former rulers that sit in palaces abroad and dream of returning for another round of loot and plunder of that unfortunate country, he would win hands down! The people of Pakistan have wised up to the politicians who have brought the country to the brink of bankruptcy.
Asfandiyar Khanzada, USA
I think Musharraf is not much different from his predecessor military dictator Zia. He will play the same role as his predecessor did and will remain in power until the end of his life. The world should take a serious note of this. The worst democracy is far better than the best dictator.
Dr. Behjat H. Syed, Karachi, Pakistan
At last General Pervez Musharraf has finally declared himself President. Well done, you should have done it sooner. I have been reading some of the other letters from people who have E-mailed in, and the ones that don't agree have no links with Pakistan at all. How do you know what it's like now? Have you been to Pakistan lately? President Musharraf has done more for Pakistan in eighteen months than two corrupt prime ministers before him have done put together. They took Pakistan to the brink of bankruptcy, while they spent billions of rupees for themselves abroad in the UK and USA, so please do not tell us Pakistanis that it shouldn't be allowed. Give the man a chance.
Kevin Fernandes, Canada
To the common man names such as CEO, COO, President, Head of State do not make a big difference. I do not care what he calls himself as long as he genuinely believes in the peace and prosperity of the subcontinent, especially Kashmir.
I believe the rule of law and fair elections should prevail. This is a case of an illegal arrogant take-over that may lead to civil war.
Nothing will change in Pakistan. Corruption will prevail. What the country needs is a new constitution.
Albert Devakaram, India
Yes, I am delighted to hear the news! For once Pakistan is run by educated people and it's thanks to General Musharraf. He has a vision, he is honest and I believe he will put Pakistan back on track.
He could have held a referendum. He is going to India with hopes of getting a plebiscite for the Kashmiri people. The least he could do is demonstrate the same faith with the Pakistani people. I guess he is just power hungry.
The new step of the Pakistani ruler to declare himself as President Of The Islamic Republic Of Pakistan is illegal and unconstitutional. Pakistan was created by the politicians not the army. The army are the watchers of the border, they should not look after state affairs.
The circumstances are going toward destabilising the country. He should hold elections and the army should go back to their duty.
Rao Asif, Pakistan
Yes, he should be the president from the very first day he came into power. He is a thousand times better than these corrupt, robber politicians who have destroyed the country.
Pakistan has been unfortunate in that everyone wants to lead but does not want to be led. Everyone wants the rule of law but wants to be an exception himself/herself. Everyone wants to talk of discipline but does not want it to apply to him. It has been, it is and it will continue to remain ungovernable as long as the bureaucracy has a hold - they are the ones actually in power and not Musharraf, Chief Executive, President or whatever.....
Illegal and unconstitutional act by the dictator.
Yes, definitely Musharraf will be accepted everyone, because here in Pakistan most of the politicians acted for themselves not for the nation. This is the right time to take charge as the president of Pakistan. The effect on talks with India will also be good. Now Musharraf is in a position to solve the Kashmir issue. May Allah give him more power to solve the problems of Pakistan (AMIN).
Kashif Akhtar, UK
"Musharraf bans democracy rally"... "Musharraf seizes presidency" - Wake up, world, doesn't that tell everyone how sincere his "talk" of restoring democracy really is? The only way that will ever happen is with Benazir - she's the only hope for any REAL leadership and/or democracy in Pakistan.
Saba Rana, Pakistan
I think the West needs to understand and accept that democracy does not suit all countries, even though most of the Western countries have been brainwashed to believe that. Good luck, Musharraf!
He is doing the right thing. He is probably the most sincere ruler we have. Our politicians don't deserve to serve us - we know how they have served us.
What democracy - Pakistan is full of politicians who are nothing more than natural born liars! One wonders if India would have come to the table to negotiate if a boneless civilian government was in place! Let's not forget he has cracked down on corruption and is sorting out the finances of the country - after its rape by the politicians!!
Hmmmm, yeah. I get myself a gun, get some troops and some back up from people without backbone and then I'm the legitimate leader of England? I don't think so.
Yes, Mushy should declare himself the King of Pakistan instead of messing around with Presidency. I mean Presidents are dime a dozen these days you see. Way to go Mushy.
Khurram Qayam, Germany
Of course this is an excellent decision and should be taken quite early. Because when you see the history of Pakistan, most of the development was done and most of the things were streamlined under military rule. As we all know very well, our politicians are basically the ones who really made our country almost insolvent. I wish Mr Pervez Musharraf best of luck from the core of my heart.
