Holbrooke dismisses chances of Musharraf comeback

Published: November 18, 2010
Former President Pervez Musharraf launched his political party on October 1, 2010. PHOTO: AFP

Former President Pervez Musharraf launched his political party on October 1, 2010. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has very little chance of regaining power in 2013 elections and any return to military rule would be a disaster, a senior US official said on Wednesday.

“He has about as much chance of coming back to power as (former Soviet) President (Mikhail) Gorbachev,” Richard Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told a gathering of US diplomats and security experts.

Musharraf, who came to power in 1999 in a bloodless military coup, announced last month in London he had created a new party, the All Pakistan Muslim League, with an eye to competing in the 2013 polls.

Musharraf, who has lived in self-imposed exile since he stepped down under threat of impeachment in 2008, has said he believes he has “an even chance” of regaining power.

Holbrooke said Musharraf’s comments should be taken with “considerable skepticism” and that the former Pakistani ruler was responsible in large part for the current struggle against militancy in the region.

“Had he fulfilled his promises to President Bush to restore democracy, close down the extreme madrassas and do the right thing in the tribal areas, we wouldn’t be in the situation we are today. He didn’t keep his word,” Holbrooke said.

Musharraf has apologized for “wrong decisions” made as president. And while he has stopped short of calling for another military takeover, he has indicated he understood why some Pakistanis considered it an option.

Holbrooke said any return to military rule would be a disaster for Pakistan, where the United States is seeking to buttress a weak civilian government that is crucial to its war against Taliban extremists in neighboring Afghanistan.

“Let us not be nostalgic for military rule… It would be a very big setback. You would have massive disruptions in the political system when stability is what you need,” he said.

“Musharraf comes back and wins a democratic election? Fine. But as I indicated earlier, the chances of that are very slim.”

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Reader Comments (28)

  • Nov 18, 2010 - 11:58AM

    This must be god send for Musharraf and his supporters. Nothing like an American diplomat to rubbish his chances of return – it will only make him a martyr – brace yourself for a huge comeback by Musharraf.

    And since when did Holbrook become a clairvoyant to predict the outcome of elections if Musharraf participates? Recommend

  • Pakistan One
    Nov 18, 2010 - 12:03PM

    Why you moreons need a statement from US administration that he is unable to return? Is your common sense not working? He can never return as a president as he has already served 2 terms as president. One he completed (by hook or crook) second he resigned from (read runaway from) so as per the constitution of Pakistan article 44 sub section 2 “Subject to the Constitution, a person holding office as President shall be eligible for re-election to that office, but no person shall hold that office for more than two consecutive terms”

    As for prime minister he first has to secure enough votes to win a election in any constituency and then come to the Parliment where the prime minister is elected, which I dont see it happening in the next 10 years. If somebody wants a reality check take a look at Sheikh Rasheed, he is the only member of the Parliment (both at federal and any provincial level) who won 6 elections back to back but now he twice got rejected from the very people who elected him earlier.

    For US the asset is now a liablity, for us he was always a liability. Those who support him (1) live in fool’s paradise (2) lack vision (3) are just too busy focusing on one (useless) individual. My advise to them is to wake up, sense the reality and get a life.

    Musharraf is past and even he knows it.Recommend

  • Amer
    Nov 18, 2010 - 12:13PM

    How Pathetic! Mush was a pet for them for so many years and now they don’t even want to own him. Recommend

  • Q
    Nov 18, 2010 - 12:21PM

    Mr. Holbrooke is someone who favors democracy while continues to support Kindgoms in the Middle East. Yet he has no credibility with his double standards.

    Mr. Holbrooke thanks but no thanks. Please keep your views to yourself. We do what is best for our country and understand the situation better than you. Do not teach us.Recommend

  • Danish
    Nov 18, 2010 - 12:53PM

    The viceroy has spoken and well if he doesn’t want than people of Pakistan will not elect musharraf in future because he broke American Promises. We should live under a corrupt democratic government which serves American interests.Recommend

  • Maz
    Nov 18, 2010 - 12:53PM

    ahhahaa halbroke sahib mind ur own businesss,u guys never want what is best for pakistanRecommend

  • parvez
    Nov 18, 2010 - 2:24PM

    The Oracle has spoken.Recommend

  • A Suhail
    Nov 18, 2010 - 2:48PM

    Exactly my feelings. Mush should stay in exile and enjoy his hard earned loot. I will like to see this guy prosecuted but thats never going to happen as no army walah ever gets dragged to courts. Recommend

  • Syed A. Mateen
    Nov 18, 2010 - 3:32PM

    Richard Holbrooke is talking sense. I have mentioned time and again in my various write-ups that General (R) Musharraf will not return to Pakistan before the year 2013.

