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THIRD MILITARY RULE 1999:

THIRD MILITARY RULE, 1999: General Pervez Musharraf moved against the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on 12 October 1999 He was persuaded to take this action because of the changes that were being introduced by the prime minister in the military’s senior management On 12 October the prime minister dismissed General Musharraf while he was flying back from Colombo to Karachi, and appointed one of the generals who were close to him as his successor This move was not acceptable to the military, which took over the country’s airports, television and radio stations, and other strategic assets while General Musharraf was still en route to Karachi The general’s plane landed safely at the Karachi airport and he flew on to Islamabad to proclaim himself the country’s chief executiveOnce General Musharraf had taken over as the head of the new military government, he moved quickly to bring about economic stabilization He appointed a number of professionals to manage the economy, and promised to bring growth back to the country The first two years of the Musharraf period, from 1999 to 2001, were spent in stabilizing the economic situation This was done with the assistance of the International Monetary Fund, which persuaded Islamabad to adopt a very conservative fiscal strategy The result of this was a slowdown in the rate of economic growth to only 3 percent a year This was not enough to provide for the poorer segments of the population



The pool of poverty consequently increasedThe terrorist attack on the United States of 11 September 2001 brought a fundamental change in Pakistan’s fortunes With General Musharraf deciding to side with the United States, he gained recognition as Pakistan’s legitimate leader, a status that was denied him following the overthrow of a democratically elected government, and large amounts of foreign capital also began to flow into the country This helped to revive economic growthWhile the performance on the economic front was impressive General Musharraf did little to open the political system to larger participation by the people In fact, he brought the army into a number of areas in which it had not encroached under the previous military administration Serving and retired senior officials of the military were given positions of importance in the government and also became managers of various parts of the public sector The result of this was growing resentment against the military’s role in managing the countryDuring Musharraf’s period, the Islamic parties managed to create an important place for themselves in the political landscape This poses a serious challenge for the president since he has vowed to modernize various aspects of the Pakistani society by implementing a program that he labels “enlightened modernization”Pervez Musharraf has held the reins of power for more than six years

Barring an accident or some unfortunate event-there were two unsuccessful attempts on his life in December 2003-he could govern the country for several more years He has already indicated his intention to contest the presidential elections scheduled to be held in 2007 By that time he would have governed for eight years; another five years as president would extend his tenure to 2012, a total of 13 years This would be the longest period in office by one leader in Pakistan’s history It would also be the most significant since it will define what kind of country and state Pakistan will become In October 1999, when General Musharraf assumed power, Pakistan had begun to be described as a rapidly failing state He may have rescued the country from following that course but whether he will succeed in pulling Pakistan back from the abyss towards which it was headed will depend upon a combination of circumstances-the general’s ability to address the five challenges he faces at the end of 2005 and the way the still-building conflict between the forces of radical Islam and the West shape up

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