Gen. Pervaiz Musharraf, our former President, was the undisputed RULER of Pakistan for over eight years.

We had welcomed the khakis with open arms and there was dancing in the streets, sweets were stuffed into grinning faces, the Stock Market had reacted favorably and everybody had heaved a sigh of relief, conveniently forgetting what past army dictators had done to the country.

But his bad judgment and ill-conceived actions against the Chief Justice, the killing of Baloch leader, Akbar Bugti and the harsh action against Lal Masjid, had outraged the entire nation and they had taken to the streets in protest.

A human tsunami, led by our brave legal fraternity, had gathered force and was soon joined by a gigantic wave of citizens from all walks of life and the battle cry of ‘Go Musharraf Go’ had roared through the streets of Pakistan.

The swarming crowd of men, women and children had braved the sun and rain, tear gas and the lathi charges and walked to the Federal Capital to demand Musharraf’s resignation and the restoration of the CJ and his brother judges.

And the media had done us proud and also faced the attacks on their crews and TV studios and stood firm and tall with the lawyers. And after months of violent protests, the commando dictator, with his ‘Pakistan First’ slogan and two clenched fists, that symbolized his strength, admitted defeat, forced to resign and leave the country in disgrace and go into self exile, like some of our past leaders, including the present PM.

In his bid to stay in power, the General, who had preached ‘tolerance and moderation’, declared an emergency, mutilated the Constitution, humiliated the Honorable Chief Justice and judges, introduced the black and notorious NRO and destroyed the Institutions. And it was during his watch that the country was dragged into the US-Afghan war and the drone attacks.

After Musharraf, the PPP government had taken over the reins of the country, with Asif Zardari as President. But ZAB’s party, with its frayed and tattered ‘ROTI-KAPRA-Makan, also squandered the opportunity to put matters right and in short five years, corruption and mismanagement increased by leaps and bounds and the ‘Go Musharraf Go’ chant, changed to ‘Go Zardari Go’ and the Accidental President became ‘public enemy number one’. The rest is history. 

Before the General left, he had stated that he was not a coward and vowed to return to Pakistan and take part in the 2013 elections. And true to his word and despite the advice of  his friends and relatives not to do so, the former military dictator returned to Pakistan on 24th March after four years in exile, to ‘Face the Music and save Pakistan’,  as he put it and filed his nomination papers for contesting the elections. 

But as they say, ‘Man proposes, but God disposes’. In the case of Musharraf, it was the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

The General had been warned that if he returned, he would be arrested and sent to Jail. And so it was. Immediately on his arrival, the former President was arrested, but instead of being sent to jail like an ordinary criminal, he was escorted to his lavish estate in the suburbs of Islamabad, proving once again that in this land of the Pak and the Pure, there is one law for the rich and famous, who are the minority and another for the poor, who are the majority.

After six months of being confined to his lavish and sprawling farmhouse on the outskirts of Islamabad, the former President is now a free man, as he has been granted bail in all the cases registered against him and a judge has issued a release order, exempting him from house arrest. However, he cannot leave Pakistan, as his name is still on the Exit Control List (ECL).

Due to bad governance, the country is back to square one and we are once again on the verge of economic and social collapse.

At the same time, the country stands deeply divided on many issues, especially on whether to talk or not to talk to the Taliban and who is a Shaheed and who a Martyr?

So there are changes that the chants of ‘Go Sharif Go may soon echo through the streets of the cities of Pakistan and in time, become a ‘Come Musharraf Come’ mantra, as we never learn from our mistakes.

After 9/11, the General had become the darling of the West and world leaders were rushing to Pakistan to pay homage to the great Caesar and a photo opportunity with the beaming General. He had the world on a string, foreign aid was pouring in, our coffers were full and the future looked bright and promising.

With Musharraf, Uncle Sam and his allies had a one window operation and deal with just an army ‘strong man’, who was ‘their man’. But now they have to deal with diverse, erratic and unreliable leaders, each marching to their own tune and personal agenda. But instead of using this God sent opportunity and the funds wisely, the General squandered it away and we ended up with a broken Nation.

The former President admits that he had made some mistakes during his tenure and claims that the country now needs immediate surgery and because of his past experience, he is the only one who can save this Nation from total collapse.

No doubt, the General still enjoys a degree of understanding and respect with world leaders and his Seven-Point agenda, which he had promised in 99, had been very laudable, but had failed to Walk the Talk and surrounded himself with Court Jesters and Clowns, who played on his ego and soon the deadly ‘Self above all’ virus infected him and he ended up by betraying the Nation. And now, like our past leaders, he wants a second chance.

So dear citizens, keep your seat belts fastened, as the Clash of the Titans seems to be imminent and we are in for another very bumpy ride.

NB: While the world paid glowing tribute to the legendary 40 year old ionic, but humble Indian batsman, Sachin Tendulkar, who has made India proud, the world laughed at our National cricket team, who shamed and humiliated the nation with their dismal and shameful performance in the recent matches against South Africa. But more on our Guli-Danda team next week. 

 n The writer can b reached at trust@helplinetrust.org.