Military rule has always brought the country back on track whereas civilian governments have always derailed it, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has said. In an interview with BBC Urdu on Wednesday, Musharraf lauded Pakistan’s former military dictators Field Marshal Ayub Khan and General Zia-ul-Haq. “Dictators set the country right, whereas civilian governments brought it to ruins,” he said, adding, “military rule always brought progress to Pakistan”. The former President added that whenever martial law was declared in Pakistan, “it was the need of the hour”.
“All Asian countries have seen progress because of dictators,” he said, adding that it makes no difference to the population of Pakistan whether the country is being governed by an elected government or by an autocrat, as long as there is progress and prosperity. Musharraf also criticised former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s India policy, saying it was a “total sell-out policy”. “India is involved in Balochistan. Whoever works actively against the welfare of Pakistan is against the country and should be killed,” Musharraf was quoted by the Dawn newspaper as telling BBC. The former President held the Bhutto era responsible for “breaking the country”, and praised Ayub Khan for “setting a record of progress”.
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Commenting on the rule of Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, Musharraf — while saying that it was “controversial” — he maintained that the former dictator’s decision to help America and the Mujahideen against the Soviet Union at the time of the Afghanistan invasion was a correct move. Musharraf also spoke about his 1999 coup d’état in which he seized power from the democratically-elected government of then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. “The coup was staged because it was the demand of the country’s people,” Musharraf said, adding that Pakistan’s citizens should have the option of to remove a civilian government and there should be “checks and balances in the Constitution” to this effect.
“The people come running to the Army to be saved. People come to me asking to be saved… We cannot ruin the country in order to save the Constitution. We can disregard the Constitution to save the people,” Musharraf said. “I have served as the head of the Army and the Army will always protect my welfare,” he said in response to a question about his self-imposed exile. Musharraf came to head the Pakistan Army in 1998. He staged a coup in October 1999, ousting Sharif, and was President from 2001 to 2008. Musharraf now lives in Dubai.