Remembering Pervez Musharraf (1943-2023): A True Patriot Who Made Pakistan Stronger

President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan passed away this week. May his soul rest in peace. Amen. He was a true patriot who honestly served his country to the best of his ability. He strengthened his country's economy, society and military. Per capita incomes of Pakistanis doubled on his watch, lifting the country from a low-income to a middle-income country. His government liberalized media and telecommunications, leading to rapid growth in both industries.  President Musharraf dramatically accelerated his people's human development by investing heavily in education and healthcare. After what has transpired in recent years, most Pakistanis will remember his time in office as a golden age for the country. 

President Pervez Musharraf 1943-2023

Higher education reform backed by huge increases in spending led to a large increase in college and university enrollment and graduation rates. He halved Pakistan's debt burden and doubled exports during his 8 years in office. Pakistan built up credible nuclear deterrence by ensuring development of a variety of nuclear-capable missiles of various ranges. Pakistan developed the JF-17, its first indigenous fighter jet aircraft with China, and the Pakistan Air Force started deploying it during the Musharraf years.  He negotiated the upgrade of PAF F-16s and acquisition of dozens of new F-16s. 

Pakistan Debt and Fiscal Deficit Trend 2000-2020

In 1999, President Pervez Musharraf inherited a massive debt of 100% of GDP run up by the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) governments in the 1990s. Musharraf's policies not only revived the bankrupt economy but also brought down debt to 52% of GDP by 2007. 

Pakistan Debt to GDP 1995-2021. Source: IMF

PPP Government's 2008 Letter to IMF:

In a letter to the International Monetary Fund in 2008, the PPP government hailed Musharraf's economic record without mentioning his name in the following words:

"Pakistan's economy witnessed a major economic transformation in the last decade (2000-2008). The country's real GDP increased from $60 billion to $170 billion, with per capita income rising from under $500 to over $1000 during 2000-07.....the volume of international trade increased from $20 billion to nearly $60 billion. The improved macroeconomic performance enabled Pakistan to re-enter the international capital markets in the mid-2000s. Large capital inflows financed the current account deficit and contributed to an increase in gross official reserves to $14.3 billion at end-June 2007. Buoyant output growth, low inflation, and the government's social policies contributed to a reduction in poverty and improvement in many social indicators". (see MEFP, November 20, 2008, Para 1).

Pakistan Manufacturing Value Added 2000-2021. Source: World Bank


Savings and Investments:

Domestic savings rate reached 18% of the GDP and foreign direct investment (FDI) hit a record level of $5.4 billion in 2007-8. This combination of domestic and foreign investments nearly tripled the size of the economy from $60 billion in 1999 to $170 billion in 2007, according to IMF. Exports nearly tripled from about $7 billion in 1999-2000 to $22 billion in 2007-2008, adding millions of more jobs. Pakistan was lifted from a poor, low-income country with per capita income of just $500 in 1999 to a middle-income country with per capita income exceeding $1000 in 2007.
FDI in the Musharraf years came in many sectors, ranging from telecommunications to manufacturing.
Several mobile phone and Internet service operators built networks worth billions of dollars. Without this telecom infrastructure, there would be no tech industry, no freelancers and no fast-growing tech exports today.

New cement plants met growing demand that more than doubled cement consumption, FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) sector took off to meet demand from growing middle class and production of cars and motorcycles jumped. 
Human Capital Development: 

In addition to the economic revival, Musharraf focused on the social sector as well. Pakistan's Human Development Index (HDI) score grew an average rate of 2.7% per year under President Musharraf from 2000 to 2007, and then its pace slowed to 0.7% per year in 2008 to 2012 under elected politicians, according to the 2013 Human Development Report titled “The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World”.

Primary Enrollment Source: Economic Survey of Pakistan

Youth Literacy Rate Source: Economic Survey of Pakistan

Pakistan University Enrollment Jumped in Musharraf Years. Source: W...

