October 25, 2010

Why politicians jitter at the thought of Musharraf’s return

Pervez Musharraf is the former military ruler of Pakistan. He wasn’t a politician, he was a general. By his own admission in his autobiography, he wasn’t exactly a servile officer. But then, that’s the kind of character you want in a man who has to get down and do the dirty business of taking tough decisions. Day after day, I seem to be moving towards an increasingly pro Musharraf stance because he charms better than Nawaz Sharif, is more articulate when need be than Benazir Bhutto, and is utterly brutal and savage when time calls for it.

This is the reason why politicians have started shuddering at the thought of Musharraf coming back to Pakistan. Sure the people at the bottom of the social spectrum will hate him and will spit every time his name is mentioned because they have always been downtrodden and Musharraf did not help them just like all the other rulers. But the urban middle class, the major stakeholders in the country’s affairs were affected by his policies. This is the reason why Musharraf continues to draw support everyday across the whole spectrum of politically inclined sages from the Pakistan’s middle class.

He represents change, and perhaps is the only viable alternative available to the majority against the current ruling elite both at the center and at the provincial level. Pervez Musharraf does not hide behind a façade of fake morality or words. Just listen to how he has responded to Talal Bugti. I can bet for sure that had it been Zardari or Nawaz Sharif, they would’ve chickened out and let their henchmen do the talking and then made a deal with Bugti himself. But I suppose that is why they’re politicians.

I also read up on Musharraf’s party’s manifesto. His party’s manifesto, quite unlike other parties’ manifestos states the problems, and then states their solutions. There is no use of fancy, flashy words and there are no fake promises. Unlike the PPP, Musharraf’s party actually explains how they will get “Rotti, Kapra aur Makaan.”

But then, there are certain aspects of Musharraf’s behavior and past that simply cannot be ignored. He subverted the constitution when it suited him, and he let 42 people die in Karachi because of his ego. He made the judiciary a laughing stock and he paralyzed the media when it went against him. So how do you trust such a man to do the right thing? The answer is you don’t. Rather, you expect him to come up with brilliant points to counter your arguments. Musharraf does that with blinding ferocity, and pinpoint precision.

He is also a shrewd man and that is why he has been such a sensational hit with all the urban Pakistanis. His image comes across as cool, hip and modern whereas the the PML – N and the PPP come across as lethargic, corrupt and arrogant idiots. Choosing between the two sides in this political enigma is fairly easy. To quote an old man:
It’s not about the facts; it’s about what you can prove. It’s not about your personality; it’s about your image perception.
On those counts Musharraf fares admirably. So does this mean I drop my demand for him to be tried in court for treason? Well, no. But I do expect him to go inside the court, and rip it to pieces with his cool arguments and his awesome statements.

This is the reason why we need democracy to flourish, because it gives a person like Musharraf (who appears to genuinely care about the crises engulfing Pakistan) a fighting chance to make a difference. After all, we have been decrying that the 335,000 plus fan following he’s got on Facebook is hogwash. But if these 335,000 urban, educated, middle class, people go out to vote for Musharraf’s party in the elections, then these hogwash Facebook fans will have changed the course of Pakistan’s history.