This is a piece from Shahid Javed Burki – one of the saner commentators on the Pakistani newspapers. He has the ability to look at world in a more global context!
One way to look at what Zia’s rule did to Pakistan as well as his extremist and terrorism policy of strategic depth did.. it would be good to see the Per Capita GDP stats of Pakistan vs India for 1989 and 1999. In 1989 Pakistan was far ahead of India’s stat.. but by 1999 Pakistan had been left tottering way back… A decade of mal-intentioned violent policies did it in for our neighbors..
… if they could learn from it!
LET me return for a moment to the Zia period in order to go forward with the analysis I began to offer in this space last week. The third takeover by the military was poorly timed; in fact, the country would have benefited from the political accommodation that seemed on the way between the government headed by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the forces of opposition. Military intervention set back the process of political maturation.
Was it political ambition that propelled General Ziaul Haq to take over power? Or, had the military senior command, given the rapid deterioration of law and order on the street, become too restive to be ignored by the chief of staff? I asked these questions in several conversations I had with President Zia but he always maintained that the law and order situation had deteriorated to the point where the military had no choice but to intervene.
It is interesting that of the four generals who have led the military into Pakistan’s political space only the first, Muhammad Ayub Khan, admitted that he had planned that action for a long time. All others have pleaded that they reacted to extraordinary circumstances. The position they took reflected the thinking on political development at the time of their intervention. In the late 1950s, there was a widely accepted view among political and economic experts that military rule could hasten development in developing societies. That view changed after the spectacular failure of military regimes in many parts of the world in the half century after Ayub Khan’s coup d’etat.