An overdose of Musharraf-ism

The online support that Musharraf has generated is a sign of the inherent weakness of personality based politics. In reality, he is only worth one seat in parliament.

Nadir Eledroos October 11, 2010
Musharraf’s return to politics has generated a range of emotions that are on obvious display judging from the comments on two recent articles. Judging from some of the emails I have received one would hope that supporters of the APML would rise above the bullying tactics of the PPP/PML-N/MQM that Musharraf has himself declared his intention to do.

Whether the 50 points are better than the 20 or vice versa is a never ending debate. As politics is all about aligning oneself to one party’s or individuals ideas and at times staunchly supporting it. An advantage of multiparty politics perhaps?

However, the wave of online support that Musharraf has generated is also a sign of the inherent weakness of personality based politics. Given that the next elections are scheduled for 2013 the party cannot survive and expand based solely on one individual.

My pessimism is based on the simple argument that regardless of how much support Musharraf has, he is only worth one seat in parliament. I have no doubt that on his return he will likely receive a massive wave of support, and that he could win a resounding victory over any opponent. However, to be able to form a government and implement his manifesto he would need another 180 off seats, or at least 80-100 seats to form a viable coalition.

Where are these viable candidates going to come from who would be electable in various constituencies across the country?

Pakistan’s problems are structural, and regardless of whether the person sitting in the Presidency, the Prime Minister’s Office or Army House, the problems we face today are not going to improve just by rotating portraits.

Even if Musharraf was to return today and take over government, would that magically bring an end to terrorism? Probably not!

Our economic policies are dictated by the IMF, World Bank and the Asian Development Bank as we remain dependent on foreign assistance. Regardless of who is in office neither are these policies or our dependence on foreign assistance is not going to change.

We don’t live on an island. What happens globally impacts us directly. We may be complaining about inflation but no Pakistani government can control the global price of oil and food items which has released a wave of cost-push inflation. The days of consumer led growth is over. With inflation rising once again, interest rates have gone up. Cheap cars and consumer goods are no longer available on the production of two copies of your NIC.

Pakistan’s annual debt servicing is touching close to Rs. 700 Billion. It’s the elephant in the room that no one talks about. How will changing personalities bring about short term improvements in the cost of debt servicing?

We have one of the lowest tax-to-GDP ratios in the world. No government, military or civil has ever gone after our nation’s elite (of which they are a part) to make them pay their taxes. Remember how the Musharraf government backed down from its economics survey when it first came to power?

I am not saying that these problems are not insurmountable. However, I would like some answers as to how a populist Musharraf government would tackle these problems.  “Pakistan First” is good bravado, but it doesn’t pay the bills.

As for Musharraf himself, it’s his constitutional right to stand for elections, though it’s also the constitutional right of his critics who have filed cases against him to have their day in court.

At present I wouldn’t vote for him. Rather than arguing over who did what and when, and whose the bigger thief and exploiter, we should be discussing policies. The APML’s manifesto lists out some very noble goals, perhaps those who support the APML would offer to elaborate how those goals will be achieved? How the APML attends to increase its membership and penetration into the rural heartland where the majority of the electorate lies?

It’s time for Musharraf and his supporters to win over their critics via sound arguments, rather than displaying the emotive bullying that is the hallmark of other political parties across the country. If not then I am afraid that they have already begun straying away from the manifesto of the party that they so passionately support.
Nadir Eledroos Nadir teaches Economics at Bellerbys College, London and is interested in Pakistani politics and current affairs. He tweets @needroos (
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


muneeba | 13 years ago | Reply @PAKISTAN (ironic nick,i tell u) there's an enormous difference in some girl being raped by a nobody,and a baloch lady doctor (u shud know how rare thats the case for an area as remote as dera bugti and its vicinity) being raped by a pakistani "army officer".... we do witness a long unfair history of army offensives in baluchistan,unlike any other province, throughout the history,which rightly sends a very villainous msg against the baluch ppl....and thats the image the country needs to clear off by making extra effort....instead,the protectors of ur country's honour become the rapists of a baluchi lady doctor to add fuel to the already severe fire burning in the hearts and minds of the long alienated,deprived and oppressed baluchi ppl does NOT justify ur argument instead it compels any and every human being to denounce it in strongest of terms and revolt against such atrocities...and thats a perfectly natural reciprocatory behavior... plz do ur homework befor telling me to do some research....cuz if u do not remember,the mullahs had surrendered after talks with ch.shujaat and his group consisting tariq azeem and sumera malik...and thats why shujaat expressed surprise over mush still wanting a military operation after the mullahs declared to surrender...and to update ur information,maulana abdul hafiz's,if im not mistaken,(cuz i do very well remember his dead face with the widest of smiles i hv ever seen in my entire life but not exactly his name) last words were that "now that we hv surrendered,there is no apparent cause for conducting the operation on the mosque with thousands of women and children inside only other than the president's whims" and it was broadcasted on all the media,electronic and pint....but shameeeee...that american boot-liker,demented a* ** had made up his mind to look important to the US at the time of extreme unpopularity in the country after sacking the judges.. and to add to ur knowledg also, it was never nawab bugtiz job to educate was the governments'....and he openly many a times invited them to provide gas(produced in their own province),build roads,schools and hospitals but the federation always insisted on building a cantonment first.........a province that had already suffered from several military operations unlike any of the other three can not be blamed for declining to a generous offer like this i reiterate,plz do ur research b4 telling others to
Mariam Sabri | 13 years ago | Reply Thank you for bringing up an important point people overlook so easily. I'm so tired of hearing people go on and on about how Musharraf is worthy of becoming President again because of his 'patriotism' and charisma. Not to say that political personality cults, are by any means, limited to Pakistan.
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