Go, Musharraf go… once more

Published: September 29, 2010

The former president will be like any other politician - striking deals and scratching backs

October 1 is set to be a momentous day when the erstwhile General Musharraf will return to the Pakistani political stage in a long-awaited and much speculated campaign. Musharraf’s entry into the political arena is exciting news for his new army.

This new army is neither armed nor khaaki clad; this army of ‘Musharrafites‘ or ‘Mushies’ for short, emanate from the educated middle and upper class who view him as a saviour from all the ills that plague us today. This new army, primarily Facebook based, is eager to welcome him back into the country citing his previous stint in office and our country’s quagmire of inaction, corruption and ineptitude.

As a former Musharraf supporter myself, I’ve heard all the arguments. He’s liberal. He’s good for the economy. He’s vital for friendship with the United States. He cares for our country. He’ll take us away from dynastic and personality-based politics and lead us to a new tomorrow.


Musharraf’s return will only set in motion a series of lamentable events that are best to be avoided. If anything, Musharaf’s return will be disastrous for the short term. It will wreak instability and havoc in a system that already has enough to cope with. It will galvanize the movement for so-called ‘democracy’ and usher in further acrimony and inaction. More importantly, it will set a precedent that Pakistan can do without – the rise of a retired military man entering parliament in civilian guise.

Musharaf’s venture into politics, I am sure, is comforting to some when the alternatives are considered. Even I would love it if Mushie, ‘my man’, ‘my bro’ from back in the day would return and sweep politics clean forever and ever. But then again, with the privilege of education and common sense, I know that will not happen.

What I’m afraid will happen is this: Musharraf will succumb to the filth that pervades our political system. He will promulgate yet another political party based on singular, myopic interests that carries no real political platform and revolves around his personality alone. He will condone or overlook the actions, statements and illegalities of his party members in exchange for political support. In short, Musharraf will be a Pakistani politician.

Worse still is the legacy he left behind. It was convenient that the present government could blame Musharraf for all of Pakistan’s woes post-2008 and the sad reality is, there is an element of truth in their arguments. Musharraf turned a blind eye to the Taliban after offering lip service to the Americans, and all of a sudden military operations in places like Buner and Swat were needed. The economic growth under his tenure (which ought to be attributed to Shaukat Aziz and not him) resulted in unparalleled levels of inflation. His behaviour with the Balochis, Akbar Bugti in particular, have not made him very popular in that province. His operations against the media or the judiciary certainly cannot buttress his feeble reputation for being a democrat.

Ah yes, perhaps you forgot, Musharraf is a democrat now. Will someone please tell me how can a man, who’s already violated the Constitution twice, be expected to respect or abide by it if elected into office? How can we forgive a man, whatever his intentions, to come back and serve a system he destroyed for almost a decade? And then of course, there is corruption. Let’s not forget that some of Musharraf’s former party members were culpable in high levels of corruption. With his coterie of sycophants eager to return to positions of privilege and power, Musharraf will be like any other ineffectual party leader succumbing to the vicissitudes of a tainted system.

Musharraf himself is an interesting character and one whom I respect immensely. He’s a tennis player and a dog lover. He can speak Turkish. When not planning coups, he can plan infiltrations into places like Kargil. As a soldier, he is brave and enterprising; as a citizen, patriotic and determined. He has the ability to speak well and at times appear charismatic. He is clearly dexterous at playing politics as his move from General to Chief Executive to President.

More importantly, Musharraf is the only politician in my lifetime for whom I rejoiced when he entered office and lamented when he exited. He gave my generation hope, and hope is a rare and precious gift. But now, Musharraf the General is no more. Gone are the days when this man would have the authority of his uniform and a firm grip on the country to get the job done. With no power base, Musharraf is not only a weak politician but a rather discredited one at that with enemies in all directions.

With Musharraf back, I have no doubt in my mind that our immature political system will deem him a scapegoat and try to hold him accountable for whatever real or imagined crimes he may have committed, thought, dreamt or believed. Forgive my pessimism but I do not have much faith in politicians and I vehemently believe his return will create another cycle of infighting, accusations and instability.

We already have enough of that.

