Over the last few years, one question which has taken its rounds among the people of Pakistan has been – was the former General Musharraf better than this democracy? It’s a tough question to answer seeing the mess we are currently in but I have always leaned towards a – no. My view on this aspect has been challenged by many and many, many hours have been spent debating it. There is a school of thought which believes that the Musharraf era was better than the current one. No doubt it was in certain aspects. It was far better in all the short term things but there is a very strong argument that the long term affects of his policies have been drastic for the country.
Musharraf’s over throw of Nawaz was dubious. Anybody who is remotely associated with the litigation system of the country – particularly criminal trials – will know what power the various organs of the State can assert on the litigation process. The trial could not be a fair trial keeping in view the powers involved in it. An unfair trail was bad enough but then the subsequent pardon to an alleged “criminal” took the cake. If Nawaz was actually a “criminal” then allowing him to go into exile rather than receive the same punishment as a common Pakistani – also did not impress me about Musharraf. The type of access allowed to the US post 2001 into Pakistan tantamount to trading Pakistan’s sovereignty. Akbar Bugti being killed in the manner in which he was, was also arguably a murder. Then he over throws the top judge of the country in a move which showed that perhaps Musharraf had gone on a power trip – the often in our history seen trait of our leaders. As far as I am concerned, the straw that broke the camel’s back came when Musharraf agreed to the draconian NRO. Musharraf felt that a law which would pardon a powerful few while the common man would have to face the atrocities of the criminal system of this country was a fair and just law. In other words, to retain his power, Musharraf was not much concerned for the majority of the people of Pakistan.
I must acknowledge that during the Musharraf era, the economic conditions of that time appeared better – there were more jobs for the urban youth and business was better. I still meet many apolitical bankers and executives who are all praise for the Musharraf era. But then look how he wiped out all credit one can give him on that account – he imposed the present government on us! A government that went on such loot and plunder of the country that any good derived during the Musharraf regime quickly vanished. I must also acknowledge that as a person I quite liked Musharraf. I still do. He is a pretty OK guy I think. A “cool dude” as my daughter would say.
People will remember the often repeated sentence of Musharraf’s during his power days – “main aik commando hoon; main darta warta nahee hoon”. I used to admire him for that tremendously. However, it is true that good things don’t last long. With the passage of time and then seeing Musharraf flee the country when things became hard – I realized that it is easy to make claims such as “main aik commando hoon; main darta warta nahee hoon” when one is the Chief of Army or the Chief Executive or the President. I think that there is no harm in staying in a foreign country if one feels that that is safer for a person but should one really expect it of a person who reminded us many times of his bravery?
My disillusionment with Musharraf grew when I read the newspaper today. On the assumption that the story is correct, it is said that one of Musharraf’s close confidante Raza Bokhari a US-Pakistani businessman, sought from the Americans the trouble free return for Musharraf by ensuring that he is neither arrested in Pakistan nor is barred from traveling inside or outside the country. Musharraf ostensibly also asked the Americans for a pro-Musharraf statement as soon as he arrives in Pakistan. Musharraf also asked Washington to ensure that within a few days of his arrival, US ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter should meet Musharraf. How sad is this. Truly disappointed with Musharraf am I.
Instead of opposing Pakistan’s political and economic exploitation by imperialist powers and standing by the side of the peoples and nations struggling for their freedom and independence from foreign domination – Musharraf is fast proving that he is ready to become a US and Israeli man in Pakistan if the price is right. So much for claims of democracy and so much for “sub say pehlay Pakistan”. Musharraf should join Imran Khan – let the façade finish on both ends once and for all.