ISLAMABAD: The widely predicted humiliation and disgrace that former president Gen (R) Pervez Musharraf is suffering has little or no prospects of producing political dividends for him.
He flew back into Pakistan, cherishing a high profile political role. Not only his dream stands shattered, but he has entangled himself in a trap, apparently having no safe exit door.Even ordinary people knew he has no chances to tide over his disqualifications to contest the May 11 general elections. But still he took the plunge to prove his credentials of being a former army commando.
Much more grave consequences are in store for him as he stays put in Pakistan. He has to be here as he can’t leave Pakistan for his name having been placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) on the court orders.
Not only discerning people forewarned Musharraf not to come to Pakistan as the time is not opportune for him but he was also communicated a similar message from the top level of his former institution, which he always feels will come to his rescue, and premier intelligence agencies.
His comprehensive expected dragging in courts may not be demeaning for him, but it is of course belittling the offices of the president and chief of army staff (COAS), which he held for years. No president or COAS has faced such humiliation. His sheepish feelings and sentiments are writ large on his face as he has been escorted from one place to another.
History is witness that every army chief has been treated as a sacred cow after his retirement only because of the dominant role the Pakistan Army has in Pakistan’s milieu, and nobody ever dared to touch him. When recently there was a lot of hullabaloo in the wake of the Supreme Court judgment on Asghar Khan’s petition, a military statement nailed the campaign for the reason that the debate was unnecessarily throwing muck on the premier national institution. Let bygones be bygones was the message that it conveyed to all and sundry, and silence ensued from every quarter.
But Musharraf’s inane political ambitions are going to demolish strict adherence of the unwritten law that the army chiefs should not be touched after their superannuation. However, despite being in deep waters, he is being treated in a different way mainly because of the grave security threat to him otherwise he would have been lodged in an ordinary police station.
Politicians mostly love to go to jails as they feel imprisonment embellishes their career. In Musharraf’s case, his confinement and subsequent likely conviction is not expected to bring laurels to his politics. He doesn’t understand that there are no takers of his philosophic talk and achievements, and chances of a groundswell of political support for him are nowhere in sight.
Although the Pakistan Army is apparently staying away from the unseemly fracas despite providing Musharraf a foolproof security to save him from becoming victim to terrorists, he has created many difficulties for this premier institution. If Lt Gen (R) Chishti, who was one of the architects of the 1977 martial law of General Ziaul Haq, is to be believed, the military will come to Musharraf’s rescue.
His return has unnecessarily put tremendous strains on the army, security apparatus and public exchequer. It has spawned a needless paralysis and chaotic situation. Millions of rupees are going down the drain on guarding him at the places he stays or when his movement is necessitated, mostly for appearance in different courts. This wastage will continue till the time he is in Pakistan. He doesn’t understand that he is a liability for everyone now and everyone wants to stay away from him.
The best course for him was to stay abroad to live a comfortable life, but he chose to return against every sane advice and heavy odds. It is yet unclear what drove him to come back when even naïve persons knew he has no political future or relevance in Pakistan.
It was pathetic to hear Musharraf saying in a TV interview two days back that he has now realized that the threat to him is more alarming than he thought it was before returning to Pakistan.
One view is that it is good that what is happening to Musharraf for his own illegal and unconstitutional actions is happening during the period of the caretaker government otherwise speculation that marital law was about to be imposed would have hit every nook and corner of the country had a full-fledged civilian government been in place.
Whatever the weak interim government or the Islamabad police and administration could do to save Musharraf from being arrested or jailed, they did it, and it is only the Islamabad High Court (IHC), which took note of their negligence and they stood up to act against him as per the law.
It is sickening to hear some Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leaders saying that Musharraf should have been quickly arrested when the IHC refused extension of his interim bail. What their government did for five years against him and several others indicted by superior courts is no secret.
However, it is not helpful for Musharraf but it is satisfying for him that his number one foe, Nawaz Sharif whose government he dismissed in October 1999, is by and large quiet, and is no more hitting him hard, believably thanks to courtesy of foreign influence. Since Musharraf’s return, Nawaz Sharif has confined his criticism on him to just a couple remarks.
“If any common man would have done what Musharraf did, then he would’ve surely been behind bars right now. Why was he escorted home safely by Islamabad police? Because he was an army chief earlier? This is clearly contempt of court on police’s behalf. The judiciary should take action against authorities who allowed him to escape from court premises. The whole world is looking at us and we need to prove to them that we are law abiding citizens,” he said on Friday.
Even otherwise he doesn’t to do much because the former president is elaborately enmeshed in grave court cases and it is improbable he would come out unscathed.