For those who consider Musharraf the noble lion, I urge you to wake up and slap yourself across the head a few times so that you understand this:

Musharaf’s authority was only as important as his starched uniform. Even if he does become President or Prime Minister, he will not be the Musharraf we knew. There is only one man whom we can safely calls the shots in Pakistan, and that man is now the resident of Army House. Not Musharraf. Now he will have to be just like any other sniveling politician, playing a precarious balancing game, striking deals and scratching backs. Given his weak political base and his incipient political party, Musharraf will have to compromise if he wants to be taken seriously and make deals with the devil in order to gain any political clout.

We already have enough people like that around here.

The other alternative is that when he returns, he’ll be held accountable for his numerous crimes, subsequently turning the whole legal and political system upside down. Pakistan does not need this. Musharraf quoted the “doctrine of necessity” after his coup, stating what he did was inevitable and incumbent upon him. Today, I argue that same thesis against his return. Musharraf’s return will only bring instability. The country needs to focus on many things; we need to rebuild after the worst natural disaster to ever rampage our land. We need to combat terrorism, fix our economy, rid ourselves of our various social disadvantages and face the changing tides of the twenty-first century. We need peace, we need stability, we need order, we need action. We need good governance and leaders who are focused on the future. We may not have them now, but optimism is a virtue. What we do not need is more political wrangling and conflict. What we do not need, is Musharraf.

Even when Musharraf does return, I fear very much for him. Given the number of enemies he has, it would not be surprising if he is actually convicted, jailed, hanged or assassinated.

We’ve already had enough of that as well. We need heroes, not martyrs. Musharraf should not come back to Pakistan.


Hamza Usman

A writer with a Bachelor's in Political Science & History and a Master's in Global Communications. He tweets at @hamzausman.

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

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/1534/welcoming-home-mr-musharraf/ Syed Nadir El-Edroos

    Well all arguments aside, hes not returning to Pakistan on the1st of October, he is officially launching his party in London, and as is fashionable, he will probably set up shop in Dubai. After all, most decisions that effect our country are made in foreign capitals. Where our good ol Saudi and American negotiators can get the warring parties to hammer out something. Recommend

  • parvez

    Musharraf had eight years,eight full years and he squandered this opportunity.

    Musharraf has had his day. Today he is rich, fat and quite contented. He is now, as we say “Time pass kar raha hai “Recommend

  • http://www.mensapk.org Hasan Zuberi

    ” Musharaf’s authority was only as important as his starched uniform. Even if he does become President or Prime Minister, he will not be the Musharraf we knew. There is only one man whom we can safely calls the shots in Pakistan, and that man is now the resident of Army House.”

    Very well put …. something i also try to tell our Mushy-fans …. after loosing his second skin … he is as naked as any politician in this country.Recommend

  • http://www.adeelsarfaraz.com Adeel Sarfraz

    Musharraf does not have to return to Pakistan any time soon and well he shouldn’t. He should sit outside and wait for his time. Surely his time will come as did it for the PPP and PML(N) who came back as saviors and protectors of “democracy”.Recommend

  • abid mohiuddin

    I seriously disagree on several points:

    -Musharraf has his limitations when he was in uniform and had to deal with politicians to get his govt worldwide support. We now have to bring him back as a civilian with full support and I no doubts that if there a civilian person in Pakistan who can take on numerous challenges then he is Musharraf

    The other alternative is to bring Army back to power to deal with Corrupt politicians like Zardari and Nawaz Sharif. The choice is ours .
    I agree that CJ will be ready to take revenge but then world will not as as Justice anymore .If he wants to do justice he will not find anything against Musharraf him as he did every thing ( Emergency declaration,Akber Bugti case and Lal Masjid case etc ) with full support of Army and the then vice -COAS is now the COAS and no way CJ can take any action against Mr.Kiyani

    You r accepting that Musharraf improved Economy but give credit to Shaukat Ariz and then you hold Musharraf responsible for everything bad, What a CONTRADICTION!!

