BY: Anis Ur Rehman
Despite the boycott of the 2013 general elections by the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML), the party managed to get two seats (one national and one provincial) from the constituency of Chitral under special permission to contest the elections from its party’s president, Pervez Musharraf.
This victory for the APML in Chitral proved yet another time that the common people never forget leaders who give prime importance to their demands and are keen to serve the people at all costs.
Chitral is a far-flung area in the north of Pakistan with scenic beauty and breath-taking picnic spots located all over the mountainous district. It is blessed with special tourist attractions like the Kalash valley, the Shandur polo festival, Qaqlasht festival, garam chashma (hot spring resorts), and the Baroghil festival. The people of this area are very hospitable and peaceful. Despite being very close to Afghanistan and Dir, not a single incident of terrorism has taken place here over the last 50 years. The literacy rate, too is very encouraging in Chitral; among females, it ranges above 60 per cent.
Yes, Chitral is bestowed with many natural gifts by the Almighty. However, it remains disconnected from the rest of the country for almost six months a year due to heavy snowfall on the Lowari Pass (the only road which connects Chitral to its adjacent district of Dir).
The winter time is difficult for the people of Chitral as the prices of daily commodities rise above the normal level and access to Peshawar becomes nearly impossible. People become stranded here and thousands of people have lost their lives while trying to get through the Lowari pass.
In these difficult times, general Musharraf proved to be a messiah for the people of Chitral as he took unprecedented interest in the construction of Lowari Tunnel project and kick started the work in 2005. Initially the cost of this project was estimated at Rs8 billion. The project was given to a South Korean construction company Sambu JV and finally the work was started in 2005. Within three years the work on a 8.2km tunnel was partially completed and it was a day of celebration in Chitral.
Pervez Musharraf emerged as hero in the eyes of the people because he was the only leader who understood our plight.
However, with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) coming in to power in 2008, delaying tactics were used by the government and the work on Lowari tunnel project was suddenly stopped. The main reason cited for this was the unavailability of required funds. During the five years of PPP government, all the heavy machinery was removed from the site and a long dispute ensued between the Sambu JV and the PPP government over non-payment of dues to the former. The people of Chitral were dismayed and a general sense of abandonment by the PPP government prevailed among the people of Chitral. They lovingly and longingly remembered their benefactor Pervez Musharraf.
They thought that had Mushharaf been in power, the Lowari tunnel project would have been completed well in time and the road could have been extended to Tajikistan providing a link between Pakistan and Central Asian countries, as envisaged by Musharraf. That’s why due to demand of Chitralis, Musharraf decided to contest elections from Chitral and returned to Pakistan, but a plethora of cases were reopened against him and he was imprisoned.
Even still, the people of Chitral still voted for his nominated candidates, showing that they were still loyal to Musharraf and loved him immensely.
With the indictment of Musharraf in various cases, a general consternation is found among the people of Chitral and they strongly believe that Musharraf will prove to be innocent and eventually all the cases against him would be dropped and he would be set free with honour as deserved by a true leader like him.
The common people of Pakistan are not concerned with these high profile cases and the developments which take place on higher planes. They only need a leader who tries to solve their basic problems of everyday life. History shows that during the rule of military in Pakistan (except one), this country has developed in all respects and socio-economic indicators have performed very well across the country.
What happens inside the corridors of power in Islamabad, or the tussle between various players of the game means nothing to the people. They only need an honest and true leader like Musharraf whose main aim and purpose was to see Pakistan as a developed and responsible country in the comity of nations.
Let’s hope that Pervez Musharraf is cleared of all false charges and returns to mainstream politics to serve the people of Pakistan with honesty and sincerity.
The blog has originally been posted on tribune.com, one of the leading news site of Pakistan and you can visit their page here www.tribune.com.pk