Pervez Musharraf: Pakistan’s Only Real Democrat in 40 Years

August 27, 2008

By Laila Sohail

Sunday, 10 August 2008 



ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—While Musharraf may be called a dictator; it is his democratic policies that have made the maximum contribution to his unpopularity.


He gave the media its much awaited freedom. The media wanted to use its freedom to the full it found an easy target in a tolerant and democratic-minded military ruler. Live current affair talk shows replaced the daily soaps at tea time, and news anchors took the place of movie stars.


With the discovery of live coverage, something had to be covered, so sensationalism became the ‘in’ thing. The more controversial, the more it sells. The media that Musharraf had opened up to show his dedication to putting Pakistan on the track of democracy chose him to be its favorite villain.


Those who criticized Musharraf before the elections for not allowing the exiled politicians to return, were now criticizing Musharraf for letting these failed politicians back, after seeing their disappointing performance after Feb. 18.


Musharraf’s biggest mistake is that he tried to be a democratic leader while

he could have easily been an authoritative one. What was required perhaps was that he ruled this country like a true dictator, changing the political system and snubbing all opposition. He joined a political party – most likely the wrong one – took off his uniform, held elections, and let the power transition be smooth for those whom the nation had chosen, despite knowing their inabilities. He has the

vision and ability to do more for this country than these self-centered politicians ever will, but it is his reputation that is tarnished while they enjoy their moments of glory.


How can I speak in favor of a man who broke the constitution to gain power? How can anyone support a dictator? “The people of this country

want democracy, not a man in uniform.” We hear this line time and again.


Before deciding on what the people of this country want, a reality check should be taken. The people of this country don’t care that a man who had nothing to do

with politics all his life, who was not even an active member of the party that his wife was leading while she was alive, who was always in the backseat with the only limelight he got being for all the wrong reasons … that man is now ruling the country, without a vote and without a seat in the parliament. Why? Because the 19 year old heir to the throne is too young to take over as king. Some mockery of

democracy this is!Feb. 18, 2008, election, held by the so-called dictator. That’s the truth.


The tradition of seizing power continues. One has to give Mr. Zerdari full credit for not only securing the rider’s seat on this horse of power, but also playing the role well. Whether it’s his transformation from a Sindhi jagir dar to an English speaking diplomat, or his never ending talks with Nawaz Sharif to maintain the coalition, Mr. Zardari has become what we call a true politician in Pakistan.


I don’t care if Musharraf used his uniform to become the president. I am not a politician, so I don’t have to be diplomatic. I am not a lawyer, so I don’t have to defend the legitimacy of his actions. I am a young Pakistani who wants to see this nation get out of the chains of feudalism and become a progressive state. If it takes a dictator to do that, so be it.


This system and these politicians have given us enough reasons to lose our faith in them. Their model of democracy is a twisted one that only serves their own purpose as per convenience, without a consideration for the country or its people. What they call a ‘transition into democracy’ is a transition into darkness, with them being the civilian dictators. Keep your flamboyant styles and deceiving promises, no thank you, we don’t want your ‘vision’ of democracy.’ We are better suited to a dictatorship than this gag they call a democracy. Meanwhile, the comedy circus continues …


I support a man who I know is educated, who comes from a middle class family and who served this country for years through its most prestigious institution.  I would choose him over the hypocritical feudals with shady pasts any day. The elite whose lifestyles have no resemblance to those of the common man, and who only see politics as the easiest path to self capitalization.


There is a piece of paper much talked about and we are ready to put a man on trial for violating it. Those who talk about democracy and the importance of this paper should look at their own history first. The constitution passed in 1973 was first amended by the very man who passed it. In April 1974 an amendment allowed to limit the press freedom and ban any political parties it felt were a threat to the ‘sovereignty and integrity’ of the country. In 1975 laws were passed to detain suspects indefinitely and take away rights of bail for those arrested

by the FSF, the fascist personal militia of the ‘democratic’ ruler at the time. This was the fate chosen for the constitution by its own architect.


This vendetta against the President has nothing to do with the violation of the constitution or democracy. Mr. Nawaz Sharif and his bruised ego won’t rest until the man responsible for his downfall is driven out of office. The political system is hostage to one man’s revenge. It is an old and dirty move in this power play, because the only thing that really matters to the politicians is power. Today they

talk about their struggle for democracy, but like all their other claims, it is a sham. In the 1977 election, there was open prosecution of the supporters of political parties, rallies were banned, and a law was passed limiting public gatherings to just 5 people. Power hunger led Bhutto to rig the elections in 1977, an unnecessary, hasty and fatal move. Contrast this with the


Musharraf was blamed for the exiled politicians. So he designed the NRO to bring them back. The Feb. 18 election result showed that it was the will of the majority to have these people back, not only in the country but also in power. The list of corruption cases and the record of past performances was not enough to challenge the invincible feudal power of these feudal politicians. Yet Musharraf lost the faith of his own supporters due to NRO because they saw it as a compromise on principles.

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