AZAM KHALIL No sensible person ever made an apology- Emerson The categorical state ment of the US Ambassador in Pakistan that the Americans facilitated an honourable exit for General (retd) Pervez Musharraf has come as no surprise to the vast majority of the Pakistani people. This statement has nonetheless punctured the balloon of PML-N which had moved a motion against the president in Parliament demanding that he name the foreign players who had facilitated the arrangement that led to the resignation of Musharraf. It seems that the entire PML-N leadership is afflicted with the Musharraf syndrome and has been unable to forget him, even after a passage of more than one year. Deep down Mr Nawaz Sharif is aware that no one is going to try General Musharraf for violating the constitution because in case such a decision is taken it will create a situation that may be too hot for the present Pakistani administration to handle. It seems that Mian Nawaz Sharif has so far failed to formulate an alternative programme for this country that can help alleviate the suffering of the poor and downtrodden people of Pakistan. At the point in time. PML-N exists in small pockets in some areas of the Punjab while it has scanty political support in the other three provinces. In order to mount a formidable challenge to PPP in the next general elections, whenever they are held, Nawaz Sharif may need another IJI arrangement if he has to see the completion of his dream to capture power once again. Therefore, keeping in view the political realities on the ground the Sharifs have decided to keep on hammering the Musharraf issue just like they were clamouring for the restoration of the superior judiciary so that they can emerge as good pretenders for the throne in Islamabad. On his part General Pervez Musharraf continues to enjoy a high profile image mainly due to the hype created by the local media that faithfully report each and every word that is uttered by the general. Issues are created out of non-issues even, and controversies are drummed up that help keep General Musharraf alive in the Pakistani political scene. Otherwise most of us know that the general has no place in Pakistani politics and all his dreams about returning to Pakistan with the help of political support is nothing but day dreaming. Two of his greatest supporters, MQM and PML-Q, are also wary about accepting/assigning any role to Musharraf in their political parties. In case the retired general tries to form a new political party he is destined to face the same fate that was experienced by General (retd) Aslam Beg. We must analyse why PML-N is accusing PPP of continuing with the policies that were in place during Musharraf's tenure in office. The main and critical reason for this criticism by Nawaz Sharif and his Party is because they desperately want the repeal of the 17th amendment because if that is achieved PML-N will emerge as the main beneficiary. It will then open more political avenues for Mian Nawaz Sharif who will have an opportunity to become the prime minister of the country for the third time in case his party wins the next general elections or emerges as the leading political entity. With no 58-2(b) and the president only a figurehead, it will be worthwhile for Mian Nawaz Sharif to try and capture the job of the prime minister and everyone knows that he is quite capable of political manipulation and horse-trading that can help him achieve this objective. It is only for this purpose that Mian Nawaz Sharif has helped keep the Musharraf saga alive so that they have a whipping boy or a punching bag available that will keep their political fortunes alive. On their part PPP were moving cautiously trying to strengthen the politics of reconciliation and consensus, and have steadfastly been holding onto this concept despite some shrill voices from Jamaat-e-Islami and people like Imran Khan. The present Pakistani administration have so far nearly won the war against terrorism and also to a certain extent stabilised the economic situation in the country. This does not mean that there have been no failures on the part of PPP because as far as the problems of the poor man are concerned they continue to exist and in some cases the situation has sharply deteriorated for them. One must understand that PPP has not been able to provide good governance as was envisioned in the manifesto prepared by their late leader Benazir Bhutto. This is mainly due to the fact that there has been an upheaval within the ranks of the party itself and a new face of PPP has emerged after the death of the charismatic Benazir Bhutto. Both Asif Ali Zardari and Yousuf Raza Gilani have depended heavily on their close associates and have in some cases assigned jobs to people who are neither competent nor efficient enough to discharge the duties assigned to them that match the expectations of the people of this country. They have also failed to distance themselves from the status quo policies and introduce new ideas in the administration that would improve the living standards of the people of this country. Mr Zardari should now evaluate the performance of the federal government and the provincial governments and then in consultation with his political allies introduce reforms that take the country towards the objectives and goals that were set forth in the various programmes of PPP. They should also try to work for a better working relationship with the opposition and in case they receive positive and productive ideas from them they should not feel shy but should embrace them so that they can serve the interest of the country in a better way. It is also time for PPP to ignore all that is being said about Musharraf and try to consign him to history and move on with their own independent programme. It is in the best interest of this country that the atmosphere of reconciliation and political harmony is maintained so that more attention and resources can be diverted to the problems that will help take Pakistan forward improving the living standards of its people. The writer is a freelance columnist. E-mail:zarnatta@hotmail.com