Pervez Musharraf enjoying generous air time on Dunya News is ironic, considering the former dictator would have never allowed dissent of this sort to be aired against his regime during his time in power. Even a picture of the current Prime Minister printed in the local newspaper could have rankled Mr Musharraf. Now the former dictator basks in the glory of democratic free speech and has challenged the government to a debate when he is currently sitting safely outside the country while ignoring calls to face trial.

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It is simplistic to reduce politics to a high school debate competition. The ex-dictator is to stand trial for treason, among other things, and merely talking about real or imagined progress is not going to make a difference. The two are entirely unrelated. Media wars should not be on his agenda and his enemies don’t have the time to even bat a lash at such a suggestion. Getting himself exonerated should take precedence for him, if he actually believes himself to be innocent.

There was much that can be criticised in what Pervaiz Musharraf said, but his consistent use of security rhetoric as an attempt to undermine the sitting government is especially problematic. His experience with the army is irrelevant to politics and he cannot speak for them any longer. Additionally, he expresses complete confidence in the ability of the current military leadership that has no apparent desire to challenge the government. The armed forces are an arm of the state, and work in tandem with everything else and the old general seems out of touch with the needs of the time as well as the role of the military a decade after his time. We cannot possibly assume that the good general was actually using his past glories in the army as an excuse to illicit more than just support. He would know better than that. And obviously the armed forces are fully cognisant of their responsibility to both the state and government and always distance themselves from what is said by their former leader.

The most amusing thing about the debate challenge put forward by Musharraf though was the fact that he asked the government to arrange a face-off between himself and the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister, and anyone else they wished to throw at him. Mr Musharraf is okay with this handicap, as we cannot forget that he managed all of these things himself, as the dictator of this country for eight years.