    There are dangers to his life but HE is a real commando and will take his risk MAY ALLAH PROTECT HIM


  • Sam

    Don’t give a flying hoot what crimes he committed. All I know is that inflation was at 6%, corporate earnings were great, GDP growth was at 8% compared to our current 2.5%(Probably less). So buzz off and let him pawn some political justice. Jiye Mushie Recommend

  • ADE

    That was a very bold article, no doubts. Recommend

  • Saamia

    Hamza want to share why this change of heart? Recommend

  • Burhan

    All i hear are a lot of ifs ands or buts of what would happen once musharaf returns. I dont get why people personally hate musharaf when the shareef brothers, zardaris (yes zardaris- bilawal is not a bhutto) and other families have done worse to the country and its people.Recommend

  • Malik Tabeer

    Welcome President Musharraf very warm welcomrRecommend

  • A Suhail

    Nawaz and Zardari are corrupt and Mush is not. WOW, REALLY??? How can Mush afford to live in a place he is living in London? How about the two condos he has in Dubai? How can an army chief of an impoverished nation afford all this and yes one thing also he donated 10 million for the flood relief. Steal 100 million and donate 10 million thats the mantra of all Pak rulers be it Mush or any other. For me his actions over Kargil and the resulting backlash against Pakistan is enough for never to vote for this guy. Kargil changed the world view about us and we were and still viewed as a nation of yahoos. Recommend

  • Waqas

    No matter how the media and his enemies want to discredit him, it just shows that he is considered as a threat to their fiefdom, otherwise they wouldn’t have bothered to comment even.
    The fact is that among the current lot, he has certain qualities which make him better than the rest. Writer rightly says that he gave us hope, and at this time this is exactly what we want. The challenges are not easy and will take time to tackle them. We want hope of a better tomorrow for our children…. this can not be expected from any other person than him. Recommend

  • Hamza A. Khan

    I lost interest after the first para. Terribly written article. There should be a quality control for the blogs which are being posted on the website, too.Recommend

  • Moz

    Musharraf has more support compare to current politicians. CJ can’t do anything against Musharraf, because CJ would have to look into himself first.

    If inflation went up during his time, then so did per capita income. I think Musharraf has a very good chance to regain power. Recommend

  • Moz

    Oh as far as his safety is concern, then that is not an excuse why he shouldn’t return. You r talking of safety as if you are 100% sure that you can safely reach home after work in Pakistan. You are never going to have full support, and hes got haters too.Recommend

  • Yousaf

    First of all, I would rather slap you several times to wake you up to observe the notorious lions around you right now snatching peopole’s rights. You have no right to talk to the readers or Musharraf fans in this way, making you the axis of wisdom and all those who support musharraf are fools.

    Musharraf is always welcomed to Pakistan…. He has served the Pakistan for 43 years..and people like you can not teach him what to do and what not.

    I request Express Tribune to remove General Musharraf’s photo from your article..and put your’s on. Recommend

  • Patriot

    An article full of contradictions and lack of research. Esp the comments on economy complete credibility out of this article. Inflation was high when he left, yes…but wasnt it a worldwide phenomenon then? now it is mostly down but have failed to match the worldwide inflation number.

    I agree with saamia, do share the reasons why you withdrew your support. Anway, your article is surely going to get a lot of hits as it has “Musharraf” in its titleRecommend

  • Syed Yousaf

    One of the worst character in Pakistan History. He practically laid foundation for Pakistan destruction through War on Terror and NRO.Recommend

  • Sabeer

    After reading a dozen articles here, yours was a breath of fresh air. – NOT because it was well written with good arguments. But because it was funny in its own sardonic way.

    No offence intented Mr. Usman but you’ve been contradicting yourself all throughout the article.. it is obvious you once loved the man and now your dislike for him reeks through your writing. But you’re still confused.

    Just to give you an example… “The economic growth under his tenure (which ought to be attributed to Shaukat Aziz and not him) resulted in unparalleled levels of inflation.” – May I take the liberty of asking who brought Shaukat Aziz in the first place? Let me recall.. hmm wasn’t it Musharaf himself?

    According to my understanding, medium level of inflation is a sign of DEVELOPMENT and so both are co-related. We should actually be ‘thanking’ the guy for the development instead of shutting our minds and jumping in on the Musharaf bashing bandwagon. I use the word ‘thank’ because he was (as you rightly pointed out) the only hope compared to the crooks we have and his doings shouldn’t be taken for granted. I reiterate – thank you Musharaf.

