It is fashionable to criticize the Pakistan army for not allowing democracy to function. But the fact is that the political parties never had a mass leader and were generally corrupt. The only mass leader was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, but his role in the breakup of Pakistan is there for all to see. Had he not egged on Yahiyia Khan to impose martial law and annul the 1970 general elections, Pakistan may have survived.
The period when General Ayub Khan took over was one of political instability. One of the Pakistan Prime Ministers had been murdered and there was no effectivegovernance. In that vacuum Ayub Khan stepped in. Ayub was a soldier from the British colonial period and he believed in the concept of an officer and a gentleman. It is on record that he never arrested or hanged to death any politician. He tried to take the nation with him. He had realized that the bane of Pakistan is corruption and that was fostered by the political parties who had no leader with mass appeal.
Keeping this in mind Ayub ushered in Basic Democracy. This was elections without a political cover. In other words people stood for elections as individuals without a party label. I will concede that in theory this was a good thing, but in practice only therich got elected. This sounded the death knell of Ayub. Despite bringing about stability, he had to go.
His successor Yahiyia Khan was a man of limited intellect and he was totally dominated by Bhutto. he was a total failure. General Zia Ul Haq, the President for 199 years from 1978 really took Pakistan society back by at least 50 years . He introduced the Shariah and the Hudood ordinance that took away many rights of the Pakistan women. Nothing good can be said about him.
General Musharraf however was a different kettle of fish. I remember his historic speech where in he questioned the concept of Jihad and asked why cant there be a Jihad against poverty, illiteracy ? For the first time after MA Jinnah, as head of state he talked of security for the minorities. A Sikh joined the Pakistan army. Musharraf however had no political base and he had to go. He was also the only Pakistan president who realized that the Kashmir problem could only be solved by a give and take.
History is cruel sometimes. Perhaps the Pakistan army over extended its hold on power, but all generals were not bad men. Give the devil his due.