Overall, Pakistan's human development score rose by 18.9% during the Musharraf years and increased just 3.4% under elected leadership since 2008. The news on the human development front got even worse in the last three years, with HDI growth slowing down as low as 0.59% — a paltry average annual increase of under 0.20 per cent. Going further back to the  decade of 1990s when the civilian leadership of the country alternated between PML (N) and PPP,  the increase in Pakistan's HDI was 9.3% from 1990 to 2000, less than half of the HDI gain of 18.9% on Musharraf's watch from 2000 to 2007.

R&D Spending Jumped 7-fold as % of GDP 1999-2007 Source: World ...

Acceleration of HDI growth during the Musharraf years was not an accident.  Not only did Musharraf's policies accelerate economic growth, helped create 13 million new jobs, cut poverty in half and halved the country's total debt burden in the period from 2000 to 2007, his government also ensured significant investment and focus on education and health care. The annual budget for higher education increased from only Rs 500 million in 2000 to Rs 28 billion in 2008, to lay the foundations of the development of a strong knowledge economy, according to former education minister Dr. Ata ur Rehman. Student enrollment in universities increased from 270,000 to 900,000 and the number of universities and degree awarding institutions increased from 57 in 2000 to 137 by 2008. Government R&D spending jumped from 0.1% of GDP in 1999 to 0.7% of GDP in 2007. In 2011, a Pakistani government commission on education found that public funding for education has been cut from 2.5% of GDP in 2007 to just 1.5% - less than the annual subsidy given to the various PSUs including Pakistan Steel and PIA, both of which  continue to sustain huge losses due to patronage-based hiring.

Pakistan's High-Tech Exports Tripled as % of Manufactured Exports. ...

Pakistan textile exports more than doubled from $5.2 billion to more than $11 billion during the Musharraf years. Exports soared 19.43% in 2001, 20% in 2004, 24.5% in 2005 and 11.23% in 2006, all on President Musharraf's watch, according to "The Rise and Fall of Pakistan's Textile Industry: An Analytical View" published by Javed Memon, Abdul Aziz and Muhammad Qayyum.     

Pakistan Textile Exports Growth. Source: Javed Memon

Pakistan experienced rapid economic and human capital growth in the years 2000 to 2008 on President Pervez Musharraf's watch. Savings, investments and exports hit new records and the rate of increase in human development reached new highs not seen before or since this period.  Without this human capital, there would be no tech industry, no freelancers and no fast-growing tech exports today.

Employment Growth in South Asia. Source: World Bank

Pakistan's employment growth was the highest in the South Asia region in 2000-2010, followed by Nepal, Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka in that order, according to a World Bank report titled "More and Better Jobs in South Asia".

Comparing Per Capita GDP Trajectory in South Asia. Source: The Economist

Until 2010, Bangladesh was a laggard in the South Asia region. Its per capita income was about half of Pakistan's. Now Bangladesh's per capita GDP is higher than both India's and Pakistan's. What changed? The biggest change is Bangladeshi leader Shaikh Hasina's decision to stifle the unruly Opposition and the media to bring political and economic stability to the South Asian nation of 160 million people. It has eliminated a constant sense of crisis and assured investors and businesses of continuity of government policies. With development taking precedence over democracy, Shaikh Hasina followed the example of Asian Tigers  by focusing on export-led economic growth of her country. She incentivized the export-oriented garment industry and invested in human development. Bangladesh now outperforms India and Pakistan in a whole range of socioeconomic indicators: exports, economic growth, infant mortality rate, primary school enrollment, fertility rate and life expectancy.    

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Comment by Riaz Haq on February 7, 2023 at 7:23pm

Thousands attend funeral of ex president of #Pakistan Pervez #Musharraf. General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, chairman Joint Chiefs, former army chiefs, Qamar Javed Bajwa & Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, several retired and serving officers attended. #Karachi

Pakistan’s former president Pervez Musharraf was buried on Tuesday in his family’s hometown, the southern port city of Karachi, a day after a special plane transported his body from the United Arab Emirates where he died at the weekend.