    I’m amazed… people can overlook issues like violating the constitution, his and his team’s corruptions issues for a decade, when they like him but when their dislike for him creeps in, they see everything that is written on the wall. And some that is not.

    Whether he should return to politics or not is a separate topic altogether but let’s first get our understanding and facts straight.Recommend

  • Inqilabi

    Looking at your personal profile…one can easily tell about your family background. It is so much intersting that after spending so many years abroad you kept a close eye on Pakistani politics…..hope you may join in future. A part, the dynamics of Pakistani politics is much different as i looks from your A/C drawing room…the country fell victim of a strong Fuedal-Military-Beaucracy trio…which created a class of its own…an elite class…the one who had the right to rule on the rest. The first resistance came in the form of Mujeeb/East Pakistan which was crushed in the name of ‘patriotism’ and later creation of Bangladesh.

    Coming to your article, Musharraf was not different from its predecessors. Came into power through his military might and then legitimate it and introduce his version of ‘democracy’. He remain in power with the help of corrupt politicians and the same ‘trio’. Then the lawyer cum civil society awakened and throw the militray dictator out….resulting in a more corrupt ‘democratic’ government. Now again whistles are blowing up for a change in setup.

    Can any of them ever think about the common poor people of Pakistan, who in past sixty years have earned nothing….it is become diffucult and difficult for them to earn a livelyhood. The only way to get rid of this ‘trio’ is a bloody revolution because the ‘trio’ didnt have anything at stake. They dont live/invest/educate in Pakistan neither their next generation…they just wait in a que for their turn to suck blood of poors of Pakistan. If somebody is expecting that a change would come if the current setup outsted from power….he is living in ‘fools heaven’
    Inqilan Zindabad!!Recommend

  • Disgusted

    I see a lot of complaining and bellyaching here every time i come and i have to say its gotten really old, really fast. if you were actively doing something to improve/help the country i would say go ahead you have a right to complain about the injustices you feel we are suffering or the different issues we are facing. However most likely your are like every other Pakistani (myself included) in the way that you would rather complain and moan about how you feel the world is unfair and how you think issues should be handled instead of actually leaving the comfort of your own home and trying to change things. I think you either should let your actions speak for you or if you are unwilling to act then you should just shut it.Recommend

  • Another opinion

    He’s had his moment in the sun. No system can revolve around one man and fall apart as soon as that person parts ways with the office. He would have us think that he is indispensable to Pakistan but unfortunately for him, hes not.Recommend

  • zaigham

    terribly written…
    if it does spell a doom of anyone, it has to be express…

    The economic growth under his tenure (which ought to be attributed to Shaukat Aziz and not him) resulted in unparalleled levels of inflation.


    For those who consider Musharraf the noble lion, I urge you to wake up and slap yourself across the head a few times so that you understand this: There is only one man whom we can safely calls the shots in Pakistan, and that man is now the resident of Army House. Not Musharraf. Now he will have to be just like any other sniveling politician…

    you seem quite contended with the status Quo…

    jismay na ho inqilaab maut hay woh zindagi
    roh e umam ki hayaat, kashmakash e inqilab


  • Alejandro

    Clearly Pakistan merits Musharraf-you get the leaders you deserve.Recommend

  • Muhammad Adnan

    Please stop imposing theoretical euphoria tic political science subject for a complex country like paksitan…. ive heard pro west minister model ppl so much in love with it that they simply refuse musharraf because army over threw elected govt.. u shud be thankful weve got a leader to stand behind… pakistan doesnt need democracy for the time being.. thats for the long term. we need leadership… what otehr reasons u gave to go back to pakistan otehr than yr friends and family are back home… ull be a proud paksitani is u show an image thats proud… musharraf is the proud image of paksitan.. the pride of paksitanRecommend

  • naseerahmed

    i do not trust musharraf because i heard his first speach and he did not acted what he said in his speach but brought corroupt politians which he new them very well so that people will remember him for his name i do not think he will do wellRecommend

  • Omar Yousaf

    agreed with the jist of the article though you did adopt a pick and choose approach… I refer to comments on economy… i wish to refer you to some facts that it was unprecedented economic growth not inflation which we witnessed during those years… for interested people please refer to the link below, scroll down and simply look at the summary chart… tells the whole story from 1999 to 2009 on GDP, revenue, reserves, exports, stock exchange, poverty level, literacy level, development budget etc.
    “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”
    Hopefully yours,Recommend

