Why Musharraf Failed to See the Obvious?

Why Musharraf Failed to See the Obvious?

It’s still baffling why General Musharraf trusted his questionable discretion and against advices from all the friends, supporters and reportedly the military as well (who he used to lend ears to earlier on), came to Pakistan ending a self- imposed exile of nearly four years.



Why on earth did he do it, when all odds were stacked against him?



In my view there could be three possible reasons that Gen Musharraf had in mind when deciding to come back to Pakistan.



First, history assured Musharaff that there is no reason why he would be punished if his predecessors with for more glaring mistakes were able to live or die without any accountability. He was confident that despite his arrest warrants by various courts no one would dare handcuff him in Pakistan.



Pakistan has been ruled by Army generals for more than half of its existence. Gen Ayub Khan prided on winning the 1965 war for us against a ten time stronger India but the reality was that the Tashkand Agreement saved us from a humiliating defeat. We let him go in 1969. And later his picture became a permenant fixture behind trucks asking him to come back. ’teri yaad aae tere jaane ke baad.’



Gen Yahaya Khan in his short but tumultuous three years gifted us with 1971 debacle in which we lost half of our country. He left the saddle and we let him go. Gen Zia blessed us with most of the ills that we face today still we were content to suffer him for another decade had the mangoes not exploded in plane when he was airborne over Bahawalpur.



Second,he had false presumptions that he was hugely popular in Pakistan particularly among the youth. He came back claiming overwhelming majority wanted him back at the helm of affairs. He was confident in all his public appearances, until his arrest, of a victory in the elections – which was not to be.



Third, while in exile he was missed the limelight that he had enjoyed for nearly a decade and desperately wanted to take the centre stage.



But alas, he grossly miscalculated for he was coming to a changed Pakistan. There were times when people were arguably mesmerised by the charm of neatly attired generals with immaculate English accent, an air of aloofness and nonchalant attitude toward the state affairs. They were generally perceived as most suited for job of ruling and were hence allowed by and large unfettered stints. No longer that is the case.



Against all speculations in public, the long hanging sword of article 6 is about to fall on Gen Musharraf. A vociferous majority support the action; a few whimper their dissent.


Major opposition parties in the Parliament have shown their unconditional support. Q League, the major beneficiary of the Musharraf regime are the sole voice in the Parliament is against grilling the former President. But there is no going back now.



Even a common man on the street mostly is in favor of holding this trail so that no khaki in future dares stepping out of its role and usurp the power unconstitutionally. The others more sanguine think the government should focus its attention on solving the major crises like power shortage and law & order and let Musharraaf issue take the back seat for a while.



The general perception is that the verdict if given against Gen. Musharraf will have a symbolic value for the times to come. Any military chief’s act of usurping power will be deemed as unconstitutional. And anyone with a brinkmanship attitude like Musharraf will think 100 times before embarking on such an adventure.



People who voted in large numbers in the May elections also look in a mood to finally settle for a system of governance that is largely followed by the world – it’s flaws notwithstanding.



Back to Chak Shahzad. Facebook fans in hundreds of thousands who the General banked upon while coming back to Pakistan are silent. The lone- warrior Ahmad Raza Kasuri, counsel for Gen. Musharraf , is holding the fort for him in these choppy times. He doesn’t see any reason why the General is being put on trial?

This reminds me of a funny incident that I read somewhere about General Yahya Khan after the Dhaka Fall. Upon arrest, he insisted on being taken by road from Rawalpindi to the Sihala Rest House. When told it is not safe for him as people might harm him if he is seen. He is famously known to have remarked in Punjabi: ‘ main kise di bakree kholi aie? Have I untethered their goat?



Perhaps, excessive alcohol consumption may explain why he failed to see the reality. And how easily he forgot that he is the lead author of the East Pakistan tragedy?



General Musharraf sipping coffee and pulling at cigar at his farm house might also be thinking like Gen Yahya Khan as to why the judiciary, and parliament and others are after him. For he has untethered no goat ( of nation) either?



