The rise and fall of Gen. Musharraf can be compared to that of the great leaders, who reached for the stars, basked in their light for some time and then came tumbling down.

When Gen. Musharaf landed in the city of Karachi, his loyal troops were there to welcome their hero and like Julius Caesar, he came, he saw and he conquered. The Gods had handed the reigns of this limping and bruised country to him without a battle or bloodshed.

His inspirational speech to the nation and his 7-point agenda rekindled the dying candle of hope in the country and his first three successful years in power, promised us a glorious and bright future.    

We believed his promises of change and accountability and the course that he set in the early years and his slogan of, ‘Country Above All, convinced most of us, that we had finally found a leader who would put the country on the right track.

His bold U-turns after 9/11 and his stand on war against terror, won him International support and world leaders were literally falling over each other to just shake his hands. Financial assistance poured into our coffers and the future looked bright.

But in the process, he sold his soul to the devil and things began to change. He was pressurized by our ‘Allies” to legitimize his leadership by shedding off his army uniform and introducing the democratic process in the country, by holding elections.

To be able to fulfill the shrill demands to hold free, fair and transparent elections, he had to open the doors for the late Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif to return to Pakistan and participate in the elections, hence the NRO.

And in order to win the elections, he had to ‘compromise and make deals’ with the corrupt, self above all politicians who he had chastised when he took over, compromised accountability, discarded his 7-point agenda and launched his political campaign. And this was the beginning of the downfall of the General.

The crisp army uniform was replaced by funny costumes and pagrees and in due course, the General was also infected with the Self Above All virus. He began to take irrational and foolish decisions to stay in power, which, in the end, forced him to take suicidal and self-destructive actions.

He won the controversial elections with a ‘thumping majority’, but the results unleashed riots and strikes across the country and finally, to curb the violence, the General was forced to declare an Emergency on November, 2007 and suspend the Constitution of Pakistan.

Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had immediately swung into action and declared the emergency unconstitutional and directed the armed forces of Pakistan not to obey any illegal orders.

Subsequently, the General sacked the CJ and ordered the 111th Brigade enter the Supreme Court building and physically remove the JC and other judges from the SC building and arrest them. The General also muzzled the independent print and electronic media, which he had initiated and finally, declared an emergency.

However, due to the growing public agitation, on November 28, the General was forced to lift the State of Emergency and fresh elections were scheduled to be held in early January 2008. However, due to the tragic assassination of Mohtarma Benazir, they had to be postponed and were finally held on February 18, 2008.

And instead of remaining a General, he changed course and became a member of our ‘Corrupt Politicians Club’ and tried to become a political leader’. The vultures and the wolves saw the chink in his armour and started chipping away at his protective shield and one blunder followed another.

His seven-point agenda, including accountability of the corrupt, was thrown into the dustbin and over time, his ‘Country Above All’ turned to the usual ‘Self Above All’ and his compromises and adjustments replaced the Rule of Law and accountability. Finally, a stage came when reality was replaced by a mirage and he lost touch with the truth.

The country once again, lurched from one crisis to another and within eight years, the former general lost the adulation and support of his admirers, both at home and abroad and from hero, his popularity graph dropped to zero.

The chant of ‘Go Musharraf Go’ grew louder and finally, on Judgment Day, he had no choice but to bow to the will of the Awam and in the ‘larger interest of Pakistan’, was forced to resign and with the words, ‘Pakistan ka Khudahafiz’, went into self-exile.

The General may not be guilty of financial corruption, but his thirst and need for absolute power, corrupted his ability to take rational decisions and in the end, was his undoing.

Now, after five years, in spite of serious charges of murder and treason, he claims that he has returned to save Pakistan from the very mess he had created.

Today, the all-powerful General, whose symbol of strength was his clenched fist, stands in front of the same judges, hat in hand, whom he had humiliated on the world stage and is being tried for treason. As they say, what goes around comes around.

However, to be fair, Musharraf was not the usual, ruthless, run of the mill dictator, but a progressive enlightened man, who, if he had remained a General, stuck to his 7-point agenda and like General Ataturk of Turkey, across the board accountability and enforced the rule of law with a zero tolerance policy, then he would have transformed this country into a modern, progressive Nation.

If the General wants to win back the hearts and minds of the citizens of Pakistan, then, irrespective of the court verdict, he should apologize to the members of the Honorable Judges he had humiliated and to the nation for his sins of omission and commission and ask for forgiveness. This would be the honorable thing to do, for a former President, COAS and a commando.

  The tragic tale of the rise and fall of the General is a classic example of how power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

May God save Pakistan from the Self Above All power hungry men.  – trust@helplinetrust.org