Former Pak President Gen Parvez Musharraf who has been announcing return to politics finally did so by ceremoniously reviving the old political vehicle, All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) on 1 October at a gentlemen's club in Whitehall, London. He has been in exile since 2008 , a hoary Pak tradition; its rulers when overthrown flee the country. It began with President Gen Iskender Ali Mirza in 1958, when Gen Ayub Khan sent him, the squabbling and incompetent politicians and civil servants packing.
Musharraf apologized for "negative" actions he took while in power, but he vowed to galvanize Pakistanis and fight a jihad against poverty, hunger, illiteracy and backwardness. “I am aware of the fact that there were some decisions which I took which resulted in negative political repercussions, repercussions which had adverse effects on nation building and national political events, and my popularity also, may I say, plummeted in that last year. I take this opportunity to sincerely apologize to the whole nation. Ladies and gentlemen, only God is infallible."
Musharraf said he had learned his lessons and vowed not to repeat them, "I will go back to Pakistan before the next election whatever the dangers." "When there is a dysfunctional government and the nation is going down, its economy is going down, there is a clamor, there is a pressure on the military by the people."
The Commando is a charming rogue. How he had the gullible Indian editors for breakfast at Agra in 2001. It showed little political acumen to believe that Moghul style hospitality and flattery could have changed the Indo-Pakistan matrix controlled by Western powers and China to India’s detriment. Next time around in Delhi he claimed to have a new heart, for the better. He has made many contradictory pronouncements on many matters including his acts of omission and commission against India. He is a smart bazigar aka conjuror but not to be trusted at face value.
Last May, Musharraf told CNN that "The question of whether I am running for president or prime minister will be seen later." Adding that because of security concerns he could not give a timeframe for his return, but it would be before mid-term elections in 2013.
The official launch of the APML party had taken place quietly in the Karachi in June with a proclamation that the party would be for "all Pakistanis" without distinction of religion, ethnicity or social class. The APML derives its name from the historical Muslim League party which under Mohammad Ali Jinnah was promoted by the British to partition the subcontinent in 1947 and create a weak Pakistan state, abinitio reliant on London as a subservient ally to safeguard Western oil wells in the Middle East from USSR. India under Gandhi and Nehru would never join any military alliance. So the West supported Pakistan on Kashmir also. The rest is history.
The latest pronouncement come in the backdrop of corroding corruption with accusations against President Asif Ali Zardari (once known as Mr. 10 percent) and others, with Musharraf’s own image somewhat upright and the failure of the current civil administration to satisfactorily overcome the challenge of record floods in Pakistan which have devastated more than 20 million lives (The militants and terrorists will also benefit from the catastrophe.) The credible handling of the floods by Pak military, the only coherent organization, has once again focused attention on its role in keeping Pakistan together and united. Except that in early 1970s its excesses in Bengal with political schemer Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, led to the breakup of Pakistan and emergence of an independent Bangladesh. And of course the situations within Pakistan, with extremists outside Pak ISI control and in Afghanistan have created a dangerous and unmanageable strategic environment in the region.
Musharraf’s acts in London are being taken note of seriously because the current chain smoking Pakistan military chief Gen Asfaq Parvez Kayani, is an old loyal subordinate, personally selected by Musharraf for the job, when forced to relinquish, after a tumultuous rule, one of the longest and in this writers opinion a much better one than under that Mullah in uniform Gen. Zia ul Haq and even the self-promoted Field Marshall Ayub Khan, who with Washington’s encouragement had laid the foundations of the military’s arbitrary and arbitrator’s role in direct or proxy rule in Pakistan and a long symbiotic relationship with the Pentagon, which now like in a marriage gone sour still exists.
The rumors of a coup by Musharraf were strengthened as Gen Kayani himself expressed his displeasure at the ways of the civil leadership after meetings with President Zardari and PM Gilani. Gen Kayani would perhaps feel much more at ease with Musharraf‘s helping hand around in some key position. In any case since Musharraf has been entangled in many legal cases in Pakistan courts, his return is difficult unless supported by the military, since the judiciary, the legal fraternity and many other groups are his implacable opponents and hate his guts.
