In Praise of Musharraf

Pervez Hoodbhoy’s attack on Musharraf repeats the usual liberal pieties. Musharraf is not perfect, but a democratically elected leader may well be worse.”

Kamran Nazeer in Prospect Magazine:

Image567fbf8afc4d4eb6b14a344690cbcf54Pervez Hoodbhoy’s critique of General Pervez Musharraf as a leader and as an author, in last month’s Prospect, is depressingly familiar. Of course we wish that Pakistan was a more liberal and democratic society. Of course it faces massive social and economic problems. But simply repeating the same liberal pieties about instituting democracy and strengthening civil society won’t change the situation. Musharraf, on the other hand, just might.

If Musharraf’s memoir, the subject of Hoodbhoy’s review, is to be believed, Musharraf may be the most liberal leader that Pakistan has ever had. That is a strange thing to say of a general who came to power through an armed coup, but the book provides ample evidence of the direction that Musharraf wants to take.

The most striking chapter is about women’s rights in Pakistan. Musharraf cites the case of Mukhtaran Mai, a victim of “honour rape” who now runs schools and a crisis centre. It is unusual for a Pakistani politician to acknowledge, let alone condemn, this custom. Musharraf, quite rightly, didn’t intervene in the legal proceedings at the time, but in the book explains that he sent her money to support her cause when he first heard about the case, and that his government has since spent around £150,000 improving facilities for women in her village.

More here.