About 2,500 mourners, including Musharraf’s family and relatives; senior politicians and retired and serving military officials, attended the funeral at a military cemetery inside a high-security area in Karachi, the capital of southern Sindh province.

Mr Musharraf, who died at age 79, seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999 by ousting the elected government of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, whose younger brother Shahbaz Sharif is now the country’s prime minister.

Amir Muqam, a senior leader from Sharif’s party, attended the funeral. Musharraf’s coffin was draped in the national flag in a sign of respect, though the ceremony was not a state funeral.

General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, and former army chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, also attended.

“General Pervez Musharraf always put the interests of Pakistan first, and he even put his life at risk by waging a war against militancy,” Moinuddin Haider, a retired army general, told reporters.

Several politicians and government officials also paid glowing tributes to Mr Musharraf.

During his tenure as president, Mr Musharraf made Pakistan a key ally of Washington in the war on terror after the September 11 2001 attacks in the United States.

That angered Pakistani and foreign militants who at least twice tried to assassinate him in the city of Rawalpindi in 2003, but he escaped unhurt.

Mr Musharraf lost his grip on power in 2008 when the party of the former president, Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistan People’s Party, defeated his long-time political allies in parliamentary elections.

Mr Zardari later forced him to resign. The new government instigated a treason case against Mr Musharraf — but allowed him to leave the country on bail to travel to Dubai in the UAE in 2016 for medical treatment while the proceedings were underway.

Mr Musharraf remained in Dubai after being sentenced to death for treason at home in 2019, although the death penalty was later overturned by another court.

However, prime pinister Sharif’s government last year said Mr Musharraf would not be arrested if his family wanted to bring him back home.

But Mr Musharraf’s doctors and his family said adequate medical treatment for him was unavailable in Pakistan.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 13, 2023 at 9:13pm

Celebrated theater, film and television performer died today. He was handpicked by President Pervez Musharraf to establish and run government-funded National Academy of Performing Arts in Karachi in 2005.


Zia Mohyeddin, legendary Pakistani artist and orator, dies at 91
The celebrated performer died in a hospital in Karachi where he was on life support.

Popular Pakistani actor Fawad Khan, a NAPA graduate who was associated with Mohyeddin for more than a decade, told Al Jazeera the thespian’s death felt like he has lost his own father.

“I don’t have enough words to express my word and sorrow at his passing. He helped me at every stage. His life was all about theatre, the all-encompassing passion he had for it. It kept him alive,” Khan said.

The actor said Mohyeddin was famous for his wit and one-liners, yet the seriousness he brought while working at NAPA will be his lasting legacy.


Former president Pervez Musharraf and his wife Sehba Musharraf were also resent at the dinner. It may be recalled that it was the former president who had taken the initiative to found NAPA and to provide funds for its sustenance during the initial years.Pervez Musharraf congratulated all those who had made NAPA a success and emphasised the immense need to eliminate the cultural vacuum that existed in society.
He related how, in order to further his concept of 'enlightened moderation,' he had thought of founding a national institution for the promotion of art and culture and had persuaded the thespian Zia Mohyeddin to head the Academy. He was happy that he had extended his patronage to NAPA, because in just a decade, it had come to ably fulfil the civil society's long-standing demand for a proper centre dedicated to the promotion of art and culture in Karachi. He was pleased that NAPA had managed to add great richness to the city's cultural activities.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 14, 2023 at 7:05am

President Musharraf has encouraged artists to promote a “peaceful and tolerant” image of their country through their work

When Pakistan’s president General Pervez Musharraf opened the new National Art Gallery in Islamabad at the end of August, he asked the country’s artists to help “project a soft, peaceful and tolerant image of Pakistan, to counter the negative propaganda”. Accordingly, much of the work in the gallery’s opening exhibition “Moving Ahead” takes a strong, anti-­military stance.