Musharraf had consolidated his position internally before his ‘peacemaking’ visit to Agra, having rid of some of the extremist military comrades and promoting himself from the post of Chief Executive to the Presidency. But the 11 September 2001 attacks on the symbols of US economic and military power by Muslim terrorists brought about a paradigm change in the world and Pakistan and transformation in Musharraf Presidency. It force-changed Pakistan's policies making Islamabad the forefront of President George Bush's "war on terror", when Islamabad policy and actions still remain part of the problem. But then the US objective is to stay put in Afghanistan (Washington is building a new military base in Mazare-Sharif near the Uzbekistan border, as a strategic threat to Russia, China and others)
Forced to join Washington in its war on terror in end 2001 enraged the extremists and terrorists close to the Taliban and Al Qaeda, leading to three serious attempts on Musharraf’s life since then. In July 2007, he had to order his security forces to storm the Red Mosque with its adjacent Islamic school in Islamabad, resulting in the deaths of more than 100 people. Clerics and students of the mosque were waging an increasingly aggressive campaign to enforce strict Sharia law in Pakistan's capital itself. Earlier clashes between soldiers and Islamic militants in the country's northern tribal regions got escalated with suicide bombings – not that common until then in Pakistan – becoming more commonplace.
President Musharraf challenged and was challenged by others too. His suspension of Chief Justice, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, in March 2007 boomeranged badly and triggered huge protests across the length of the country against his flouting of the rule of law. He was forced to back down and reinstate Chaudhry in July 2007. His oft-stated demand to head of the army while remaining the president was then challenged in the courts. His re-election for a new term by the four provincial assemblies and both houses of parliament in October, was not validated by the Supreme Court. Faced with all around opposition, Musharraf’s lawyers agreed that he would stand down as army chief once he was re-elected.
President Musharraf was finally forced to leave power in August 2008 after nearly 9 years, when faced with the indignity of being impeached by the parliament. Hounded by his enemies in the political groups, the judiciary and civil society, he first went on a pilgrimage to Mecca, then lectured around the Middle East, Europe and the US, and finally holed down in Britain, which has a big Pakistani Mohajir population.
Beginning with weak grassroots civil society at the time of independence, Pak polity remains very fragile in facing up to military’s pressure and power. The ruling elite still consists of military officers, civil servants, old landlords families and clans and industrialists related to and feeding on each other. So a visit a few years ago by an Indian grassroots politician Bihar Chief Minister Laloo Yadav, son of a poor office chaprasi i.e. messenger, something unlikely to happen in Pakistan any time soon elicited much curiosity, attention, surprise and admiration among the common ruled people of Pakistan.
The major political formations which had suffered during Musharraf’ rule oppose and pooh-pooh his projected return. President Zardari (husband of late PM Benazir Bhutto spent long periods in prison) said that Musharraf has no room for his political ventures in Pakistan, and he will remain in exile till he is alive. “As long as we are in the president house, we will continue to avenge the deaths of our martyrs in the farm of democracy, which is the best revenge”, added Zardari. Not very excited with the prospect of Musharraf ‘s return, the influential Pakistani daily "Dawn" expressed its doubts in a recent editorial and warned him to be prepared to face possible judicial charges.
Another major leader opposed to Musharraf’s return, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said sarcastically that he was welcome to Pakistan, so that the masses, annoyed with his policies, may extend him his due reception in a worthwhile way. Shahbaz, brother of former PM Nawaz Sharif, who was over thrown and exiled by Musharraf said that the dictator who now vowed to shift the country from darkness to light, did not generate even a unit of electricity in his reign of nine years. Let Musharraf return to see what he had left behind ;inflation, load-shedding, lawlessness, terrorism and dearth. These are his gifts to the nation and now he apologized for the NRO only, rather than for other blunders. Shahbaz recalled how Musharraf had tried to subdue the most respected institutions of the country like judiciary with a Martial Law like action. The dictator now pledges to bring an end to family politics and nepotism, but the persons with whom he is developing political contacts, are in politics since posterity.