Yesterday, I attended a lecture by Kofi Annan in which he considered the importance of democracy as an international issue. Interestingly, a question asked from the floor by an Indian gentleman questioned whether democracy should be enforced where it has proved to be fickle, unaccountable and corrupt. That which applies politically to India clearly applies even more strongly in Pakistan. I have no doubt that the military takeover is the sole reason why we have not seen bloody civil unrest in the country in the past few years. Musharraf is the only hope for Pakistan, and if that means him assuming the Presidency, then we should ignore the protestations of the PPP and others, and give the man a chance to do his best for his country.
Should Musharraf be president? Hmmm, I don't know. What have the Americans decided?
Musharraf's performance during the past two years may not be a remarkable improvement over his predecessors. However, at least he's sincere and not corrupt!! By Pakistani standards that means a lot.
So, next time he goes to England he will change his title to King so that he can be treated accordingly by the Queen.
Syed Murtaza Zaidi, Pakistan.
General Musharraf has just made a blunder. He is supposed to hold elections within a year to restore democracy in Pakistan. This is the Commonwealth stand and it will not change. By naming himself President of Pakistan, he has done something illegal. Negotiating with India over Kashmir does not warrant him to promote himself to the presidency. He has to rescind this title and go back to the barracks the job he is trained to do.
Pervez Musharraf is the right choice as long as he does not idolise his predecessors. I am not really amazed at him but rather the judiciary that keeps harping on the powers that be. History repeats itself once again. Let's see if Musharraf repeats the history or not. Musharraf must remember that Gen Zia is and will be the most hated person in Pakistan.
YES, he should be president of Pakistan forever. There is no choice among politicians. He is sincere with our country.
Yes, it's a good decision. Now his position is better and he may negotiate as head of state. He is a soldier and knows better what to do
It should come as no surprise that this has occurred. I don't see honest elections anytime soon. Nor do I think will India, or any other
legitimate government, will see Musharraf for other than what he is: a military thug not about to give up his position without a fight. A title does not a legit leader make.
Yes he should be president, he has achieved some great results in the short term. He now needs to get a civilian government in for November 2002 and remain president to ensure that the new government remains in order and the old corrupt politics remain out of the new government of Pakistan.
Why not? George W Bush did it!
Syed Murtaza Zaidi, Pakistan.
It is bad news for all democracy-loving people in the world. Gen Musharraf's elevation as president will ensure the disintegration of four provinces of Pakistan. Elevation of another General called Ayub Khan was the root of breakdown of two wings of Pakistan in 1971. Now Gen Musharraf is paving the way for disintegration of remaining four provinces. The free world should not recognise him as a true representative of people of Pakistan and should press for an early return to democracy.
He should name himself president because it will be better to talk with an opposing party in a situation where I can take decisions
Mohammad Tarif Khan, Pakistan
So the cat finally comes out of the bag. People who had understanding of politics knew the true colours of the so-called "Defender of the TRUE DEMOCRACY". General Musharraf is no different from other dictators - he was like a wolf in sheep's clothing. It also shows the hypocritical double standards of Western governments by not condemning the dictator's tyrannical government and breaking all links with him. In future, how can someone condemn the actions of fundamentalists if they take power by force?
Musharraf is an EVIL imposed on Pakistan. His only reason to capture power was to save his own soul. The 1999 coup was a pre-planned drama. His regime is illegal, and even current attempts to capture all the powers of Pakistan will lead the nation to hell. The Western world should oppose his rule.
The man needed some kind of authority before entering into talks with India. It will not harm the chances for return to civilian rule as long as the general does not get himself involved in too many red carpet receptions.
Yes, because after the army government the overall circumstances of the country are better. Many of the government institutions like the railway are going to earn profits. Everything is streamlined. Government employees are regular at duties and corruption has also decreased. So Musharraf should be the president for the next five-year term. It is also better for Musharraf's position during India-Pakistan dialogues.
20 Jun 01 | South Asia
Musharraf names himself president
19 Jun 01 | South Asia
Date set for India-Pakistan summit
25 Mar 01 | South Asia
Musharraf firm on election timetable
24 May 01 | South Asia
23 Mar 00 | South Asia
Profile: General Pervez Musharraf
30 Apr 01 | South Asia
Musharraf bans democracy rally
28 May 01 | South Asia
Musharraf optimistic over talks
07 Jun 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Pakistan
24 Aug 00 | South Asia
India and Pakistan: Troubled relations
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Other Talking Points:
Links to more Talking Point stories
|^^ Back to top
News Front Page | World | UK | UK Politics | Business | Sci/Tech | Health | Education | Entertainment | Talking Point | In Depth | AudioVideo
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy