Musharraf’s politics: A Pakistani love affair

Published: January 11, 2012

The infamous NRO proves to be a stain on his uniform (read designer sherwani) that cannot be washed by neither Ariel nor Surf Excel! PHOTO: TMN

Enough has been written on APML’s Karachi jalsa on January 8. Much has been said about the not-so-intelligent choice of venue, drawing immediate comparisons to the mammoth PTI crowd just two weeks earlier. Perhaps its time to dwell on why there were less supporters (read 8,000 – 10,000) in the ground.

General (retd) Pervez Musharraf is undoubtedly among the few love affairs of the Pakistani public. At a certain time in recent history, millions of us worshipped him, liked and loved him, defended his actions and chanted his slogan ‘Sab se Pehle Pakistan’. We were proud that we were led by someone who presents our stance courageously in front of the whole world.

But then, one by one, his actions told us that the power got to him. Severe public criticism and outrage did not talk any sense into him. He preferred obedience over love from his people. There was a time when people thanked him for his decision to take over the affairs of the country. Then came a time when people thanked God that Musharraf finally left power.

There is simply no point being cynical about his tenure and bashing him baselessly. The former general did make some economic scoring during his time. Education had the government’s full attention and scores of universities and colleges were opened and chartered. The media revolution (read channels and talk shows) happened in Pakistan during his time.

But when you are at the helm of affairs, then your mistakes haunt you eternally, don’t they? Especially when they have impacted millions of people around you.

While there are some differing views and somewhat supportive evidence in favour of becoming a part of the War on Terror, the Lal Masjid action (read massacre), Bugti’s killing (read extra-judicial) and his love for the uniform, he has expressed three different views on the sacking of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.  In several interviews, he has called it a just decision at that particular point of time and defended it. Many other times, he said he doesn’t want to comment on it. In the third stance, he has expressed regret over his decision and the country-wide crisis it caused. Musharraf’s critics asked him to make up his mind.

Then came the lawyers’ movement. The only solution he could come up with was baton charging them repeatedly. When the TV channels went berserk, they were shut down and ransacked in the name of an emergency. When newspapers started giving the Balochistan crisis cover page attention, government ads were pulled back and pending payments were held.

May 12 went unnoticed. Dr Aafia Siddiqui and many others disappeared from Pakistan and reappeared in the US, at the US Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. There was no just explanation. According to the first edition of his book ‘In the Line of Fire’, they were sold against $300 something. The information was deleted in later editions, explanations and apologies were offered. It was called an editing error.

But the bomb shell came when a miracle was needed. When he was expected to save the country, he tried to save his powers and position, but in vain. The infamous NRO proves to be a stain on his uniform (read designer sherwani) that cannot be washed by neither Ariel nor Surf Excel! Mush has realised very well that a large chunk of his supporters bade him farewell for good when his NRO signing brought all the perpetrators, looters and corrupt politicians back to the election scene, allowing them to contest again and loot more.

The general’s actions have proven to be irreversible and detrimental to the already collapsing system in our country. You stabilised the system to a great extent, sir, but than officially handed it over to Zardari. Why?

For the NRO specifically, he has blamed his advisors (read Tariq Aziz) for misleading him. Now one wonders, that after the ‘I will not allow corrupt leaders to come back to the country and do more damage’ rhetoric for nine straight years, just one advisor and one piece of advice can convince him enough to overdo everything he did in the name of country-love! Sir, after being the chief executive of the country for such a long time, if you were not able to judge advice that your signature on one wrong document can cause such collateral damage to your country, do you think you deserve a second chance?

I must say that Musharraf lost my vote the day he sent an election invitation (read NRO) to the entire corrupt brigade.

At a time when he has announced his return to Pakistan, the most important truth is apparently not his election campaign or impending alliances. It is his survival that seems shaky due to the ghosts from his past. Out of all the political leadership in Pakistan, Musharraf has the maximum number of enemies – the Taliban, the Pakistan Muslim League – N (read the Sharif family), the Lal Masjid survivors and supporters, the lawyers, the judges (read CJ Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry) and the Baloch (read the Bugtis) who don’t forget or forgive, but just wait their turn.

