Let us put some simple facts on the table without bias, prejudice or partisan political affiliations. Let us be rational, logical and analytical with the core purpose of understanding what is happening in our country at the present time.

The first simple fact is: in Pakistan, the civilian ruling elite and traditional politicians have failed this nation as much as the military rulers have. Let us not play the blame game. If the military dictators abrogated the constitution, undermined the rule of law, and submitted themselves and the nation to flawed national policies, so have the civilian regimes.

Have not our civilian rulers been patronised, promoted and imposed upon us by their foreign patrons as much as the military rulers were - by the same foreign powers? Have not the civilian regimes been conducting pro-West foreign policy as much as the military rulers did? Have not the civilian rulers permitted foreign power intervention in this country’s domestic affairs as much as the military dictators allowed? Was not the infamous NRO a compromise of mutual political interests between the PPP top leadership and an incumbent military dictator?

These are some of the simple facts. The apologists on both sides of the divide cannot go on fooling the nation by manipulating them and taking on a moral defence of their respective positions and claiming that democracy is at loggerheads with the threat of a military takeover - the battle of democracy against military dictatorship.

The second simple fact: it is a matter of common sense that General (retd) Pervez Musharraf did not return to Pakistan from his self-exile to face legal battles, humiliation and possible imprisonment - or even a worse future. So, what was the General’s real agenda? Who planned his return? Why did the PML-N leadership remain absolutely non-vocal on the eve of his return - until Musharraf was arrested? Rumour has it that the PML-N was told by a friendly government to maintain absolute silence over the matter.

Let us not forget that the Zardari regime had earlier sent off the General with a full guard of honour. Doesn’t that all add a spice of political intrigue to Musharraf’s return with a three-way collaboration of the incumbent President of the country, the leader of the major political party considered to be forerunners in the forthcoming elections, and the assertiveness of some friendly foreign powers in this matter?

The third fact is: Ahmed Raza Kasuri, legal counsel for Musharraf and his party’s top official, has already threatened in the High Court and repeated himself several times on TV talk shows that the General’s trial will be the ‘mother’ of all legal trials in this country. Kasuri has warned that at least 500 people, including parliamentarians, several generals, provincial governors, important political officeholders and many members of the judiciary, will most likely face legal actions in the prosecution of this case.

He has also publicly proposed a Truth and Reconciliation Commission with the explicit purpose of “integrating” the nation. The most intriguing and politically alarming part of this proposal is the suggested date of July 31, 2009, as the “cut-off date”. He seems to advocate that all irregularities (perhaps, financial, political, legal, constitutional as well as criminal) be waived against all offenders prior to this proposed date and only those offenders (perhaps, politicians, parliamentarians, tax offenders, loan defaulters, members of the ruling elite, etc) be dealt by law post-July 31, 2009. In other words, a second NRO is being proposed with public accountability of the ruling elite for only the last four years - and decades of corruption and financial mismanagement should be set aside.

So, what happens to those who should be held accountable for the massive corruption, financial embezzlements, mismanagement of national affairs, and flawed domestic and foreign policies? What happens to the $97 billion purportedly owned by a select group of politicians, bureaucrats and mafioso (the so-called entrepreneurs), which is stacked in Swiss banks? What happens to loan defaulters and tax evaders and to those who have repeatedly undermined national interests for personal gains and vested self-interests?

Don’t be naive: this nation is once again being taken for a ride. A second NRO is being planned for the ultimate benefits of the traditional ruling elite and to maintain political and economic status quo and American-centric foreign policy in the country. Musharraf’s return and the PPP-PML-N leadership’s project of silence of “muk muka” 2013 democracy was part of the greater plan patronised by our friends in Washington, London and elsewhere that now seems to be backfiring.

Suddenly what has happened is the unforeseen and unpredictable intervention of hidden variables - a judge of the superior judiciary has surprisingly taken Musharraf to task. The game has changed its intended course of direction, though the original objective of a second NRO remains intact. Consequently, an intense anti-judiciary and anti-Chief Justice of Pakistan campaign has been launched in the media to counteract the damage to the planned project of another so-called democracy for the next five years in Pakistan.

Recently, a Lahore-based columnist has convincingly argued in a series of articles that Musharraf’s return to Pakistan was organised by the Pentagon: the State Department wanted a civilian government in the state in 2013, while the Pentagon prevailed for Musharraf’s return as a strongman, who could unquestionably and effectively aid the American exodus from Afghanistan with the help of the Pakistani armed forces and a “muk muka” setup. He also contends that the plan was to exploit Musharraf’s known legal problems for creating a wave of sympathy for him all over the country. (The ongoing humiliation was not predicted.)

Irrespective of Musharraf’s legal cases in Pakistani courts now, I believe that the General is guilty of dragging this nation into a vicious and destructive war (the so-called war on terror) for which he is personally responsible. He had no legal, political or moral authority to have made such a monumental decision unilaterally. If the general is guilty of other crimes as charged, he must face the music now. But, indeed, without inappropriate humiliation and vicious dragging of the entire Pakistani army along with him (the PPP and PML-N leadership have been conducting anti-army campaigns for quite some time now).

The most important point I am making here is: “Is hammam meh sab nange hain” (everyone here is shamelessly involved in this charade of evil and weakness). If Musharraf has to face the music, so should all the loan defaulters, tax evaders, embezzlers of national assets, inefficient political managers, corrupt officials, account holders of unlawful deposits in Swiss banks, and so on and so forth.

Say a big ‘No’ to a second NRO. Indeed, Pakistan needs a truth, reconciliation, recovery, deliverance and retribution commission. If the elections are held, vote for a change - otherwise, this nation will have to face the ugly music for an infinity.

The writer is UAE-based academic, policy analyst, conflict resolution expert and author of several books on Pakistan and foreign policy issues. He holds a doctorate and a masters degree from

Columbia University in New York.