He was once the most powerful man in Pakistan who ruled the country with unchallenged authority for eight long years.
From creating the ‘King’s party’ to introducing the infamous National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), he would have the final word on anything and everything. For years, the orders were issued and executed in the name of the ‘PM’. Everybody knew that the ‘PM’ did not mean prime minister: It meant Pervez Musharraf.
But good old days are long gone. Today, the ex-general is dubbed by many a thing of the past. His misfortune was triggered by the lawyers’ movement which began with the ouster of then judicial czar Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and culminated in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
Amid this political hiatus, the million-dollar question goes unanswered: Will Musharraf make an impact in Pakistan’s politics?
The former president has announced forming a ’grand’ alliance, made up of 23 political parties. On the face of it, this may sound impressive. But it is not. Most of Musharraf’s presumed allies are entities who virtually exist on paper only. Other parties in this alliance are smaller political groups with a distinct religious, sectarian or ethnic outlook and none of them can be categorised as a mainstream political force.
Political pundits do not lend much credence to the ex-military man’s dreams of becoming the centre of political gravity, again. They see Musharraf as a ‘done with’ phenomenon who availed his chance.
“Times have changed,” comments political analyst Kanwar Dilshad.
“There wouldn’t be another October 12,” he said while referring to the day when Musharraf toppled Nawaz Sharif’s government in 1999.
Musharraf has a lot of baggage which needs to be dumped, Dilshad believes. “The high treason, NRO, Lal Masjid operation, the killing of Akbar Bugti and accusations about Benazir Bhutto’s murder – pending court cases and all that – even if he gets ‘lucky’ with the blessing of ‘powers that be’ – and comes clean – what political prospects does he have? He has no political constituency and nothing to sell to the voters as electoral rhetoric.”
In the presence of PTI with a significant vote bank in urban areas, Musharraf has lately been targeting religious parties but his efforts might receive a setback given that religio-political forces are hobnobbing to revive the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), bringing parties such as JUI-F and JI under a single umbrella.
JUI-F’s chief Maulana Falzur Rehman, who stands at the forefront of the move to reunite religious parties, discusses Musharraf in bitter tones. “Zero multiplied by zero is equal to zero,” he said while commenting on the formation of the so-called grand alliance. “Musharraf is irrelevant. He is redundant and a rejected entity from the past. Efforts to place him back into national political scene would lead to nowhere.”
Chairman of the PML-N and Leader of the House in Senate Raja Zafarul Haq shows no courtesy either when discussing the former general. “This man must first return to Pakistan and face cases (against him). If, by virtue of a miracle, he comes out clean, only then he should join politics. Otherwise, he has no future … He is doomed. He should avoid uttering rubbish.”
Desiring to be kept unnamed, a former aide of Musharraf says the political alliance is not likely to make any significant impact on Pakistan’s political landscape.
With the rise of PTI as a mainstream political party, Musharraf can hardly make an impression in politics, he says. “The political void left by traditionalist politics of PML-N and PPP has long been filled by PTI. There is no room for Musharraf … in the existing political arrangement.”
For some, the former general may be a suitable choice for being ‘placed’ in Karachi. But, this would dent Musharraf’s standing from once all powerful army chief to getting embroiled in ethnic politics. Musharraf appears to be cautious in this regard.
In a recent statement from Dubai, General (retired) Musharraf dismissed reports that he would assume the leadership of MQM-P or PSP. “I cannot belittle my stature by heading an ethnic party. But, it is possible for MQM-P and PSP to join the grand alliance.”
COURTESY BY: https://tribune.com