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Arif Ahmed

Arif Ahmed

A corporate communications professional and co-founder of a Karachi based NGO.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • POOREST GUY

    he is not coming rather being sent by invisible power (every body knows who?)Recommend

  • Mannan

    Dictator !!Recommend

  • Moinullah Baig

    Musharaf please do come back soon, you are the only redeemer of Pakistan.Recommend

  • pervez khan

    musharraf was a courageous man.he was the only one who had the courage to stand upto the religious terrorists taking over our society.he used force when it was badly needed to clear out the lal masjid of the religious militants inside.all this govt. has done is to surrender before the forces of religious tyranny.they’ve given out land to the jamia hafsa to start their brainwashing sessions once again.they sidelined and abandoned their brave governor taseer and don’t even mention his name on his death anniversary.we need a brave leader like musharraf who’s not scared of taking on the religious fascists detroying our society.Recommend

  • Farz

    I may disagree with most of your points against Musharraf. However, I must commend your balanced approach.

    Musharraf is human. He said many times NRO was his mistake but you failed to mention that NRO was NOT the reason PPP and PML-N came into power. NRO did NOT make Zardari President, he became President by default without any opposition in parliament.

    You want to blame Musharraf for all the post-election ills. Why don’t you look at PTI or others? they boycotted and gave PPP and PML-N to get elected. They are equally contributed to this ill.

    With regards to Judiciary, we all know now that the person in question (you know who I’m talking about) wanted to save his kursi.

    I do not agree with your take on Aafia case.

    For Musharraf, Pakistan is and always will be first. Recommend

  • http://www.tanzeel.wordpress.com Tanzeel

    Your article proves that Musharraf never had your vote. In this piece you tried your level best to find ways to malign him and this uttered nonsensical rhetoric. Let alone few the war on terror decision that you condemned was taken in year 2001 which means you never supported any of his decision in year 2001 and onwards but backed only one action i.e Military coup which itself is the biggest sin he has ever made, wonder why you supported coup d’état . Your long PML (N)ish charge sheet will only work if Supreme Court pleads him guilty. Recommend

  • zafar

    This post seems to be more in favor of Musharraf. I can sense Musharraf has not lost your vote. But the issue is his mistakes have been highlighted throughout the last 4 years but not his achievements that are many. That’s true that he did not want to go because he knew what gonna happen to this country, you can call it love for power but it is patriotism for many. With all the threats that you mention he still coming back, he is brave and willing to do something with all his experience. Lets welcome him back, we have seen last four years no one seems to be with clear vision and honesty to run this country. Recommend

  • Parvez

    The title does not reflect the contents of the write up.
    One important point you missed out was, here is a man incapable of learning from mistakes and he and his lot made many during their 8-10 years.Recommend

  • Wahab

    Great read… My vote was for Mush few years ago, now its safely placed with PTI :)Recommend

  • Mohammed Arif

    I think before election a powerful commission should work out to show the right things to the people to take the right decision before they go for vote. The commission should take only first four years of his regime to compare with the 2 Benazir and 2 Nawaz Shareef tenures. The findings would be distributed to the public and also to be discussed on electric media. This commission should inform the public what development, import export, revenue collection, law in order matters, democratic and non democratic steps, road and bridge constructions, Universities and colleges completed and under construction, measures to bring the powers to grass root levels thru local governments. Electricity and petroleum problems. All this comparison will reveal who should govern the Pakistan regardless he come from where; because the people of Pakistan want easy life with electric, water, gas. petrol, CNG, education and medicines to their children, jobs. Because amendments and awards or so called democracy cannot take a place what a poor and middle class person needs. It is required as the Media failed to educate and inform the public right things.Recommend

  • Danish

    In any civilized country, What happened in Lal Masjid there would have been a crackdown against such extremist elements. They were given ample opportunity to vacate and give up arms but yet they wanted to fight. Lal Masjid happened in a capital of a country, chinese were taken hostages and stick holding women marched over Islamabad. Is that what you want for the future of your country? than GOD help us!