With over 600 works by some 126 Pakistani artists, the show is a comprehensive survey of the country’s contemporary art scene. Though many of the artists have had their work displayed in smaller exhibitions abroad, such as “Beyond the Page”, which opened at Asia House in London in 2005 and is currently touring the UK, Durriya Kazi, an artist from Karachi, says that “this is the first time we have seen the range of art being produced in Pakistan in our country”.

Most of the work on display is highly critical of contemporary politics. Kazi’s project Witness was made in response to the growing number of casualties in Iraq. The installation consists of a pair of photographs depicting clay figures that have been placed in public spaces in Islamabad and slowly allowed to deteriorate over time. The artist says these are “generic”, representing soldiers, women and children killed during the war (above).

Jamil Bloch’s World Plane is a massive reproduction of the tail end of a fighter plane, half-buried in the gallery floor. And a video Left Right by Hamra Abbas, who is also showing at the current Istanbul Biennial (p47), has a string of cookie-cutter soldiers with AK-47 rifles marching across a background of land, sea and air.

The National Art Gallery has taken more than 25 years to complete, because of Pakistan’s political upheavals, including the military coup that brought General Musharraf to power. There has only been sporadic political will to support the new gallery and provide funding for it after it was first proposed in 1981 by then president General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. Despite his plea to artists at the opening, President Musharraf, whose backing finally brought the gallery to completion and who has been named its “patron-in-chief”, has not placed any restrictions on the art that can be shown there; the Ministry of Culture has promised it will not censor any work.

In 2005, the government provided 456m rupees ($7.5m) to finish construction of the museum. The entire project has cost around 542m rupees ($9m).

Designed by the Pakistan-born architect Naeem Pasha, the four-storey, brick building fuses elements of Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic and British colonial architecture. It houses 14 galleries, as well as a 400-seat auditorium, theatre and library, among other public facilities.

Most of the works on view are owned by the Pakistan National Council of the Arts, with some loans from private collectors.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 14, 2023 at 7:06am

Pakistan Monument - Guide To Pakistan

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf suggested building a national monument in Islamabad in 2002. President Musharraf tasked the Ministry of Culture with collaborating with the Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners to organize a design competition for the landmark after the foundation stone was laid in 2004.

The theme and concept represented Pakistan’s resilience, unity, and commitment. Twenty-one different architects from all over Pakistan submitted plans, and the council selected three to be considered. Finally, Mr. Arif Masoud was entrusted with the task of creating the Pakistan Monument.

The magnificent Pakistan Monument was completed in 2006 under the supervision of Engineer Syed Mahmud Khalid. The inauguration ceremony took place on March 23, 2007, and the Pakistan Monument was opened to the public.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 14, 2023 at 7:17am

Islamabad, Pakistan, 11 March 2002 - President Pervez Musharraf today inaugurated The First MicroFinanceBank Ltd. in the presence of His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam of the Ismaili Muslims and Chairman of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development.

The Bank, the country’s first private financial institution dedicated to addressing the problems of endemic poverty, starts out with a capital of Rs.500 million contributed by the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme and the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development

“Poverty is a problem whose import is ignored at great peril,” warned the Aga Khan. “Perhaps, the greatest lesson of the tragedy of conflict that has recently engulfed this region is the need to attack its true roots. These lie not in religion or in corruption, but rather in deprivation, poverty, exclusion and lack of opportunity – and therefore hope.” “The First MicroFinanceBank will be one amongst several efforts the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development will make to address those root causes. “We are also actively reviewing the possibilities of initiating microfinance programmes in Afghanistan where we have begun discussions with international development agencies for potential partnerships.” Explaining the rationale underlying the creation of the Bank, the Aga Khan said “we firmly believe that the disadvantaged amongst us must be able to build a sound and secure future with dignity and pride – and not merely to survive.”