    General (R) Musharraf became the leader of Pakistan after the military coup and before that people only knows him as Chief of Army Staff.

    People witnessed economic stability during the period when prolonged martial law was imposed in Pakistan or a military dictator came without imposing martial law and then imposed emergency or martial law to extend the tenure of his rule.

    Whether it is a military rule in the country or a civilian dictatorship, none suited the needs of a common man.

    There may be few hundred or thousands people from the entire nation who want that General (R) Musharraf should take over the charge as President again but this is quite illogical and difficult to digest.

    Comparing between the military and civilian rulers, there was a repetition of civilian governments e.g. government of PPP and PML(N) but during the political history of Pakistan, I have never seen that a military dictator has ever came back to rule the country.

    General Ayub Khan ruled the country for more than a decade, so General Zia-ul-Haq, but General (R) Musharraf could not go back in the past to return the glory and peace of Pakistan.

    If General (R) Musharraf regret on his past mistakes this does not mean that he has learned the lesson and will not commit any more mistakes in future.

    I do not foresee that Genral (R) Musharraf will assume the power in future and the two APML’s is nothing more than a futile effort.

    Similarly, this is the last leg of PPP’s rule in the country. Once PPP has gone, it cannot come back again. People say that the worst democracy is better than an army rule, but I say that the best democracy will only come when Pakistan will have a National Government.

    Dictatorship in any shape whether military or democratic is not good for the country, as there is no accountability either of military or political leadership. Whatever the actions taken by military or political leadership they were not taken keeping in mind the interest of a common man who is standing today below the poverty line.

    . Recommend

  • Sani Raza
    Nov 18, 2010 - 4:01PM

    Why would a military rule be disastrous for Pakistan, What has democracy given to Pakistan. The Gen Musharaf military dictator gave to Pakistan the real essence of democracy in the form of local governments which the so called democratic government has taken away. Western countries call for democracy in countries like Pakistan which has corrupt politicians because they can be easily bought and manipulated. Pakistanis do not want democracy for the sake of it,we want justice,safety,economic and social prosperity,strong defence , if the military dictator can provide these things the nation will not only welcome him but salute him.
    We Pakistanis dont require advice or opinions from people like Richard Holbrooke or other Tom,Dicks and Harrys. Recommend

  • Someone
    Nov 18, 2010 - 4:39PM

    And who the hell is Richard Hoolbrooke to tell who should lead our country? American interference is really starting to get annoyingRecommend

  • Noor
    Nov 18, 2010 - 6:22PM

    Thank you Amreeka bahadur. We definitely could not have understood this without your wisdom

  • Pakistan One
    Nov 18, 2010 - 6:54PM

    @ those who are getting annoyed with American intereference

    They are your masters, they call the shots, you obey. Point blank simple? isn’t it!Recommend

  • Aamir Ali
    Nov 18, 2010 - 7:19PM

    These statements are meant to make Pakistan’s civilian leaders happy and boost Holbrooke’s relations with them. Recommend

  • Maulana Halwa
    Nov 18, 2010 - 7:22PM

    Sounds like RH is the real King Maker in Pakistan politics. Which he may well be. Making it clear that the show cannot run without the approval of their selection Board. It is really up to the Voters to make that statement not some foreign Govt Rep.
    All the help and Aid does come with strings attached.Recommend

  • Zahid
    Nov 18, 2010 - 7:27PM

    Halbrook statement has come at a very critical time. American’s strategy on war on terror has failed miserably and now they need some scapegoat to throw whole blame on. They should have accepted suggestions put forward by Musharraf back in 2002 had they wanted to succeed. Now when USA has failed, they want to negotiate with taliban.
    Musharraf is strong and bold leader who is telling world the blunders that have been committed by USA during this war. They just want to discredit himRecommend

  • Anonymous
    Nov 18, 2010 - 9:51PM

    This clearly proves one thing; Musharraf never accepted US dictation like present rulers do.Recommend

  • Ben
    Nov 18, 2010 - 11:52PM

    Holbrook’s outburst clearly shows one point; Musharraf never accepted american dictation like the current regime is doing. It also proves their frustration because they find it really tough to deal with Pakistan Army.Recommend

