Mirror into Musharraf's soul - Mir Adnan Aziz - Thursday, November 11, 2010

Source : www.thenews.com.pk

My name is Ozymandias, king of kings. Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair! Nothing beside remains round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, the lone and level sands stretch far away.

(From Ozymandias by Shelley)

Our Ozymandias, former President Pervez Musharraf, true to his self, recently remarked of having no regrets for the Lal Masjid operation and the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti and bragged he would do the same again. In his heyday, to attend the UN General Assembly session, Musharraf asserted thus in an interview with The Washington Post on the harrowing ordeal of Mukhtaran Mai: "You must understand the environment in Pakistan. This has become a moneymaking concern. A lot of people say if you want to go abroad and get a visa or citizenship and become a millionaire, get yourself raped." On the eve of the May 12 massacre in Karachi, he declared with raised arms and clenched fists, 'the people of Karachi have shown their power." Publilius Syrus was right when he said: 'Speech is the mirror of the soul; as a man speaks so he is.'

Democratic governments have always awakened heady expectations, like the Musharraf-clone we presently have, only to do away with the promised pre-election manifestos and to shamelessly indulge in palace intrigues, nepotism, and corruption. Mian Nawaz Sharif, on a roll with the ouster of General Jehangir Karamat (COAS), Admiral Mansoor (CNS) and the then SC Chief Justice, thought that the appointment of Lt Gen Ali Quli Khan as COAS would strengthen the ambitious Gohar Ayub (Gen Quli's brother-in-law). He opted for a general without political linkages and a 'constituency'. The rest is history.

During his tenure President Musharraf had the backing of the army and a National Assembly granting him the power to rule in uniform (promising a ten-time elected stint in uniform!). His first three years had a comparatively decent run until the seven-point agenda gave way to the machinations of perpetuating personal image and power. The conduit was a totally dubious referendum and the delivery of the 'King's Party' in 2002. Post retirement and bereft of his heady days, Maj Gen Ehtesham's 'zameer' coaxed him to admit that it was manipulated by him as head of ISI's 'C' Directorate.

Come September 11, it took just one Armitage phone call to induce total capitulation from our swaggering caudillo. It is said many heads were scratched in the Pentagon/State Department ruining a chance of ordering a far more comprehensive charter of demands. Musharraf presented himself as an enlightened moderate (the 'merrily' gyrating type) and later on as a war president. War is an incompetent leader's Waterloo (Kargil) but also his best friend. Being a war president meant never having to take blame for any debacle. He made the criticism of his policies tantamount to being unpatriotic. With his rhetoric of 'Pakistan first' he wrapped himself in the sacred robe of patriotism, the military and national honour. In doing so he astutely took refuge in the holy of holies, the ultimate sanctuary of patriotism in our lives.

He tried to perpetuate his rule by playing on Western fears with frequently voiced concerns of an impending takeover of Islamabad and our nuclear assets. Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa, in the very heart of Islamabad and merely a stone's throw from 'Khayaban-e-Sohrawardy', was a step in that direction. On the economic front billions were ripped off in privatisation and stock exchange scams with speculators in property ruling the roost. The mirage that it was, the much touted economic revival with its mythically glimmering visage of glittering high-rises (moreso in Gwadar) and artificial economic conglomerates vanished.

The people were given an economic prosperity (of admittedly fudged figures) measured by the barometer of mobile phones sold. Progress was reduced to the 'balance' one had in his cell phone. The state washed its hand off the people by encouraging them to download jazzy tunes and catchy melodies. They hoped this would prove an opiate to help forget the rampant insecurity, impoverishment and absence of the most basic of all commodities.

Apart from the Lal Masjid operation, the Balochistan cauldron, abdication of sovereignty, selling off of our own and an NRO-infested legacy, he will be remembered as an utter failure to protect the rule of law and responsible for the fatal undermining of national institutions. What could be more telling of his time than the sacking of judges, using the army as a private security company, muzzling the media and the post-emergency takeover of the Balochistan Assembly? The main areas of the same were home to the FC whereas the basement served as a makeshift cell for 'prisoners'.

Ironically he was let off with a guard of honour, with our present defence minister calling him a national asset. It was another pitiful story of a rise and fall failing yet again to serve as a corrective reminder of our tragic follies. Karl Marx said: 'Historical events occur twice, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce'. Musharraf's advent to power was a great tragedy; his brazen attempt at a second coming, if anything, is a great farce.

The writer is a freelance contributor. Email: miradnanaziz@gmail.com

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