Delusions of grandeur

Every time former president Pervez Musharraf publicly voices his opinions, he, quite frankly, puts his foot in his mouth by rehashing his usual rhetoric in often unremarkable ways. His latest barrage of comments came on the eve of the fall of Dhaka in 1971, one of the most devastating points in Pakistan’s history, a dismemberment that could have been prevented had it not been for army intervention. To hear Musharraf say that the army may yet again be forced to intervene in politics due to the declining state of affairs in the country is enough to make one understand why the man is being kept at an arm’s length from Pakistan. Musharraf fails to understand that many of the problems that plague Pakistan are precisely a consequence of the malaise of the military’s direct interventionist policies. He fails to understand that it is because the democratic process he so openly castigates has been flimsy and constantly interrupted that the country has been gripped by many maladies. He fails to understand that the various periods of army rule that subverted the democratic process did nothing but pile problem upon problem for the civilian government that would inherit them, only to be toppled in the next coup. He fails to understand that it is this vicious cycle of army rule followed by an overburdened civilian rule that has brought the country to its knees. And he fails to understand that his suggestions are tantamount to bringing Pakistan crashing down even further.

He went further by saying that if the rest of the world continued to alienate Pakistan, the country would be forced to take matters into its own hands, including “working with the Taliban”. Now that is hardly a novel idea since Musharraf is the original architect of the dual policies vis-à-vis the Taliban and the US. It was during his stint as president that he struck a deal with the Americans for a crackdown on extremist jihadis but continued to give safe havens to the Afghan Taliban. Musharraf’s assertion that Pakistan may just have to work with the militants is ironic because it is Pakistan that initially deployed the Taliban fighters to Afghanistan in 1994. Pakistan was also one of only three countries to officially recognise the Taliban after they took over in Kabul in 1996. Our creation of, and collusion with the Taliban is common knowledge but it looks like the ex-president may need to brush up on his history.

Musharraf went on about how the army is the saviour of the country and how it knows best. Musharraf has the mindset of the typical khaki man. The fact that Pakistan has suffered incrementally because of the policies adopted by authoritarian dictators who wrestled power from civilian governments elected by the wishes of the people, shows just how much they actually knew and know about what is best for this country. If the army takes over now, Pakistan could lose some of the precious support it is receiving from the US — support that is vital in keeping the economy afloat — because the army’s ‘quiet’ support for the Afghan Taliban is no secret as well as the fact that the Pakistani Taliban could very well be given free reign due to negotiated peace processes and truces. These are situations that can be ill afforded by this country.

It is unfortunate that the many previous and current civilian governments leave much to be desired. Their incompetence and barely concealed corruption have always given adventurers room to dream. Musharraf is one such opportunist. Even though he is hardly taken seriously anymore, his words ought to wake the present incumbents out of their slumber to straighten the affairs of the state so that men like him are not given a chance to issue such outrageous statements. – Dailytimes