Sympathy for the dictator: How Musharraf lost a fan

The former president has his share of supporters - but if he keeps up spouting wild statements he may lose them all.

Asad Baig January 07, 2011
Let’s face it. Media fraternities hate ex-President General Pervez Musharraf.

Yes, they do and for obvious reasons actually. Ironic really as General Musharraf did sow the magic beans of ‘free media’ that later grew to become a monstrous self-defeating beanstalk.

It shouldn’t come across as a revelation when I say that supporting General Sahab is considered somewhat taboo in the media community - it is pretty much like venturing on a cross-country road-trip in Vietnam holding an enormous American flag.

But me? Being a staunch enthusiast of his rule, I refused to let one crazy-speech and a bunch of my colleague’s prickly remarks affect my affection for General Sahab.

Mushy gets pushy!

Since his fan-fare filled launch in October the former president has made more than one faux pas. Starting with the infamous “aqal say farigh ul bal” attack Musharraf unremittingly made every brash quip possible which could group him in the ‘nutty old uncle’ category. But I stood firm, blaming mostly his poor choice of words and his rather stern ‘fauji attitude,’ I chose to observe only the truth present in his rather stumpy statements.

The faux pas then became serious blunders - publicly affirming that ISI was involved in supporting and training Kashmiri mujahdeen was a shocker. Even though General Sahab seemed to have forgotten the ‘Pakistan First’ rule, I refused to let it smash his rather dignified image.

But apparently the volley of his distasteful remarks had just started. General Sahab asserted that he was not to blame for the execution of Akbar Bugti and that the Frontier Corps (FC) carried out the operation. Admittedly, nurturing a private army with arms enough to take-over England, Bugti had it coming. But General Sahab should have had the valor to rise above the petty political inclinations and to acknowledge the consequences of his actions. Whatever happened to “We will hit in such a way they wouldn’t even know what hit them?” Not so tough without the stars, are we?

For me General Sahab’s image corroded a bit, but the nation has forgiven the politicians for so much more than a refuted statement, so for sure he deserved another chance!

Optimistically, I waited for him to demonstrate the political maturity and poise fitting for an ex chief of army staff. He blamed the PML-Q leaders for the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) and I still kept my cool. I hung around when General Sahab went and spilled the beans on an Indian national TV channel, saying that he should have stayed COAS for another five years. I waited when General Sahab most expediently ignored the summons issued by the court and got himself officially declared as ‘absconder.’

After all, as unfortunate as it all may seem, it’s indubitably not unheard of. Our ruling politicians have perhaps committed such transgressions and are deemed the saviors of democracy.

What ticked me off

The last straw was General Sahab’s most recent affirmation and I quote:
“Many parties want to be with us. But I want my party to get a simple majority in the next elections so that we do not have to rely on others.”

Musharraf desires to rule with a simple majority in a country where half of the populace holds him responsible for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the other half traces back the roots of terrorism and suicide bombings to the Laal Masjid fiasco?

Where one of the few highly influential tribal leaders has offered a billion in cash for his head? He’s essentially planning to rule a country with a simple majority where he’s officially been declared as an absconder? The country he said “good bye and good luck’ to on the national television?

General Sahab, I vastly doubt that votes will get you anywhere. I offer my most heartfelt and utterly sincere sympathies. May God Almighty grant your loved ones the audacity and courage to endure and withstand these toughest of times with you.
Asad Baig A freelance journalist based in Islamabad. He has worked at various news channels and follows Pakistani politics closely.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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