Musharraf is in the news again. The once fearsome SSG general who toppled the takht of Lahore and shooed away the so called Lion of Punjab into exile is struggling to gain some political traction. Just how low can his fortunes have fallen can be deduced from the fact that he is hiding away like a coward in AIFC, trying to dodge the judicial proceedings against him. If there is anyone responsible for his downfall, it is the man himself.
I always thought that Musharraf had too much arrogance in him. Yes, arrogance and not swagger - these are two different things. Recall his naked threat to Bugti? Or his cruel indifference and barely concealed warning to BB about him holding the reins of her security? Not to forget his strategic fiasco called Kargil, which almost lead to a full blown war between Nuclear powers. In the end, the country paid the price for his poor judgments. The litany of his blunders makes for a somber reading.
Musharraf’s crimes are many. Top of the list is his sheer incompetence. It makes one shudder that this is the type of Generalship that runs the world's fifth biggest nuclear powered military? From the Kargil disaster to the loss of territory to Taliban and, from his double dealings in Afghanistan to his delayed action on Laal Masjid, Musharraf has left an indelible mark of sheer incompetence in his wake. This is the man who was at the top of his game prior to the summer of 2007. He held all the cards yet barely a year later he was out of office and his chief nemesis were running the country and calling the shots. If there ever is a book: How Not to Run a Country for Dummies, then Musharraf would star in it with his many follies.
The problem with Musharraf was exactly what had inflicted his Khaki predecessors; they all wanted to feel legitimized. May be Pakistan should have gotten a true dictator or a democrat. Every dictator which comes to rule this country ends up trying to be a democrat. May be it is because we as a diverse nation are too temperamental in nature to bear a fearsome dictator like some other countries.
Musharraf had a chance to make history especially after the golden opportunity which was served up post 9/11. He could have shelved the Jihadi legacy of Zia and sorted his generals out to ditch the bankrupt strategic depth doctrine and solidify a strategic partnership with the Americans for economic development. Instead, he went on to play double games. Running with the hare and hunting with the hound can get you only so far. As the world watched, Pakistan’s Talibanisation began with a blood fest. First the FATA tribal areas fell followed by the formation of the fearsome TTP that went on to capture and rule Swat – inside Pakistan proper. The mere fact that the cancerous spread of Taliban and the Jihadi ideology may blowback never stirred the imagination of our strategic geniuses in Rawalpindi. During all this Musharraf continued to believe his own rhetoric and the ultimate lie which he made into a slogan – Pakistan first. It was anything but Pakistan first. His experiment with sham democracy is another miserable tale.
Musharraf left in his wake a country in a near civil war. The Baloch insurgency, the most potent in years due to his making a martyr out of Bugti and ceding the control of North West Pakistan to Taliban are some of the highlights of his misrule. There are many others such as covering up the whole Abdul Qadir Khan nuclear fiasco. This is his legacy yet he still has the gall to blame the politicians. Today Musharraf is nothing but an old man: still living in the fantasy of his imagined importance. He continues to rely on the army as pressure on him to be tried piles up. At most he is nothing but an embarrassment for the all-powerful army.