Mohsin Hamid on Pervez Musharraf

From Time Magazine:

A_essay_0901Musharraf’s legacy is a mixed one. Like many Pakistanis, I was appalled when he seized control of Pakistan in 1999. Pakistan had stagnated in the 1990s under the bickering and incompetent elected governments of Benazir Bhutto and her rival Nawaz Sharif. But I recalled the damage done by the oppressive dictatorship of General Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s and had no desire to see Pakistan revert to military rule.

I began to revise my opinion of Musharraf after 9/11. The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in response to terrorism, and the terrorist attack on its parliament later that year led India to threaten to do the same to Pakistan. Musharraf seemed to offer firm leadership in this time of crisis, managing to reverse Pakistan’s policy of support to the Taliban and embarking on a normalization process with India.

By the midpoint of Musharraf’s nine-year rule, a combination of sound economic policies and foreign aid had resulted in rapid growth for Pakistan. Optimism was in the air, and Pakistani friends of mine who had lived abroad for years — artists, bankers, architects, professors — were flocking back home.

Musharraf spoke in favor of tolerance, women’s rights and moderate interpretations of Islam. He liberalized the media, allowing dozens of private television channels to operate and freely criticize the government.

More here.