    Bugti was no angel, he killed many and destroyed the infrastructure of our country. His sons and grand sons are openly involved with the RAW to bring trouble in Balochistan. Train tracks were blown up every day, Gas pipelines were blown up almost every day in winters and than Sui was attacked every day with rockets. If such people are asked to continue doing it than GOD help us!

    We all know NRO was made on whose insistence and Benazir was brought back through back channel agreements with Condolezza Rice. Benazir or Nawaz Sharif came to power many times, they have not provided reliefe, they never came up with new economic ventures. They only brought misery even today after 4 years they say all our troubles belong to Musharraf. It seems they are in love with Musharraf more than anybody else. They had ample opportunity to do better than Musharraf, but instead we have record inflations, record unemployment and record corruption. People graduate and cannot find jobs, they are willing to do manual labour in Middle Eastern countries for throw away salaries. Our political democrats (they are dictators of there own political parties) have brought more misery on the people who elected them than a dictator.

    If Musharraf handed Aafia Siddiqui to US, than our political leaders handed over Raymond Davis also. Iftikhar Chaudhry has a fake domicile, i personally know scores of people who are knocking on supreme court every day for justice but how many are getting justice. If your name is Nawaz Sharif you might be able to get your case heard in a day otherwise you can wait centuries for justice.

    We need to grow up, elect those who can do better for us and our economy. It can be Musharraf, Imran Khan or even Nawaz Sharif but unless we vote for the right people who are actually there to serve us we will stay in this quagmire forever. Recommend

  • Akbar

    Completely disagree with the writer. I can give you 100 reasons why we will vote for him. The starting line that the Jalsa had 8k to 10k people says it all that you had no clue how many came the rest flows from the top. Even God couldnt do anything with the non believers but to threaten them with Hell. All i can say is for Musharraf non believers, you deserve the current lot and at best Imran Khan and dont curse us later. Its your call not ours.Recommend

  • http://- Abid P. Khan

    @Farz:
    You dare to have such opinion? Really astounding.Recommend

  • Ali

    What a waste of time reading it!! Recommend

  • Yousaf

    I am writing this after reading the first paragraph:

    BBCURDU has quoted that there were approximately 20,000 people… so who is lying?

    here is the link:

    BBCURDU

    جلسہ پاکستان کے معیاری وقت کے مطابق چھ بجے کے قریب شروع ہوا تھا اور اس وقت جلسہ گاہ میں بیس ہزار کے قریب لوگ موجود تھے تاہم غروب آفتاب کے بعد شہر میں سردی میں اضافے کے ساتھ ہی لوگوں نے جلسہ گاہ سے واپس جانا شروع کر دیا تھا۔Recommend

  • Yousaf

    This all repeated by many bloggers etc. … but we are not convinced…you are simply misleading.

    He did his best or at least there was no bad intention behind the decision he made for Pakistan. My vote is always for Musharraf. We can forget all his mistakes because he has given a boom to Pakistan which is, unfortunately destroyed by the democratic government.

    I want him to come back, and pray for his long life. If God forbid something happened to him, we will assume an SSG commando is martyred by the people of Pakistan.

    Musharraf was a superman.. still is and will remain a superman.Recommend

  • Ahmad

    He’s the guy who admitted live on TV to breaking the constitution. That’s enough to hang him under article 6. His only defense is doctrine of necessity which the SC threw out when it invalidated the NRO. He has no defense. Legally speaking, a hangman’s noose awaits him. Recommend