President Musharraf, in his remarks, situated “poverty alleviation” as one of the four strategic concerns that his government had outlined at its inception, the other three being economic revival, good governance and political restructuring. He went on to summarise the impact of the government’s efforts to date enumerating a series of initiatives in this regard, including the Khushali Bank and the Microfinance Social Development Fund. Expressing his appreciation for the establishment of The First MicroFinanceBank, President Musharraf pledged all his support and that of the government “for the common cause of building efficient microfinance intermediaries to retail affordable financial services to the poorest of the poor.”

The First MicroFinance Bank Ltd. will build upon two vast sources of experience. The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme’s highly successful microcredit and savings initiative has been serving some of the country’s poorest populations since 1982. Insitutions of the Aga Khan Development Network have provided financial services for more than sixty years through a range of entities from small savings and microcredit organisations to major commercial banks and insurance companies listed on national stock exchanges in Asia and Africa.

According to the Aga Khan, the Bank“seeks to marry entrepreneurship with capital formation. Whilst it will give people scope to expand their economic base, and over time, enable diversification beyond traditional small enterprises, through the discipline that it will seek to impose, the Bank will also endeavour to introduce good practices, ethical precepts and the highest standards of rectitude in the conduct of business.” “ Extending the experience of AKRSP,” he said, “we are hoping to create of this Bank, an institution that is ever respectful of the needs of the least fortunate.”

Commending the Pakistan Government for its recent efforts in turning around the economy, for its own microcredit initiatives and the commitment to addressing poverty evidenced by the Pakistan Poverty Reduction Strategy, the Aga Khan pointed to the need for a national commitment to creating sustainable livelihoods through sound fiscal policies that lead to the creation of jobs and assets, and the provision of a social safety nets.” “Also needed,” he said, “will be investments in health, education – especially techno-vocational training – and infrastructure development.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 5, 2023 at 1:31pm

Pakistan-India pact missed bus, but draft is ready

An India-Pakistan peace pact was ready to be signed by past leaders before they lost power, but it remains alive after the Modi government vetted it, according to a book quoted in a review by Karan Thapar on Saturday.

“By the end of the second term of the UPA government and of Dr Manmohan Singh’s ten-year term, the draft agreement had been approved and was ready for signature,” former ambassador to Pakistan Satinder Lambah says in his book Pursuit of Peace, quoted in The Hindustan Times. It has been published posthumously as the diplomat died in June last year.

“There were 36 meetings of the backchannel from May 2003 to March 2014,” a period spanning two leaders from each side. Gen Pervez Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif supported the backchannel from Pakistan, while Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh pressed on with it for India. Most of the agreement was concluded during Gen Musharraf’s time, the book says. Nothing much happened after he lost power, but then prime minister Nawaz Sharif “injected new momentum and urgency into the process”. Unfortunately, by then, “attention in India turned to the 2014 general elections”.

Mr Thapar, a journalist, senses that there were two moments when a deal could have happened. First, in 2007, but it didn’t because of Gen Musharraf’s “internal problems”. The second with Nawaz Sharif before India’s elections diverted attention.

But hopes did not end with Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking charge in May 2014.

“There appeared to be an intent to continue the backchannel process,” the book claims. “The file on the subject had been reviewed. I was even once told that no major change was required. A distinguished diplomat was being considered to be appointed as special envoy by Prime Minister Modi. I was asked to meet him.”

But that envoy was never appointed.

The Modi government tried again in April 2017. “A senior official of the PMO came to see me at my house. He said the prime minister wanted me to go to Pakistan to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.”

Sadly, an incident, described by Mr Thapar as “a very Indian development” nipped this in the bud. While Mr Lambah was awaiting “details of the points to be discussed and was asked to give (his) travel documents to enable (him) to travel to Pakistan”, the strangest thing happened. “I saw a news item that a leading In­­dian businessman, who was an emissary, had gone to meet PM Nawaz Sharif, in his personal plane … under the circumstances, it would not be proper for two people to represent the prime minister for the same purpose”.

According to the journalist’s quotes, former Pakistani high commissioner Abdul Basit had suggested the businessman was probably Sajjan Jindal.

“This was,” Mr Lambah writes, “the last conversation I had on this subject.”