  • Syed Sharif

    Why do we have to recycle the old politicians and hope they will do better than the last time? Yes, they do better the next time, but only for themselves, their families and their inner circle of friends. What is the cost of all this. No growth, more corruption, more inflation and hope for more disasters to take place so we can beg for more aid. What we need is a revolution a Che Guava, a Moisetun (forgive my spellings) in other words a true patriot. If we have to sacrifice a few hundred, or thousand or hundred thousand people, so be it, we are already loosing that many yearly due to disease, hunger and political bombings. Do what Korea did in the late 50’s or China did in the 40’s, follow the example of Singapore, and then real things will happen. The corrupt only breed more corruption and more corrupt people are added to our Great Islamic Nation, and the numbers keep increasing. At friday prayers, maybe we should pray for a miracle, a true Pakistani, a HONEST Pakistani, A good human being, someone who will lead us (Pakistan) to the position that the great Quaid-e-Azam had invisioned for us. Recommend

  • Sabeer

    @disgusted: I absolutely agree with this person’s comment. We’d have taken this analysis lightly if people like the writer, who have lived most of their lives abroad and attended elite universities actually DID something for Pakistan sitting there or physically coming here (which is as unlikely as our current politicians learning a lesson or two) instead of just sitting in their cozy drawing rooms and churning analysis after analysis.

    Mind you, I’m not being judgmental.. maybe he’s more patriotic or active in doing something positive for our country than any of us here, but then let’s also learn to stop complaining and start doing more. Edhi is the best example we have. Recommend

  • kamran Ahmed

    I am waiting of Pm (Pervaiz Musharraf ) Pm ( Prime Minister ). Sir we are waiting of you.
    things are worst now a days ,every wear is darkness you are the only hope Recommend

  • HST

    for once i agree i want to see him live…. and also the president of Pakistan once again, lets see hoe he does it :)Recommend

  • MI

    An article that lacks research and application and which is full of contradictions. For example the wrtiter says “His behaviour with the Balochis, Akbar Bugti in particular, have not made him very popular in that province”. The writer must keep in mind that it was only the Balochistan province where Musharraf supported party PMLQ gained during the 2008 elections.

    @A Suhail. Any person earning USD 300 000 per lecture (3 crore rupee) can live any kind of life he wants. Being a Pakistani you must rahter be proud having of having a person of this calibre. Musharraf has his own status in the world, he is not like goof Nawaz. Musharraf opponents do not have much to speak or write aagainst him that is why they are are left with no choice but write just nonsense against him.

    Poor people have enjoyed during Musharraf era and would love to have that time once again. Recommend

  • hu

    Many of you have commented and I appreciate your input. Some have made personal or insulting remarks which are best left ignored. If you feel this article is terrible, then I apologize, and I hope the others will be better. Others have pointed out that I have ranted, that I am wrong, that I have no idea what I am talking about…etc. You are entitled to your opinion. Others, the more engaged and thoughtful of you, have made poignant observations which I hope I can address, but seeing as how it’s impossible to realistically reply to each of your comments, let me elaborate on what I meant and maybe we can generate a discussion from there.

    I do not in any way condone any takeover by the military. While I believe they are more capable than handling the country than the democrats, democracy, if left to flourish, will eventually lead us to where we need to be. There are pitfalls along the way. The road ahead will be full of hardship as we are realizing right now everywhere around us. That does not mean it must not be taken. There are many representing the upper strata of society that believe that democracy cannot work in Pakistan, that Martial law is the answer and Musharraf or one of his khaki acolytes will lead us to salvation. I agree that democracy cannot work in a society so fragmented ethnically, linguistically, socially and economically. But I will not and can never agree that dictatorial rule is the long term solution. In the short term, yes, Martial law may be helpful of ridding our country of social vices in the form of political leaders. But as history teaches us, and as many of you pointed out, those who come into power as saviors exit in disgrace…usually after legitimating their rule through a myriad of extra constitutional machinations.

