In the line of fire

General (retired) Pervez Musharraf has expressed his willingness to return to Pakistan and urged the nation to gear up for a change. His video address to his party supporters in Lahore comes on the heels of Altaf Hussain’s address to his party workers from London in the football ground near Gaddafi Stadium. In his address, Musharraf trashed the threats to his life from the Taliban and other extremist groups claiming that he is only afraid of God and linked his return to the organisation of his party. General (retired) Musharraf made his ‘debut’ in electoral politics with the launching of his All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) last year in London. His support base is limited to a few beneficiaries of his rule and his Facebook fans. For a party looking for a sizeable share in the 2013 elections, a few thousand supporters in the rally was a poor show.

And it is unlikely his support base will increase any time in the near future considering his unpopularity in large sections of society and the tough competition to be offered by rival parties. It is doubtful that the MQM will allow Musharraf to encroach on its turf in urban Sindh, or the PPP in the rural areas of the province. Similarly, the Sharifs, given their past grievances against Musharraf, will offer fierce resistance to any attempts by Musharraf to find a toehold in Punjab, without which no party can fulfil its national aspirations. He will also have to consider the risk of being arrested on arrival in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case.Musharraf’s public denial of his meeting with Nawaz Sharif in London has put to rest any possibility of reconciliation between these sworn enemies.

On the other hand, the Chaudhrys of Gujrat are faced with the dilemma of preventing their party from collapsing altogether; they cannot offer him any worthwhile support. As for the other two provinces, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) suffered rampant violence and internal displacements because of Musharraf’s dual policy of supporting the Afghan Taliban and going after al Qaeda. Several attempts were made on his life following the launch of military operations in FATA. Hence he will have a hard time finding support in KPK and his party offices are likely to be attacked by militants. Musharraf is highly unpopular in Balochistan due to the murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti and the military repression of dissent. Therefore, there too his party will not find any support. The threats to his life are real. General (retired) Musharraf, sincere advice: you have had your innings, do not put yourself in the line of fire once again. – Dailytimes