In 1999 When General Pervez Musharraf seized the power, wave of happiness was felt across the country for getting rid of whole lot of corrupt politicians. When Musharraf introduced his seven point agenda including Rebuilding of national confidence and morale, Strengthening the federation, remove inter provincial disharmony and restore national cohesion, Reviving the economy and restore investor confidence, Ensuring law and order and dispense speedy justice, Depoliticizing state institutions, Devolution of power to the grass roots level and Ensuring swift and across the board accountability of corrupt politician; Seniors in Department of mass Communication of Punjab University conducted thesis on practicalities and outcomes of his agenda.
Seniors now practicing journalists later said had he achieved those objectives even in half spirit he would not have to work for his political survivalism like all other politicians. In festivity i also committed to conduct thesis on General Musharraf. So had my final thesis done on the “Comparative Study of the Coverage of Referendum 2002 in English Dailies of Pakistan”. Referendum through which he legitimized his rule as president-general. General Musharraf has experienced alternative incarnations but aim was same “Power”: from coup-leader, Chief of Army Staff, to self-proclaimed chief executive of Pakistan, to popularly elected president-general, last but not least to disgraced president thrown out of power, to a man in self-imposed exile.
After two years he once again decides to launch himself as custodian of Pakistani politics. He has announced from Hong Kong that he intends to return to Pakistan as head of a new political party called the All Pakistan Muslim League eyeing the posts of Premier or President with an agenda to “change” Pakistan. This time, Musharraf intends to start a campaign to contest in the 2013 elections within the parameters of parliamentary democracy not as Chief of Army Staff or uniformed General. He showed his intentions to return to politics at a time when leading political parties – the ruling Pakistan Peoples’ Party and the PML-N face extreme criticism for their mishandling of recent devastating floods.
During flood when GEO aired a sponsored ad showing Musharraf; had smelt rat. People kept arguing about status and source of one crore PKR he donated for flood victims. He announced his return on a tricky time exploiting political parties weaknesses thus Najam Sethi senior analyst says
“He is trying to convert supporters by presenting [the flood response] as a failure of political forces domestically and at the same time waiting to play his cards internationally, especially in the Middle East and America, in case any political vacuum is created,”
Finding his gesture admirable he himself assumed still huge segment of Pakistani society approves him in streets; besides quoting big follower-ship on Facebook that comprises of 300,000 youth aged between 18 and 34 and connoted them as Pakistan’s silent majority: the progressive-minded, economically mobile, urban. Youth; he knows is fed up with the ongoing corrupt system be it political or social.. so yearning for “Change”- so he better decided to exploit this Change Mnatra too.
However the essence of democracy that should be felt on his announcement of return is entirely missing in general. Many Politicians beside social mobilizers and social architects are denouncing his announcement. Several legal case have been lodged against him including murder case of Baloch leader Akbar Khan Bugti, Missing people cases about whom Chairperson of Missing Persons Association, Amina Masood Janjua said the former dictator should not come to Pakistan as people were still suffering due to the wrong steps he took during his nine-year tenure. Big chunk of Pakistanis are antagonized and hold him responsible for the on-going terrorist activities in Pakistan. That are resulting in suicide bombings and killings in Pakistan as an aftermath of “war on terror” which started in 2001 under his rule. A conservative section of social thread still discounts his philosophy of “Enlightened Moderation”. His role in signing NRO, Constitution Violation, killing several innocent students in Lal Masjid, banning several religious outfit and lastly assassination of Benazir Bhutto. He reared several enemies under his collar.
Giving devil his due; in his tenure Pakistan got the attention of International community; due to its Geo-Strategic locations Pakistan became front line state in War on terror; thus huge amounts of aid assisted Pakistan’s economy. Further a social stagnation was over that earlier rulers could not break. Media gained new shape and freedom to express was observed. Despite his all constructive measures; his negative approaches demoted him from a respectable President to a tyrant and military dictator.
Prime Minister of Pakistan Syed Yousaf raza Gilani said that Chief Justice will welcome him if he return as he would be shackled as soon as he would keep his first foot on Pakistan. Many interpreted PM’s statement as to Chief Justice would be his Protocol Officer; however he was of the view that legal cases against him would take him to Courts where he will be prosecuted by Chief Justice. It is obvious that Musharraf has many difficult legal and political hurdles to cross. Further he’s had multiple death threats for his role in mixing state institutions with militancy. At the end of his rule when he fired the Chief Justice, he triggered severe backlash. He then declared Emergency Ruleand imposed censorship rules on the media – eventually leading to his ouster.
However salute to Musharraf’s desire to return to power and determination to defend his illegitimate steps; he said
“I’m prepared to face that (any cases) for the sake of Pakistan. And I know since whatever I did has all the legal backing and legal cover, I’m very confident that nothing can happen legally against me,” However he added that “My going back is dependent certainly on an environment to be created in Pakistan,”
— and for that he has selected a virtual world of facebook for feedback. However in Telethon he could collected suffice money for flood victims depicts that people silently are giving their consent in his favour. In other words people are fed up with the failed policies of current Government. In wake of Change mantra; Musharraf truly seems to exploit the situation. He is sharp minded player and for me he is pretesting people’s reaction in order to mend or bend a social environment that is favourable for his return. We must not forget he still is a winning star in eyes of West and America for supporting the War crimes in Afghanistan. It can only be wished if he has to return his sincerity towards Pakistan should be tested first.
However his purported patriotic image being an Army officer is still in minds of Pakistanis that was evident by “Pakistan First” slogan. Irony of fate is like all other politicians he would claim his readiness to do anything for Pakistan; and naive Pakistanis would run to try him once again as they always do. Further a comparison of failures of present government and Musharraf’s era back will facilitate his “Sacred Dream to Returning to Power” to make Pakistan a “Better” hell for Pakistanis.
A euphemistically funny reaction noticed about his return among people that is >> one pair of shoe of 180 Million people will make 320 Million shoes.. No one will be ashamed to become Muntazir Zaidi once he will hit the Pakistan’s ground. This is the equal responsiblity on shoulders of Pakistanis besides Judiciary to play role. Furthermore leading political parties should also adopt a strong stance on his arrival welcoming or denouncing. I trust 18 Million Pakistanis who have the real power to decide if he should return or not.