Letter to the Editor

Dear Sir / Madam,

I read with great interest your lead article in the Harbus edition of Monday, September 16, 2002 entitled “Musharraf@Harvard: His Vision for Pakistan”.

As someone who attended the lecture at the Kennedy School, I was struck by how much my perception of the events varied with those supplied by your contributing writers, Ms. Faheen Allibhoy and Ms. Shaan Kandawalla. I guess at some point beauty truly is in the eyes of the beholder, but this was one truly ugly duckling.

Having lived in Pakistan for four years during the reign of the last dictator of Pakistan, General Zia-ul-Haq (he of Z. A. Bhutto-execution fame), it struck me at how similar the excuses proferred by dictators of Pakistan are about the lack of democracy in that country. The current dictator, General Pervez Musharraf, professed himself, without batting an eyelid, as being the most democratic ruler Pakistan had seen. In the same breath, he went on to apologize that some of his supporters were overcome with enthusiasm, and so had rigged the recent referendum to the extent that Musharraf ‘won’ 99% of the popular vote. And during his speech, Musharraf showed absolutely no intention of stepping down or relinquishing his hold on power. I feel a great sorrow for the people of Pakistan, with whom I have a great deal of sympathy, that a speech that was supposed to showcase a better future for Pakistan was reduced to a whitewash of Musharraf’s regime.

And yet how did Harbus critically assess this delicate situation? It published an article by two authors who were perhaps swayed by some other considerations – at least one author used to work for the dictator. As a result, the learned readership of Harbus is supposed to be believe that “…many (listeners) felt an imbued optimism and hope surrounding Pakistan’s role in the 21st century.”

Only at HBS…

Yours faithfully,
Shashank Singh