One can understand what blinded Gen Yahya Khan. What blinded Gen Musharraf? Oh, no!!!


Tariq Masood Malik

A contributor for The News/Geo blogs

  • M.Saeed

    Thewriter says, “And anyone with a brinkmanship attitude like Musharraf will think 100 times before embarking on such an adventure”.

    But, this is the exact opposite of what the title of this blog states, i.e. Why Musharraf failed to see the obvious?

    If Musharraf can fail to see the obvious, why can’t the others follow suit in a hurry? After all, power has the enormous lust for corruption and corruption is our best bread and butter in a hurry!

    • Anonymous

      Is there a cure for megalomania Saeed Sb?

      • M.Saeed

        Qalim Sb., your question is very pertinent and interesting.
        According to simple Text-book definition, megalomania or authoritarianism is a disease that is closely related to schizophrenia. If properly analyzed, its symptoms can be treated and cured by appropriate medical interventions but unfortunately, a megalomaniac almost always is strongly against such actions
        because he is rigidly sure of himself being extremely healthy and strong and thinks about those suggesting medical intervention being themselves in need of such treatment. For such a person, to be powerful is a personal beauty above any worldly charm.

  • Anonymous

    …..perhaps he was wearing very old spectacles!

    Remember Reagan – ‘Buck stpos here’. Oakistan has a unique commando chief without the courage to take ownership of his decision, and Judging by the farcical performance of his lawyers, seems he is still not seeing the obvious as he kerps their counsel.

    One hopes that army is mature enough now to understand that Musharaff and Army are two separate entities!

  • Ashfaq Bokhari

    Where is cat ?I want to bell now

  • Anonymous

    NASAH Sb

    You want to ‘let the deluded man go.’ Unfortunately for Pakistan, that has been happening for the past nearly 60 years. About time law started taking its course too. There is still the secret letter of Zardari government to the Swiss and cases against the Sharifs pending too. “Mitti pao” as in Shujaat language, is not really an option any more if Pakistan is to progress.

    • M.Saeed

      One of the simple signs of a Momin is, he always fixes his eyes on his goals and moves forward with sincere resolve.

  • Anonymous

    I think my friend you need to revisit the history of the fall of Andalucia – the sense of exageration does not do justice to ANY party.

  • Anonymous

    You are correct sir, it was President Truman originally used the phrase. My reference was supposed to be to Admiral Poindexter, President Reagan’s NSA advisor in the context of Iran Contra affair and Col Oliver North.

  • Anonymous

    Perplexing – on one hand tge bloggers complain about poor law and order implementation in Pakistan and on the other they want to stop laws being applied to their nearest and dearest for their own sentimental or partisan reasons.

    Hopefully there is enough sense to realise that the biggest failure of the law is not it lack of application but its selective application. If expediency takes over in application of law then all who want Musharaff to be set free without facing the law will not have ANY moral grounds to complain about ANY future failures of the law.

  • M.Saeed

    Constitution of 1956 was based upon Unity. Ayub’s Martial Law was a counter-coup against the earlier coup-d’etat of Maj.Gen. Iskandar Mirza who wanted Ayub to meet his nasty selfish demands.
    Musharraf never knew who forced the coup d’etat against Nawaz Government till the time he landed and asked his “well-wisher” who pushed him into that.
    Ayub’s Basic Democracy System was the best democratic option for the masses to get their voices heard right next door. In fact, it was the “Mother of all Democracies” within Pakistani context.
    Unless we give credits where genuinely due, we shall never have any basis for development.

  • Anonymous

    There is quote attributed to a retired US Army officer: “”Musharraf is intelligent, but Zia-ul-Haq was astute”. (B. Raman, “A Skeptic’s View of General Musharraf)

    His explanation of the difference was: “Astuteness is the ability to apply intelligence in practice. If one took Zia and Musharraf to a cliff and asked them to jump down, Zia would have asked: “Why the hell should I?” But, Musharraf would have jumped, broken his bones and then only asked himself: “Why the hell did I?”

