It is rare for politicians to own up to mistakes. When they choose to do so, this is something to welcome. The admission by Pervez Musharraf that he had made major mistakes during his nine-year tenure as president, notably in the case of the NRO, amounts in many ways to an act of courage worthy of a former commando. In our political culture few politicians admit to errors. Of course, this isn’t the only error that he committed and it could be argued that his perhaps gravest mistake – or rather crime – was to overthrow an elected government and for which he should be prosecuted in a court of law.
The setting up of a new political party is less unusual. There are after all an extraordinary number of parties, and factions of parties, on the scene, distinguished from each other by the initial attached at the end of their names. The All Pakistan Muslim League, launched in London by Musharraf, adds to the number. The former president has said all the right things, stating he wishes to use the new entity as a means to serve the people of his nation and to tackle poverty, corruption and other issues. We cannot as yet predict what the future of this party will be. Others also set up with what seemed like excellent intentions behind them quickly faded away into the background, managing at best to pick up a single seat, or maybe a few more, when it came to that crucial test of the polls. Musharraf in fact enters the political arena at a disadvantage. As head of state, from 1999 to 2008, he left behind problems that today present a huge threat to our nation. Despite claims to battle militancy, terrorism grew rapidly. The energy crisis that is now a constant part of our live worsened and mainstream parties were pushed into the background and attempts made to intervene in their working. This undoubtedly weakened our democracy.
Musharraf also does not quite say how he intends to solve problems. His tendency to fall back on the bombastic arrogance for which he became known for during his tenure is also still present, as has been apparent in some interviews. But only time will tell what the Pakistani electorate will think of his words and whether they forgive him for his past actions, were he to participate in the next election.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 3rd, 2010.