  • Arijit Sharma
    Nov 19, 2010 - 12:04AM

    USA is creating the ground work for the return of Musharraf as PM whether you like it or not. At the top of Musharraf’s agenda after becoming PM will be the settlement of the Kashmir issue along the following lines: ( as was the original plan )

    India and Pakistan to jointly announce that implementation of UNSC resolution is un-implementable because of ground realities. ( Win for Pakistan, as by this statement India would indirectly acknowledge a dispute. In India, statement will be interpreted as a fact, no loss of face. )

    Converting the L.O.C to an International border and a relaxed visa regime for residents of Kashmir ( Indian Kashmir Valley / so-called “AJK” ). All intra-Kashmir travel MUST be made over land. Additional visas will be required for travel to other areas.

    Kashmiris who moved from India to Pakistan before 1989 will NOT have right of return or settlement. Kashmiris who would like to migrate to Pakistan will be allowed to do so at anytime, with no right of return or settlement. ( All separatists will be encouraged to move to Pakistani Kashmir )

    Both countries will issue student visas – India to issue student visas for students from Kashmir under Pakistan control, Pakistan to reciprocate. Although the number of visas issues will depend on actual demand for visas and acceptance from educational institutions.

    Parties to stop using the following terminology: “Indian Occupied Kashmir or Makbooza Kashmir” or “Pakistan Occupied Kashmir”. India to keep using “Jammu and Kashmir” name. Pakistan to keep using “AJK” and “GB/Northern Areas”.

    Pakistan to stop making statements on India’s internal matters – including statements on military and para-military forces.

    Both India and Pakistan to jointly approach UN for removal of Kashmir dispute from list.

    Indus Water Treaty to remain in force. Pakistani technicians to install telemetry equipment on dams in India etc to ensure adherence to IWT – contingent on Pakistan dismantling all terror infrastructure.

    Most of these facts are probably well know, got them from a journalist who was very close to the original negotiations.Recommend

  • Nov 19, 2010 - 9:32AM

    The return of Musharraf is like groping in the dark and firing blindly.

    He says that he has learnt from the past mistakes he made but the fact remains, like daylight, that after 2002 elections it were the Choudhary brothers who toyed around with him and did not allow resolutions to go through in their original form. Anyway they are no longer associated with him but who knows what the rustic and banal PML Q leaders will do next. Does Holbrooke? No more PMLs, PPPs and the like, only an Islamic Government.

    If Holbrooke thinks he can continue to play around wholesomely as in the past he’s biting his tongue badly. The day of martyrs in Pakistan is over. The citizens know the civilian leaders’ mettle and are cognizant of the decayed ingredients that go to make-up our political flim flams (leaders).

    It will be better for the Americans to continue monkeying around with India as the lame-duck Obama has just done.

    Salams and best wishes to all Musharraf lovers.Recommend

  • Nov 19, 2010 - 9:58AM

    Americans have a habit of throwing away used handkerchiefs. ‘na inki dosti achhi na inki dushmani achhi’Recommend

  • Malik Tabeer
    Nov 19, 2010 - 2:25PM

    he is nobody we are optimistic and hopeful and Inshallah Musharraf will back prove every one wrong who getting so much panic and jealous Recommend

  • MI
    Nov 19, 2010 - 3:25PM

    Musharraf will comeback for sure. He is the only hope. He has the courage to defend Pakistan against mighties. Pakistan First. Recommend

  • zafer
    Nov 19, 2010 - 7:03PM

    Holbrooke also knows that Obama is a one term president :)Recommend

  • Klues
    Nov 19, 2010 - 7:22PM

    I find MI comment hilarious. Person backed by dubious organization is going to defend against dubious organization. It would be simple to have Holbrooke installed as President to save us the Facebook coup.Recommend

  • sana
    Nov 19, 2010 - 8:28PM

    Politics is the art of possibilities… if Zardari can be a president… if arch rivals PPP and PMLN can run the election campaign hand in hand.. then why Mush cannot be a ruler again? Recommend

  • imran
    Nov 19, 2010 - 10:53PM

    Musharraf doesn’t deserve to lead Pakistan again. He has already damaged this country enough,through his joining War on Terror ( to boost his own credibility with the West) and the much despised NRO.Recommend

  • Bilal Ahmed
    Dec 14, 2010 - 11:25AM

    RH has atleast made one thing clear i.e. Musharaf was not follwing american line of direction as visciously as our current leaders.Recommend

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