  • sajad

    My dear pakistani brothers and sisters ,what I can say that ,there is no option except musharf who can save the pakistan,musharaf is the real man ,he is a brave man and real country lover ,his bold speaches before the power ,in the power after the power ,I salute him ,every pakistani should support him ,and pray for his success ,main us maa ko salam karta hun jiss ki koke se musharaf jaise bahadur admi ne janam liyaya hain.puri dunya pakistan ke pechay lagi hui hain ,musharaf is the man who can save his country at this tough times , jis country ka president mr.10 percent ho us country ka kya hoga educated ,young generation should think and vote for musharaf ,I am not from pakistan but I am a big fan of musharaf ,main to allah se dua karta hun ,har country main musharaf jaisa general ho.musharaf jaisa president ho,primeminister ho. Best of luck musharaf sahabRecommend

  • hamza khan

    @Akbar:

    ouch!! slaam dunk. well said brother. Recommend

  • hamza khan

    FYI: the IB, pakistans lone civilian intel agency that reports to the government, estimated approx 20k attendees. you would presume they had a motive to underestimate. the APML estimated that at the peak of the rally, for which no pictures exist curiously, there were approx 40k attendees. that might be slightly exagerrated no doubt. the reality is somewhere in between what the IB is saying and what APML is stating. however, people should not be so quick to dismiss this. there were several factors contributing to a seemingly low turnout. the APML is confident that once president musharraf returns inshallah, people doubting him are in for a rude shock. stay tuned. Recommend

  • Boloch

    It was a really good try to put the article but fact remains the same. Musharraf is the only hope which is for sure can take Pakistan out of mess. Please let’s not distort history. Watch jan 11 2012 front line with kamran where sheikh Rasheed admitted that Musharraf tried so much to convict zardari but CJ Iftikhar chaudry was in a way. Now reality is that charter of democracy signed by BB and Nawaz clearly said that all the cases which were made during their time were political cases against each others so basically cases became irrelevant because the initiator of cases pulled back from their stance now what was NRO. It was that BB will be allowed political activity but will not be able to take part in election as prime ministership which mean she can lead her party but can’t become prime minister but my question is who gave them vote? It is public of Pakistan which did. So now please don’t try to blame one guy for the wrong doing of public because that is the easiest way out thanks Recommend

  • Amjad

    Musharraf is yesterday’s man who is disliked by the majority of Pakistanis. 9 years of his dictatorship was enough.Recommend

  • asdfasl

    Immediately join the jihad brothers and sisters, if you haven’t already. Join the ranks of al-qeida and the taliban, and kill those prime ministers and presidents, soldiers and politicians who have slaughtered little children with drones as they innocently play outside. Immediately dispatch a force of mujahideen to carswell, in fort worth, texas, to break out our sister, Aafia Siddiqui, kill raymond davis, immediately locate and rescue Aafia’s Son, Suleyman, and immediately provide food for the starving of somalia. Re-establish the caliphate now, rule by the shariah in it’s entirety, and spread justice the way injustice is spread. Do not hate the organizations which have shed their blood for you for the last ten years, and do not fear the name calling and accusations of those who spray our daughters with bullets from helicopter gunships. Do not become like those “muslims”, who, out of a sense of weakness and inferiority, pose themselves as intellectuals, but are nothing but apologists for the pharoahs of this world. There is none worthy of worship except Allah, the Creator, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah (upon whom be peace). Immediately provide aid and food for the still starving and in need people in pakistan who were affected by the floods. Recommend

  • Questioner

    @Farz:
    PTI boycotted against the dictator. PML and PPP chickened out and went into election. Stop misleading people please. Recommend

  • Aloof

    Warning: Mushy trolls coming! (they are more brainless than PTI trolls at times)Recommend

  • Malik Tabeer

    Musharraf was my leader and he will remain my leader
    only courageous leader and one who know how to talk and when to talkRecommend

  • Umar

    Well Balanced article. He did some good and some wrong. No different than others who got close to 9 years of rule like him. 2 terms or equivalant is enough to test someone. We have already tried PPP, PML and Kings Party.Recommend

  • saldkfja

    Immediately physically break our, with force, all our entrapped Muslim brothers and sisters across the globe, as well as the innocent non-Muslims. Recommend

  • http://peshawar dr Kamran Baluch

    Musharraf should make an alliance with IKRecommend

  • adi

    Mr. Einstein, even the sister of Afia siddiqui, said on capital talk that she was “kidnapped” from ghazni..and last i checked ghazni was still a part of afghanistan…check your facts first, dont glorify a terrorist who has brought shame to pakistanRecommend

  • A free soul

    Only a slave mentality can accept a dictator. Personally, I would take freedom over gas, electricity or whatever material aspects this world has to offer. Ask yourself if you prefer to live in an european jail with all the comfort (gas, electricity etc) or as a free man in Pakistan. Feel sorry for all supporters of this shallow man. thank god there are only few.

