Pervez Musharraf Seeks Support from Pakistani American CommunityOctober 22, 2010
By Kalyani Giri
“We need thought and action to unify bureaucracy, the military, and the people,” said Musharraf, who came into power in a non-violent military coup in 1999 and led Pakistan for eight years until he resigned under impeachment pressure in 2008. “When I come in with a mandate for the people, I can have the legitimacy that I did not previously have. Because I wore a uniform, the world saw me as a dictator, which I was not,” he added. He said that he was cognizant of the rocky uphill struggle to victory, if any, but hoped to win the trust of the people, particularly the youth of Pakistan who are mired in “despondency and hopelessness, and yearn for change”. And that change would be democracy, he added.
This week, Musharraf met with the community at private and public gatherings peppered all over this city. His itinerary also included visits with former US president George H. W. Bush, and local socialite, political activist, and former honorary consul general to Pakistan and Morocco, Joanne Herring, whose support he hoped to garner. Aside from financial backing for his campaign, he reiterated that the influential Pakistani community in the diaspora is a valuable resource in helping to get him back in office. He has been visiting many cities within the US and Canada that boast large Pakistani communities.
Yet Pakistan, reeling in the throes of crippling poverty, flood relief, an internal war against extremists, ineffective governance, and a host of other significant problems, may very well be a minefield to Musharraf who had already his shot at governance and failed. His re-entering public office in that embattled country seem at the very least, remote, as he has lost credibility and will have a challenge on hand convincing the people that he has the solutions to put the country back on track, observers say. During his presidency, through the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance he granted amnesty to politicians and bureaucrats accused of corruption and other crimes, another black mark against him. And adding to his woes are criminal cases initiated against him in Pakistani courts and the possibility of assassination if he returns to the country of his birth. Much of his jockeying to be in the running will have to be done long distance and by proxy.
Musharraf deems himself a “man of war but a man for peace” and sees his role as a crusader eradicating illiteracy and poverty. He wants to invest in the youth by providing them with vocational skills. He will work toward increasing export, fostering a stable socio-economic climate and controlling the fiscal deficit, he said.
Addressing the thorny issue of Afghanistan and the Taliban, Musharraf said that after 9/11, Pakistan was criticized for not doing enough in the war against terrorism.
“The misconception is that Pakistan is the problem. They may be coming into Pakistan, they have sanctuaries in Pakistan, but most are in Afghanistan,” he said. “Negative handling of Afghanistan began long before, in 1979 when the Soviets invaded and the world ignored the plight of 4 million refugees in that region. Now we cannot afford to quit before bringing a legitimate stable government to Afghanistan, or it will cost the world heavily,” he said.
In India, extremism among Muslim youth is on the rise and developing excessively, observed Musharraf.
“We need to adopt a holistic approach and neutralize the situation without breaking links with Indian Muslims,” he added.
India and Pakistan have been on a confrontation course for 60 years and extremists and terrorists are fueling dissent because they do not want peace between the two countries, he said.
“Punishing Pakistan with counter attacks are irresponsible and war will be inevitable. We must stop the hysteria and leaders on both sides must continue with cogent dialogue,” said Musharraf.
For Musharraf, politics is greater than self.
“For those that love Pakistan, we cannot let go because we will become international orphans and lose our identity. Only progress and development will ensure the wellbeing of my people of Pakistan,” he said.
When asked about Musharraf’s chances at the polls, well-known local businessman Ghulam Bombaywala smiled and said:
“You never know. It’s too early to predict.”
Source: Indo-American News