    Sadly, both caused a huge amount of damage to Pakistan and its interests.

    • M.Saeed

      There is also a vernacular attribute to soldiers saying, “faujioun ka bhaija parade our attention maiN joutay mar mar ke ghuttnouN maiN aajata hai”.
      meaning, soldiers beat their brains down to knees following heavy boot-drill orders.

  • Babur Idris

    Musharraf is yesterday’s news and like they say it is better to let sleeping dogs lie. It makes not a iota of difference whether Musharraf is tried or not. Can’t anyone see that it is basically a deception aimed at diverting attention

  • Anonymous

    NASAH Sb

    So both are ‘double Ds’ – isn’t that a size for female under garment – usually artificially enhanced like the two gentlemen’s perception of their own self!

  • Anonymous

    ” I think the times have changed — the army has finally been made to realize that its place is in the barracks — not in the presidential palace ”

    NASAH Sb, aap ke moo mein ghee shakar (not too much though to avoid any health issue!). In that case, Musharaff trial should only be seen as the law taking its normal course. CJ will not be on the bench and most likely would have retired by the time any judgement comes through. In any case, CJ as a judge is not above in status to other SC. judges (unlike the current position of COAS versus corp commanders!). Treason trial would above all set an example which needs setting badly in Pakistan i.e. no one us above the law.

    1999 coup was condoned in 17th amendment. Yes many are arguing that 18th amendment undid the 17th amendment cover but that is a legal consitutional debate for Musharaff’s defence lawyers to put to the courts. And yes i it comes to putting all those and others who aided Musharaff, up to trial, lets do that to. For now Musharaff case is in the courts and unlike the Swiss cases and other NAB cases involving Sharifs, Zardari, Chaudheries, Makhdoom etc, lets have a case which is not dealt with political expediency – for the sake of a stable Pakistan!

    Suddenly, Pakistan is loking a lot better and if this case does not go through, expect the same old – military in Egypt seems to be confirming that.

    …and I fully agree and support your observations about the COAS, his status and manner if his visits. In fact if any thing, he should have ISPR issue an unconditional statement supporting the civilian trial of a retired General

    . There were commanders who opposed him but because of the way te COAS’s power is structured, it does not have a check from othe corp commanders. Any dissents may not be in public knowledge so the appearance is of total unanimity with the Chief (alternative being a total breakdown in command structure and civil war). If anything, the senior officers should realise that Musharaff does not have te grace or guts to own his decisions and is trying to save his own skin. If you remember Generl Niazi offered himself and wanted a court martial, which was denied him.

  • Anonymous

    Even though the graph of prosperity, peace, respect, inflation, stability is far better during their era as compare to these so called civilian governments All the civilian governments established in Pakistan after the first Marshal law of 1958 is/were by remains of Dictators you call them Civilian Dictators who proved themselves to be more deteriorating to Pakistan and the nation as well, Please explore a better word of evil in dictionary for these civilian dictators

  • Anonymous

    Nasrullah Sb

    ….or a 21 gun salute with him tied to one of the guns, is what I’d advocate if I favoured death penalty!

    NASAH Sb forgets that apart from the civilian trials of past times for treason, the Army itself has court martialled senior officers in te last twenty years or so. More recently, Brigadier Ali and past, Maj General Zaheer Abbassi in 1995 and his accomplices including Brigadier Billah for example,were jailed for attempted coup against Benazir’s second government. I think the general was freed in Musharaff’s time – at least moral consistency on his part – how could one general be in jail for attempting sanething as Musharaff, who ends up president/ceo?!

    Really failto understandthe logic behind not trying the powerful. Perhaps we should close all courts, save a lot of money, and sort out criminal diputes under ‘alternative dispute resolution’ too (kind of qasas and diyat on te shallow!)