General Musharraf has formed his own party and plans to return home soon.He intends to contest elections and hopes to win as well.His announcement has been received variously ,depending on the political or social spectrum one belongs to.Baloch nationalists would want to eliminate him physically,others would want to try him in the court of law.P.M.Gilani has said that the Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudary would like to "welcome" him.Nawaz Sharif would at least like to send him back in the same manner,the former was treated.After 18th amendment,the prosecution under article six may be likely. In fact he may be tried for heinous crimes under an international war tribunal,as have been the case of other cruel dictators as, Yugoslavian and Vietnamese leaders etc..There are enough cases like Lal Masjid and Akbar Bugti case.The tradition of inviting international legal system in domestic issues has already been set in Pakistan.On the other hand , there would not be an indispensable need to return to Pakistan to take part in politics and head the party,in these days of electronic media and nearby Dubai with its new found open door policy of allowing political meetings on its land.Mr.Altaf Hussain is leading his party comfortably from London.In the past Shaheed Benazir and Nawaz Sharif have been doing the same.One only needs to arrive as a victor and not as vanquished,for the latter is treated very badly in Pakistan.
However,victory does not seem to be to0 close and the General Musharraf is already 67 , by newspaper accounts as made available by the official system , although the practice of understating ones age among the government service hopefuls is not totally unknown. A friend and Colleague of mine,once a senior bureaucrat,retired several years earlier than his elder brother,who retired as an ambassador .In the later years,the role of Nawabzada Nasrullah may be possible,if in the intervening time Musharraf does some good things.Immediately he may be able to achieve the following;
1)To provide leadership and patronage to a faction of PML-Q ,who are Siyasi Yateem these days,and whose opponent Chaudaries have problems with Musharraf.After all Chaudaries have a political history and perhaps future as well and they consider Musharraf as a spent cartridge, a disdain with which Musharraf himself used to reject his opposing colleagues.
2)He may further dilute the prospects of unification of the Muslim League factions,by adding his own faction.
3)He may embolden and revive Nawaz Sharif's claim to political leadership in the environment f polarization which Musharraf's reentry may create.
4)And not to talk of the joke he would be making of Pakistan and its politics and democracy;breaking the constitution a number of times, conducting himself in a totally dictatorial fashion and style,and in the end freely playing in the political field with impunity- an unfortunate message to the future military coup d'tat leaders-nothing would ever touch them and that they would be in merry-making always.
Why should Musharraf be trying to do what he has already done,having ruled for 11 long yaers,more than what a legitimately elected political leader would expect to achieve in his political life.Both Nawaz Sharif and Benazir got two years each of stints in power only twice and that even intermittently.His beloved Pakistan is still in trouble,despite his eleven years of political engineering and economic policies.Assuming that his claims of economic progress are correct to some extent,would we need to have him alone to repeat it.what happens when he dies?We need,it has been proved by the long years of Musharraf rule, a sustainable and legitimate system built on the rule and respect of law that delivers us from the curse of boom-bust cyclical economy.Tinkering with the economy in the short run and energizing a few sectors like construction,consumer durables and cars ,and under-investing in infra-structure and endogenous resource development,could have only worked that far as it did.Growth started dwindling and problems such as trade gap started reappearing well within his period.Why the boom if it has to bust so frequently and so early?Is it real or sustainable?So problems are not resolved for ever.You need a system and a process which Musharraf interrupted for eleven long years.But for him, a new genre of competent leadership could have emerged through several completed elections and tenures.So did his naive and selfish predecessors like General Zia And General Ayub.Musharraf did take some long term measures, which we would elaborate upon separately,building up media,establishing local governments and doing away with the colonial-style deputy commissioner system.He could have done more.And he does not want to enter for doing more.For he cannot and he will not.For example he would not be launching land reforms , as he would be needing the crutches of the land lords even more than ever before.He had the support of the most powerful institution of the country.There is no reason that army should support him now.Army supports its commanders and not spent cartridges as Musharraf loved to dub his retired colleagues,as he is retired himself now.His worth,apart from his real estate assets,would not be more than the residual brass that continues to stick around.
However,he can be worth more,if he does what is required and what is right and suitable and appropriate.He can do many things.He can think about the problems of Pakistan in the context of his own experience of power and control and come out with a recipe for Pakistan's development.He can seek the help of his former colleagues and other competent and experienced people who may be willing to extend a helping hand,should he prove to be genuine.He should publish his thoughts,exposing real enemies and difficulties that lay buried and away from people.It is the people,ordinary and not so ordinary,who are to be the ultimate hope and beneficiaries himself.Today you are a people ,just a people.In his book,he would be well advised to express repentance on what he did to the constitutional process and apologize to the nation and advise others not to repeat the same.There is no disrespect or dishonor in it.It would salvage him for history,after all at that age and experience,one would like to think how history would rate him and place him ,among heroes,ordinary or destroyers if not outright traitors.Would he do that?highly unlikely.
He can also do what Clinton and Carter are doing.They are doing it on world scale,he can do it at a lower level-at his national level.He can do what Imran Khan(but for his politics),Edhi and Agha Khan have done He may be be able to do more.Do something for educating the poor,help build bridges with India,encourage Pakistan Defence forces on being more cost-efficient and less demanding of budgetary sources.He has the credibility, contacts and experience.Many , at-least in the rightist circles in the US would oblige him.Going by his track record over the last two years,inviting hanger ons to yacht trips , networking with vested interests and what not ? He is ordinary even slightly lesser,unless he proves otherwise.