    Vote Imran, the guy has self respect and he is an achiever and has done more for the country then any of the remaining mental slaves. Have some self respect. Recommend

  • Salahuddin

    I don’t know about all you people, but I still like and love him :)Recommend

  • http://Gmail XOYA

    & what do you call Zardari’s Politics ???
    what is gillani’s politics called & what is Nawaz sharif’s Politics called ???
    hmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    Atleast Mr.Musharraf gave us Peaceful & good successful 8 years .
    What has Zardari ,nawaz & others given us ??? hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmRecommend

  • http://www.helppakistan.org Irfan A Rehman

    Excellent Article, Musharraf got the answer in the last rally, no more chances.Recommend

  • A free soul

    peaceful and successful 8 years? what are you on these days my friend. There were more blasts in his time then at any time in probably the history of the world and success we are enjoying in the form of energy shortages and what not. i can go on and on but i would be wasting my breath
    Have some self respect and Vote Imran. Recommend

  • Sincere

    I am not really surprised at the results of the poll but the thing is whoever does lot of good things in between lots of bad people he will always find him self with having lots of enemies. The same is with Mushraff he has done a lot of good things in his era except two big mistakes one of the CJ and the other one was NRO. But no one looks in this manner that NRO was beneficial if Benazir would have been in the rule. NRO became a curse because of the assasination of Benazir Bhutto so there is no point in cursing Musharaff for that. Anf if we talk about Aafia Siddiqi most of the common people just know here name they even don’t know that what is the case just because they follow any other on the basis of that they are saying it’s because of Musharaff and all. Aafia’s family did a press conference they didn’t blamed Musharaff plus his husband didn’t do it as well and the main thing she is an American citizen how can we say anything in the matter of a citizen who is not even a Pakistani? I know that is bad what is happening there with Aafia but what so ever no one can do anything about Aafia not even Mushraff nor any other politician in Pakistan. For a common man like me i was happy with Musharaff’s era (economy, basic necessity items prices, jobs, more opportunities) and i’ll be happy if he comes back or even Imran Khan will be the next rules. I love both of them as i know both of them has love for the country and they will do good.Recommend

  • Sincere

    @A free soul: I don’t think so bro i am living in the same country as well power shortages at that time was not that frequent (3 hours out of 24 hours in a day). May be now a days you are having electricity for 24 hours that’s why you said that plus i don’t think so i can’t find any year rather than 2009 and 2010 when there was no counting of blasts. I can go on and on too bro but the thing is common people like me was having lots of jobs, opportunities, basic necessity items were affordable in his era but not now. I am supporting IK too but can’t lie as well that his era for me as a common man like me and my surroundings were not complaining.Recommend

  • sars

    @asdfasl:

    Hope to God this horrific senario was satire ,but it actually does resonate with a huge majority of our people………… Recommend

  • http://707monty.blogspot.com Aliya

    we dont need u dictator take a look at his era http://707monty.blogspot.comRecommend

  • http://furqanarshad.blogspot.com Furqan Arshad

    I recommend Mr. Musharaf to please stay away from Pakistan and its politics. There are already corruption at its peak. Recommend

  • stenson

    @Moinullah Baig: I think you forget that most of us blame Musharraf for all the current problems in Pakistan. The only reason we want him back is to put him in jail and to lock the key forever!Recommend

  • Moinullah Baig

    @Stenson You people can only blame .hahahYou are talking about jail come on dude :PRecommend