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Military government support of science in Pakistan is illusory

Sir

Your Editorial 'After Musharraf' (Nature 454, 1030; 2008) seems biased in its comments on the role of elected governments in Pakistan. You note that the military has ruled the country for longer than civilians have, yet you blame civilian governments for the lack of development of science.

The military governments enjoyed unaccountable and unchallenged power. For example, they were not required to reveal details of their defence budgets, and military pensions were passed over to the civilian budget when international agencies applied pressure for the military budget to be cut down (using the argument that retired military personnel are civilians).

Under General Pervez Musharraf's rule, generals were appointed as vice-chancellors of many of Pakistan's universities, with adverse effects on the morale of academicians and researchers. None of the military governments made a serious effort to promote science. Against this background, it is surprising to read: “Worryingly, Pakistan's governance of its science seems all set to revert to the situation that prevailed under previous elected governments.”

It would be interesting to compare the rise in the military budgets under military and elected governments with the budgets for education and health. Neither military nor elected governments have ever dared to reduce the military budget in real terms.

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Siddiqi, M., Yusufzai, A. Military government support of science in Pakistan is illusory. Nature 455, 1175–1176 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1038/4551175c

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