Exit Musharraf – What next?

""It is an irony that when dictators grab power through military coups or devious means, they bulldoze and completely obliterate opposition, as they are paranoid about opponents and consider them to be a threat to their future and very existence.  Therefore, in order to remain in power, they are totally ruthless and do not bat an eyelid or hesitate in liquidating opponents, be they real (or those they merely suspect) and a time comes when their sins and wrongdoings are an endless list., e.g. Adolph Hitler, Josef Stalin, etc.  They are then caught up in a quagmire or Catch-22 situation and are in a quandary, whether to remain in power or relinquish it. 

Since dictators know what absolute power can achieve, they relish it and do not want to relinquish it to quit gracefully on a high note.  Further, they fear that once out of power, they would be the targets of opponents.  Having said this, they are also frightened while in power and become very security conscious and are always scared, suspicious and wary of even their close lieutenants and confidantes.  One example in recent times is Saddam Hussain, who would not hesitate to liquidate anyone, however close and dear they may have been.  Sadly, everyone knows how his end came?   

On Monday, the 18th August 2008, President Pervez Musharraf was forced to resign, because everything was stacked against him and had he not resigned he would have been impeached – a total embarrassment and humiliation that he desperately wanted to avoid.

However, there is no guarantee whether his opponents, chiefly Nawaz Sharif and also others, may slap many court cases and make him run around endlessly.  We will have to just wait and watch.  Revenge is sweet they say and Nawaz Sharif, who has suffered a lot is in no mood to forgive and forget the b?te noire.  Once, as General Pervez Musharraf, he tormented Nawaz Sharif and today the tables have turned and probably the latter is having the last laugh.  Did Pervez Musharraf dream that his end would be quite catastrophic, disgraceful and ignoble?

When Musharraf seized power in Pakistan in October 1999 deposing the ex-Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, on flimsy accusations that have yet to be proved and put him in jail for a year and then forced him to go in exile to Saudi Arabia, he felt that he could rule Pakistan in perpetuity by setting up his own rules and goalposts, dishing out his own concoction of democracy by giving sops to politicians from minor, religious and fanatical parties in order to get their support.  Normally, most politicians in the Indian subcontinent can be bought at the right price and small time politicians are available for sale without much ado.

The initial two years of President Musharraf’s rule went well.  However, on 11th September 2001, after aircrafts were forcibly hijacked by suicidal radicals and crashed into World Trade Centre and other important buildings in USA, Musharraf seized the opportunity to make an about turn and portray himself as the friend of United States of America (USA) by fighting terrorism.  At one time, he was a Godfather to these terrorists, whom India always accused of creating turmoil in Jammu & Kashmir and acts of terrorism in other parts of India, but nobody was willing to listen to her.  Only after 11th September 2001, USA realised the serious threat posed by terrorism.

""This culminated into close friendship between Bush and Mush.  Bush pumped in billions of dollars into Pakistan and showered Mush with praises and called him (and Pakistan), USA’s true friend in fighting terrorism.  How much of the money given by USA did Musharraf spend on really combating terrorism is debatable?  There are also accusations that some of the money was spent to buy arms that could only be used on the Indian front and not for combating terrorists on Afghanistan border.  Further, he also pocketed a good bit of money.

Sadly, dictators and despots are very poor in history.  If they had read and heeded history, most of them would not have had bizarre and dramatic ends.  In Pakistan, look at the ends of self-styled Field Marshals Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan, Gen. Zia Ul Haq and now Gen. Pervez Musharraf.  The first was forced to relinquish power, the second died under house arrest, the third was killed when the military transport aircraft exploded at high altitude and, as per the media reports, only his finger was identified from the ring he wore and as regards Musharraf, he has just resigned and may have to spend his days in exile.  
Musharraf could have quit years ago and led a respectable life in Pakistan or gone and settled abroad with his relatives.  Sadly, absolute power makes dictators heady, rash and adventurous and they are lulled into complacency and become blind to reality. 

However, whatever happens in Pakistan should remain localized and there should not be ramifications, which will certainly affect India.  Any right thinking person, especially an Indian, would like Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif to cobble up a coalition that is workable and sustainable to last its term in office.  Pakistan should have a corruption-free Government that is responsive to people’s needs, especially those who are living in grinding poverty and cannot afford to have two square meals a day and get basic facilities.  Pakistan badly needs a Government that can usher in all round progress.

In politics and foreign policy, there are neither permanent friends nor enemies.  There have been many examples of this in the past and again take into consideration United States of America’s (USA’s) relations with Pakistan.  For USA, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Retd. (Or President Musharraf) was once or till recent past their darling and blue-eyed boy.  However, now that he is no more in power, he has been treated like a curry leaf which is chucked away in the trash can after a tasty dish is prepared. 

For USA, the goalposts have changed and they realise that it is the time for them to be on goody, goody terms with Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, if they are serious about doing business with Pakistan.  As regard to Mush, he has been given the push and shoved away.  Today, he is a non-entity and only an incorrigible optimist will feel that he can make a comeback.  However, this is a wishful thinking.  How sad and did he realise this, when he was at the height of his power?  Today, all his friends and backers have deserted him and he is all alone. 

Nelson Lewis, Bahrain

Author: Nelson Lewis- Bahrain