Karachi seems to have traded one telephonic absentee leader for another. All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) arranged a public meeting this Sunday in Karachi Former President General (retd) Pervaiz Musharraf addressed the people via video link from Dubai. His message this time was to rid the province of politics based on ethnicity and support his APML in the upcoming elections. This is a direct and yet another attempt to influence the vote bank of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in the province. No matter how strong the message was, the lack of political planning and the abrupt introduction of the party into the system definitely had a lot to do with the presence of a small crowd at the event.

Another thing to consider here is the speech of General (retd) Musharraf via video link. Politicians can only gather so much crowd with such tactics and not every politician is able to create an aura despite not being physically present. At the same time, while he was critical of the two parties having a strong hold in the province, he is himself guilty of indulging in the same political tactics as his opponents. He has been an ardent critic of MQM Leader Altaf Hussain for his telephonic and video link speeches. However, he is seen doing the same himself.

This raises the same question for him as well. How is a man - sitting outside of the country, not among his people and addressing them via video links - capable of leading the country and the people? The irony is that both are in the exact same situation at the moment. General (retd) Pervaiz Musharraf had to flee the country because of cases against him. Same is the case with Altaf Hussain. Both cannot return to the country due to the fear of prosecution. How do they expect people to be swayed by their promises when they are physically absent and making claims over video links?

The government took strict action against Altaf Hussain and his broadcasts have been banned by the government and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA). The same course of action should be taken against General (retd) Musharraf as well. This is the only legitimate way a country can treat someone who is a proclaimed offender and refuses to return to the country. For them to be canvassing and aiming to get elected is a direct challenge to the writ of the state and must be dealt with accordingly.