Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Musharraf's Report Card

Soon after General Musharraf's departure, against the multitude of pressures and turmoils in Pakistan, there were some calls of bringing him back, or at least, attempts to romanticize his era. Lest people forget, here is a good reminder that succinctly points out that many of our current turmoils have their roots in General Musharraf's policies. For other contributing factors, see a previous IS post here.

Musharraf's brazenness
Editorial, Daily Times, March 17, 2010

A news report of Seattle Times made it sound as if Musharraf was heading back home the moment he was sure that support and applause await his return. While talking to journalists in Seattle, where he is on a lecture tour, he dropped a hint that a party with the name of All Pakistan Muslim League had been registered. Whether the former president, now mostly referred to as the dictator, is seriously planning on entering politics in the near future or not, we have the following advice and observations to make to him.

Musharraf is a coup-maker who should have been held accountable for his actions. He overthrew an elected government, violated the constitution, tampered with the political process by creating a king’s party, instituted a local bodies system that suited his purposes, and rigged the 2002 general elections. He subverted the judiciary and initiated a process whose legacy will haunt us for years to come. Sane observers feel that the over-assertiveness of the judiciary that has been restored after Musharraf’s departure is a reaction to the en masse dismissal of judges and the movement that followed, a phenomenon that may not be in the long term interests of the institution of the judiciary or the country.

Musharraf extols his contributions to the economy. However, the economic situation today is merely a reflection of the kind of unsustainable consumer demand-led economic model his managers devised. We all know how his government failed to manage the energy sector and upgrade its capacity, which has ruined the economy.

He dares comment on the Taliban and al Qaeda culture in Pakistan when he himself made the fundamental contribution in promoting it by following a dual policy post-9/11. Pakistan caught hundreds of al Qaeda operatives and handed them over to the US, but provided sanctuary to the Afghan Taliban. The Musharraf regime banned the extremist organisations in 2002, but allowed them to continue their nefarious activities under new names. We are reaping the bitter harvest of Musharraf’s policies now, which have resulted in the emergence of the Pakistani Taliban. Today Pervez Musharraf has the temerity to call Nawaz Sharif a ‘closet Taliban’. This transcends the limits of brazenness, because he himself acted more like an ‘open Taliban’ during his years in power.

Many of Musharraf’s crimes come in the category of ‘High Treason’ in the Constitution of Pakistan and are punishable by death. He had been let off the hook as a quid pro quo because of an understanding with the PPP, and partly because the institution he headed would not allow its former chief to be dragged over the coals. But it seems that his ambition is undiminished. This talk of a party and a contribution to Pakistan cannot be without reason. Does he once again want to present himself, this time out of uniform, as a saviour? If it is true, he does not seem to realise that the immunity against criminal proceedings ensured by his powerful connections could unravel and he may be held accountable for the wrongs that he has committed.

Therefore our advice to the former General Musharraf is that he should count his blessings and enjoy his safety while lecturing around the world, and lay his dream of returning to politics to rest. It will only make the murky waters of politics in Pakistan murkier.

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