The return of Musharraf
Pakistanis are once again ready to welcome as saviour the person whom they sent into exile. Is this hopeless optimism?
General (retd) Pervez Musharraf is all set to return to Pakistan by March 24.
Listening to the numerous interviews being broadcast on Pakistani channels, one gets the impression that he fervently believes he will don his shining armour, mount his white steed and ride into the country to save it.
However, does he ever once pause in his righteous declarations to ask the question: does Pakistan want him back?
When Musharraf left Pakistan, it was considered a win for the democratic forces in the country, a country stunned and reeling from his draconian measures. The NRO and the suspension of the chief justice of the Supreme Court contributed to events that led to his hurried departure before possible impeachment proceedings.
In his wake, he left behind a deeply divided and heavily armed people.
The government that followed further weakened the country and now the people of Pakistan are, once again, ready to welcome as saviour the person whom they sent into exile.
Is this hopeless optimism or is it surrendering to what may be considered the lesser evil?
Let’s ignore the adage that those who do not learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them. Let us put the NRO, Lal Masjid and the assassination of Nawab Akbar Bugti aside and look at what Musharraf is promising now.
He promises to return to Pakistan within a week after the interim government takes charge and participate in the upcoming elections. He promises that given a team of citizens selected by him, he has the capability to put Pakistan on the path of progress within the year.
When asked about his support in Pakistan, he invariably quotes the figures from his Facebook page. He does not name potential allies, individual or parties. Either he has no plans or is holding his cards close to his chest. But until the big revelation comes, it seems that his entire campaign is held together with spit and prayers.
With all this ambiguity, it is hard to put faith in a potential leader, especially someone who has been tried. However, a political span becomes relative in its success or failure when compared with worse situations.
Sadly, Pakistan is at such a crossroads.
Musharraf does have his positive points. He seems to be unafraid of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution, which will ascertain his eligibility to be elected. He claims that he knows how to lead from the front and cites his performance in the army as proof. That is irrefutable.
He says that he can bring Pakistan back on the path of prosperity, without showing any specific plans and expects the masses to follow him. I have to commend his optimism and faith.
However, I am cautiously optimistic.
He plans to give the people of Pakistan the option of a third party in the elections. He hopes that his return will give the APML the boost that it needs to play with the big boys. That, in itself, will be a positive development.
I hope and pray that even though he doesn’t admit it, he realises that he did make a few mistakes when he held power.
These mistakes should be key in formulating his new playbook. And even though we are used to giving everyone second chances — and sometimes third — for once, I hope that the one whom we chose as our saviour actually makes it his job to save Pakistan.
Read more by Zeba here or follow her on Twitter @zebansari