    That being said; given the pathetic state of democratic rule thus far, were Martial law to arrive tomorrow, I would support it wholeheartedly.

    The crux of this piece however was not to debate the merits of democracy versus authoritarianism. There are two major concepts I wanted to emphasize. The first, that Musharraf should not return to Pakistan in the immediate future given the contentious nature of his rule as well as the number of legal and personal vendettas he faces. I have no doubt in my mind that the immature government we have will be swift to make an example of him and not confront bigger and more relevant issues. Second, and more importantly, is to show that this whole concept of “savior” leaders coming back to make a difference in the country is hogwash. We are already suffering greatly because of one such savior and I strongly caution all Musharrafites not to view his past rule as some great messianic paragon of governship. Yes, times were great under Musharraf, but only when he had absolute power. Those times are now over. Let’s stop living in the past. If we can agree that the past is prologue, that the present needs are dire, and the future is pessimistic, then we realize for once that we need to play a better leadership role for our future. It matters not where we come from, how we differ or what we’ve experienced…what matters is where we go from here. Recommend

  • Sabeer

    **The first, that Musharraf should not return to Pakistan in the immediate future given the contentious nature of his rule as well as the number of legal and personal vendettas he faces. I have no doubt in my mind that the immature government we have will be swift to make an example of him and not confront bigger and more relevant issues.

    Is it just me or has there been a change in your stance? I thought what you tried to convey earlier was that there couldn’t have been anybody worse than Musharaf, starting from his unconstitutional acts to killing Akbar Bugti to his corruption etc etc… you counted all his vices but now we’re told that’s not what you meant. As much as I agree with your rebuttal, most of us here admit the main analysis was rather harsh.

    That being said; given the pathetic state of democratic rule thus far, were Martial law to arrive tomorrow, I would support it wholeheartedly.

    Somebody who thinks Musharaf’s take-over was unconstitutional would support another martial law.. that is beyond me. Anyway.. I’m not going to attack your personal beliefs and contradictions but I’d like to share my opinion…

    We should actually be glad a fresh face is exercising his democratic right to take part in politics, a face that is recognized internationally, a face that portrays Pakistan as enlightened moderates throughout the world. We shouldn’t strip him off his right to participate in mainstream politics just because we think he’s going to be weak.

    I’d say better weak Musharaf than weak Zardari or Nawaz. Atleast we’ll have somebody intelligent, well-traveled and well-read. Atleast we’ll have somebody who, even though marred by corruptions according to some critics, does spend a dime or two on development. Recommend

  • Dr. Mohammad Ilyas

    Mr. Hamza Usman: Musharraf will come and he should come to clean up our beloved country from your favorite corrupt politicians. But this time Musharraf will come with the support of masses, which presently he enjoys most. People of Pakistan do not need excuses anymore neither they want to give the corrupt leaders endless time. Just in two years USD 17 billion have been added to the country’s external debt. What else MR HU you want from us. Enough is enough. We do not need this type of corrupt democracy anymore. Recommend

  • Parwaz Musharraf

    Meray Karoron Aziz Humwatno,

    As Abraham Lincoln or Kamal Ataturk and I said, I have a 6 point plan…Atiqa where are you my dear…Pakistan ka khuda hafiz.Recommend

  • http://www.pakspectator.com Sana Saleem

    I would never wish Musharraf to return to politics. At least I am not welcoming him!Recommend

  • MRH

    too speculative!Recommend

  • Walli

    Actually our People don’t deserve a President like Musharraf they deserve a man like Zardari who does not give a damn to what goes in the country !.


  • Walli

    @A Suhail:
    Did u had a phone call that Musharraf stole 100 million from Pakistan ?.
    He’s giving speaches in foreign universities and getting paid in $ the very next day he left the country.He was a President as well as the Chief of Army and get’s his pension and even for the sake of the fake comment of urs i agree with u that he stole 100 million from country so atleast he paid 10 million $ how much did Sharif brother’s and Zardari paid ?…. As far as Kargil is concerned it was already destroyed by Nawaz Sharif !.Recommend

  • S.A.Sajjo

    Musharraf will come and he should come to clean up our beloved country from your favorite corrupt politicians and make us real amrecon ‘Chaila Chamcha’.Recommend