The third option - Syed Jawaid Iqbal - Tuesday, April 26, 2011

These were the days just after Pervez Musharraf had resigned from office as President. He was having lunch with a group of friends at the Boat Club in Karachi when an elderly lady got up from the next table, approached the former president and said: “What sort of people have you handed over the country to?” Musharraf looked at her and then bowed his head in silence. He had no answer to give.

It appears that the man who ruled Pakistan for almost nine years and did a reasonably good job is still caught in that silence. He makes perfectly relevant utterances from time to time but is somehow not able to make sure that what he is saying and what he is thinking about the people and the country is heard by the masses.

Next August, it will be three years since Musharraf relinquished the reins of power. Much water has flowed under the bridge since then. In fact, it has turned into a deluge of towering prices, corruption on a massive scale, almost zero governance, crime at its worst, an ineffective foreign policy and shameless politicking that has continued to hurl Pakistan’s ship around in the rough seas of survival.

Now that democracy has lost its shine for the people of Pakistan, thanks to the extra efforts made by Messrs Zardari and Gilani and all their buddies, there are a growing number of people who look forward to Pervez Musharraf’s return – and somehow access to the seat of power. Their view is that he would be an answer to all the rot that is slowly gnawing into the national fabric.

In reality, returning to the Pakistani political fray would be an uphill task for Musharraf, considering the high money-spending benchmarks already set by the likes of the Sharifs, the Chaudhrys and the many waderas and sardars. This will not happen in the short term either. Furthermore, there is too much riding on the retired general’s life. Whatever the truth, too much poison and hatred have been infused into the minds of the people by those who do not like him or are afraid of him. Then, there is the media which is working overtime to weave a web of revulsion against the very man who, despite his military credentials, accorded unbelievable liberty to them. There was many a “democrat” who came before and after Musharraf but did not make the slightest effort for the cause of media freedom.

Now, it is the Musharraf-liberated media that has strengthened the commonly held belief that hundreds of youthful protestors were killed in Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa. The media has also worked relentlessly to establish that it was Musharraf who gave direct orders for the killing of Akbar Bugti. And, over time, more people have been led by the same media to believe that Musharraf was “involved” in Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.

The pity is that no intense effort has been made by the APML to counter these allegations. As far as Akbar Bugti’s death is concerned, even the ISPR has not stepped forward to issue a clarification of what actually happened. Such a move would have removed a lot of dust from the Bugti incident as this was an army operation in which a senior officer was killed along with his subordinates. The deaths occurred as a result of the heavy rocks around Bugti’s hideout caving in. It certainly did not happen because Musharraf, sitting in Rawalpindi, gave orders to gun down the Baloch leader. In fact, the army colonel who died and the other officers had been sent to negotiate with Bugti.

Politicians and the media also do not lose an opportunity to propagate the view that Musharraf is responsible for the wave of terrorism that the country is engulfed in and it was he who invited the US to launch drone attacks into Pakistani territory.

What the APML needs to do is launch its own blitzkrieg of information about all the good that was done in Musharraf’s time. There was talk of a whitepaper when Musharraf resigned but no work seems to have been done on the document. If taken up in earnest, it could serve as an important and authentic tool for the former president and his cause.

Musharraf would have, of course, avoided his downfall had he exercised better judgment in taking certain decisions, such as on Kalabagh Dam, Akbar Bugti, the chief justice’s removal, imposition of the emergency and the NRO. However, the perception that he did not did not take his political and military comrades on board in assessing crucial situations is not true.He waited for months and consulted everyone who mattered before ordering the SSG units to break into Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa.

He was first criticised for being slow in taking firm action against the forceful occupants, but once he gave orders for the action, he was seriously censured for having launched an overly rash and “inhuman” army operation. The irony is that at no point did his political comrades make an effort to clear the confusion surrounding the standoff. They never bothered to even mention that no less than the Imam-e-Kaaba had been approached by Pervez Musharraf to intervene and persuade the militants to come out peacefully.

On the other hand, where political issues were concerned, he went into the direction pointed by the politicians around him while people like Shaukat Aziz, Humayun Akhtar, Khurshid Kasuri, Dr Hafeez Shaikh, Liaquat Jatoi, Shaikh Rashid, Faisal Saleh Hayat, Ijazul Haq and Jehangir Tareen chose to take the backseat. Here his simplicity prevented him from making more balanced judgments. A good example is the reference against Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry that he sent to the Supreme Judicial Council without giving the matter much thought – and even allowing himself to be photographed in uniform with the chief justice just a day before the storm was let loose.

To be concluded

The writer is chairman of “Moderates,” a private-sector think tank. Email: chairman@

Source :

No comments:

Post a Comment