It was Washington led West, Saudi Arabia and other Muslim states, Pakistan and others, even China in the Jihad against Soviet Union in Afghanistan during 1980s who financed, trained and created the monster of terrorism in the region. India has become an unwitting victim of the collateral damage and Indians do not even protest to Washington, which still provides billions of dollars to Islamabad which follows anti-Indian policies and allowed 2611 rape of Mumbai, which with US double agent George Headley as a key planner Washington knew. But pensioners of Washington Consensus outfits are key decision makers in New Delhi. India’s strategic policy tethered to Washington has annoyed Tehran, irritated Beijing and Delhi has drifted away from Moscow, unlikely to be an opponent. In nutshell it is a disaster which will become worse when the product of Chicago Jewish machine and a puppet of US banksters, who funded his $500 million election chest comes a visiting India. It is now clear that Washington wants India to make defense and other purchases, with strings attached which will adversely affect India’s freedom and interests.
Rise and fall of Gen Musharraf and his 2008 exile
The author, having spent 10 years in Turkey, in two tenures as diplomat (1969-73 as number 2 and 1992 -96 as Ambassador) and then two years as a freelance journalist in Ankara, before shifting to Bucharest, has studied the role of military in politics in Turkey and Pakistan.
After retirement in 1996 , the author had lectured on and written many articles on the role of military in politics and a comparative study of Turkey and Pakistan.
In this piece we shall not look at the declining role of Turkey’s secular military and judiciary, being enforced by Islamist AK party led by its hot headed PM Erdogan with many billions of dollars of yesil surmaye aka green money provided by Saudi Arabia, where Turkish President Abdullah Gul had worked in its Islamic bank for 7 years before returning and joining politics. The current faceoff between the secular establishment and the Islamists is not a healthy development and reminds me of Turkey’s politics in 1950s under an equally brash Adnan Menderes, who had tried to throttle the role of the military. It was the Turkish armed forces which at the end of WWI battled to save the present day Turkey from Europe’s evil designs to further break it up and succeeded in founding a secular republic under the leadership of Kemal Ataturk. They are vital stakeholders in the secular republic.
There is little possibility of Turkey joining the Europe Union after 119 and the negotiations are being exploited by AKP to dilute the military’s role in the polity and humiliate it . This is a dangerous development in Turkey’s progress towards democracy. Just look at how religion based policies and Mullahs (financed and supported by Riyadh) are destroying Pakistan, with delusions of Taliban style fanatic emirates and caliphates in 21 century. Also remember the 1992 elections in Algiers and freezing of the electoral process to thwart the takeover by Islamists, who after almost came into power by ballot but declared the democratic system would be abandoned.
While stationed in Bucharest, the authors interest was re-ignited in Pak military’s reaction in 1998, when an impetuous and arrogant Nawaz Sharif humiliated the powerful military by first forcing the military chief Gen Jehangir Karamat resign on a silly pretext. Next year in an even more foolhardy action Sharif tried to replace the new military chief Parvez Musharraf, a Mohajir, whom he had appointed to replace Karamat believing that with little support from majority Punjabi and Pathan military brass, he would dare not carry out a coup. While Musharraf was away in Colombo in October, 1999, Nawaz dismissed him and appointed a loyal general in his place. He ordered Musharraf’s arrest if he returned to Pakistan. Instead the armed forces arrested Nawaz Sharif and thus began Musharraf era in Pakistan, which is unlikely really to end any time soon.
See my very first article "New Pakistani Ruler and Turkish Political Mode" penned from Berlin in 1999, when Musharraf took over as the Chief Executive (verily the country of Pakistan is military property). He appeared quite unsure and not that media savvy then as he is now, with halting command over Urdu but fluent in Turkish, which he had learnt because he had spent four impressionable school years as a child in early 1950s in Ankara where he father was posted as a junior diplomat.