THE AMERICAN NOTEBOOK
By Asif Jamal
Commando style heroic touchdown of the tenth and longest serving President of Pakistan, General Parvez Musharraf, despite having uncertainty of his safety, he still proved that he is the man of his word who is ready to face all prevailing challenges and is ready to even put his life on stake on his principles. So he touches the soil again after four years of his self-imposed exile with an expectation of taking the political center stage again and itâ€™s not because of any lust of power, but a sheer feeling of pure love to the motherland leaving that safe and sound life abroad aside, he has indeed made a move that only a patriotic brave army man could have taken under the circumstances when neither he is sure of his triumph nor he is cast-ironed his safety.
President Musharraf has survived at least three assassination attempts during the time when he was in power earlier and even to date when he has serious threats to his existence, adding those cases hovering around on him, his return is indeed very courageous and for sure he must have pensively pondered all aspects of his safety and integrity. He acknowledges that there are a lot of challenges in front of him but he bravely says that he is ready to face them all and he is not afraid of anyone but Allah so, to his mind, he has put his life in danger to save Pakistan.
Valiant by nature, President Musharraf has high hopes of taking mandate in the upcoming general elections on grounds of leaving Pakistan in much better condition than it is today but sour taste that he left behind him then is not easy to dilute.
The five years of bad governance has pushed the country at least 50 years back in progress but having an analogy of only the last governmentâ€™s failure will not justify anything. There were many important issues were neglected during President Musharrafâ€™s tenure as well but if the yard stick is the last PPP government, then, indeed, situations were not as absurd as it is today. However, what is the likelihood of him taking the control seems far from reality unless or otherwise, there is another strategy in place that is if somehow all other parties unanimously announce their support in favor of his newly formed party, APML which is again very unlikely but anything is possible, in a place like Pakistan.
No doubt he has a lot of credentials to support his aspiration of becoming the head of state again, but on contrary to this, whatâ€™s going to haunt him is how he got the power in the first time! The civil society, despite of its inability of managing the system under democracy, still donâ€™t like the dictatorship. In this particular scenario, he is perhaps the only one in the history of Pakistan that in spite of him being the longest serving undemocratic president, he wishes to come back to power now through the democratic way to change the questionable destiny of Pakistan but really will he be able to win the mandate across the territory? No matter how captivating he is, but he still has to assimilate that he is dealing with those 70% who live in the rural areas and mainly controlled by feudal-lords of the respective area. Had he taken action against the real dictatorship of those feudal lords during his reign then, it may have been a bit more conducive for him to get a landslide! Thus, the only workable strategy for him is really to vow the prevailing political strength and get them to bow down to his leadership under some sort of arrangements otherwise, this dream will never come true since Imran Khan is equally desperate to take the control in his hands.
To this connection, I have brought in two distinguished individuals to present their point-of-view on the subject:
Amir-Ul-Islam, a very prominent businessman from NJ, while commenting on President Musharraf says: â€œWhile others, looking from outside, might ascribe ulterior, personal and ambition related motives to his desire to come back, he is looking at it through a different prism. To him, he is the only hope of salvation for the country and for the country to survive; he must come back and take over the reins.â€
He added, â€œthe rationale for this view point is substantiated by his actions prior to his ouster as well. He is a man of principles and yet he is a pragmatist and a strategist. When the time came, he did whatever he had to do to preserve his government. He made the deal with the devil. End justified the means. He was utterly convinced that not only the country needed him but that there was no other viable alternate. He rationalized that preserving his rule is not only the best course for the nation but the only course and to that end he theorized that whatever actions needed to be taken were justified. Five years later, he is still working under the same paradigm.â€
â€œCorruption in Pakistan is a systemic problem and a matter of mindset. GPM is more of a strategist than a tactician. True, that the corruption during his tenure was not as pervasive as today but it was still fairly rampant. To his credit he managed to maintain a reputation of honesty and integrity in a personal level but even his closest aides were embroiled in multitude of scandals. On a more positive note however, if past is any guide, the will not be providing the patronage to corruption that is currently being afforded from the highest levels of government. This in itself should tamper down the malaise of corruption to some degree,â€ Mr Islam concluded.
Mawiz Siddiqui, a senior journalist based in NY, says: â€œFirst of all, a dictator cannot make space in peopleâ€™s heart no matter how good of a leader he was, they can tolerate him during the time, but cannot be accepted as a national leadership. â€œDemocratic leader is a democratic leader, remember when Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan, the cheering crowd that came to receive them was over 100,000 versus, for President Musharraf, to exaggerate, only a few thousand were there to welcome him. The detriment to him and his party is, they canâ€™t run a an election campaign effectively due to security concern, so fear is there which means, he may even go back to Dubai or London and settle down there after elections and still claim that he was brave enough to return to the soil and have faced all cases against him.â€
â€œI am sure he will not go into public openly. But he came back with the blessings of Saudi Arabia and western governments, just imagine why all of a sudden Nawaz Sharif is quite who once used to issue harsh statements against him,â€ Mr. Siddiqui concluded.
In the light of above point of views, at one point it seems that he has the capability in him to take the country into next level or at least, bring it back to the same place where he left five years ago and might even be able to bring back the looted money to national exchequer though it is too tall an order but even if he slow down the drain on nationâ€™s finances through pilferage, it would be a significant victory but on the hand it also looks that this task is far from the cry.
â€“ To participate in this column or for comments and suggestions, you may reach the scribe via email at email@example.com & follow him on Twitter @AsifJamalNY