Military Dictatorship May Be Necessary to Save Pakistan from Islamic Fundamentalism

Essay by MehmoodUniversity, Master'sA+, July 2005

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In 1999, General Pervez Musharraf overthrew Pakistan's civilian government in a coup. While he has been criticized by some both within and outside of Pakistan for failing to restore democracy in that country, David Tahir Mehmood argues in the following viewpoint that Musharraf should instead be praised for taking actions against Islamic militants in Pakistan. He compares Musharraf to Mustapha Kemal (Ataturk), who as military dictator of Turkey following World War I successfully established the foundations for a secular society and democratic government in that country. Tahir Mehmood contends that a similar period of military rule may be necessary in Pakistan to prevent the country from succumbing to Islamic extremism or descending into anarchy. What does Tahir Mehmood argue about the creation of Pakistan in 1947?

General Pervez Musharraf is every inch a professional soldier. On October 12, 1999, he was army chief of staff in Pakistan and flying home from a visit to Sri Lanka.

He had recently fired a senior officer for meeting the Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif without permission. Musharraf was pleased with himself; but Sharif felt insulted. A power struggle was underway.

Landing at Karachi airport, Musharraf arranged a coup, put Sharif on trial, and sent him into exile in Saudi Arabia. Musharraf installed himself in Sharif's place. That's the way politics are conducted pretty much throughout the Muslim world. Military coups occur at regular intervals, and the country has had long spells under martial law--without which it would have disintegrated into anarchy. An assortment of different peoples and languages are engaged in permanent jostling, without benefit of democracy or the rule of law. In major cities like Lahore and Karachi, people die regularly in obscure shootings, whether committed by political extremists or criminals. Civil society does not exist. A British Blunder

Governing the Indian...