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!!!