The details in the book corroborate the view that the deal was tantalisingly close to fruition under Manmohan Singh. “My diary recalls I had 68 meetings with the prime minister”.

Those were days when foreign policy was discussed with as wide a range of people as were one way or another involved. “Pranab Mukherjee was kept fully informed of all developments”.

In November 2006, Sonia Gandhi was briefed. Earlier, in 2005, the army chief was involved. What’s more, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L.K. Advani, former national security adviser Brajesh Mishra, Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Karan Singh and Ghulam Nabi Azad were also kept informed.

Efforts were made to ensure the outcome was in keeping with the Indian constitution, parliamentary resolutions and the constitution of India-held Jammu and Kashmir.

Mr Lambah had six meetings between March 2006 and March 2007 with Chief Justice Adarsh Sein Anand. He also met the distinguished lawyer Fali Nariman.

The agreement was based on Gen Musharraf’s four-point formula as well as the three ideas proposed by Manmohan Singh in his Amritsar speech.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 18, 2023 at 7:43am

#Pakistan Loses Over $7 billion in #exports, #remittances in FY2023. Exports dropped by $3.491bn, or 12%, to $25.4 billion in July-May of FY23. Remittances fell by 12.8% to $24.8 billion during first 11 months of FY23. #PMLN #PPP #PDM #economy #IMF

KARACHI: As the PDM government keeps struggling to secure $1.1 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the country lost $7.15bn on account of shrinking exports and remittances during the first 11 months of FY23.

Despite missing out on targets for the outgoing fiscal year, the government has fixed higher exports and remittances projections for FY24.

Exports plunged by $3.491bn, or 12 per cent, to $25.380bn during July-May of FY23 compared to $28.871bn in the same period of the last year, official data showed.

Similarly, remittances fell by 12.8pc to $24.831bn during the first 11 months of the current fiscal year, posting a net loss of $3.658bn.

The combined loss from these two sectors is much higher than the country is willing to receive from the IMF and borrow from commercial banks and other multilateral lending agencies.

“Instead of spending time to boost exports and remittances, the government remained busy with all its efforts to borrow from the IMF and other sources,” said a senior banker.

The government struggled hard to get assurances of $3bn from Saudi Arabia and $2bn from the United Arab Emirates to get IMF’s $1.1bn.

Financial experts believe that the policymakers lack a clear strategy to control the situation, as most of the time was spent on borrowing strategy.

At the same time, the government included certain unrealistic expectations to bolster exports and remittances in the upcoming FY24 budget, without providing the rationale behind them. Analysts and experts said the new fiscal year would start under the stress of a current account deficit that has been projected at $6bn for FY23. The government has also allocated a budget of $6bn CAD, which analysts believe will likely increase due to the continuing decline in remittances.

“The government has also budgeted a $6bn CAD, which analysts believe will increase due to the continuing decline in remittances. But even taking the government figures, they imply a deficit of $300m to $700m every month,” said Faisal Mamsa, CEO of Tresmark, the company that tracks currency trends worldwide.

If the June 30 deadline for the IMF loan agreement (total worth $7bn) expires, the situation will become even more challenging for the new fiscal year.

Under the new FY24 budget, the government has projected a 7.2pc growth in exports. However, this projection is far from reality, as there is no improvement in Pakistan’s exports and the slowdown in world trade is not expected to improve in the next 12 months.

Remittances, which have been declining by an average of $332m per month, have been projected to grow by 8.5pc. However, remittances are declining due to a government policy that permits importers to purchase dollars from the illegal grey market for imports.

The grey market offers a rate of Rs20 to Rs25 per dollar higher than the official banking rate. Remitters are benefitting from these grey market transactions and this situation is expected to persist into the next fiscal year, resulting in a decline in remittances instead of the projected 8.5pc growth.

During the first 10 months of FY23, Pakistan received only $1.1bn as Foreign Direct Investment. However, the government anticipates receiving $2.8bn in FY24 without providing any justification for this projected growth.


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