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Friday, January 13, 2012

When The Tables Turn

Original Article: Daily Times
Published:  Jan 12, 2012

One can only imagine what kind of emotions our ex-Commando-cum-’self-made’ former President Musharraf may be going through. When Karachi was burning on May 12, 2007, he was addressing a huge crowd of a ‘rent-a-rally’ in Islamabad. He was the king, and his men were around him. Recently, he was addressing perhaps another rally in Karachi, almost sequestered and completely out of touch in Dubai. The crowd was almost non-existent and his message was stale and hollow. The fall can be painful, extremely painful, no question about it.

His bloodless and illegal coup, unseating an elected prime minister, is another subject for another day. Very few would deny that his action was a major blow to the country’s democracy. Yes we are truly an upside down country. People celebrated his illegal act on the streets and looked at the new General, ‘chosen by the Divine’, with a sense of relief. The folks who ridicule the politicians for not fulfilling their campaign promises ought to revisit the newspaper archives that are readily available on line. What promises did our enlightened General make upon hijacking an elected government and what was he able to fulfil.

There is an age old Urdu saying, “Badalta hai rang kaisey kaisey” (the sky goes through many shades), which aptly fits here. Today the same president, who the ‘Yes Men’ looked up to literally, is almost an untouchable by his former cronies. It all depended on the power that he was able to wield at one point. Today he is toothless and powerless, dependent on some who he obliged at one point to lend him some support. A lifeline if you will to survive. Yes, power grabbed by force can be intoxicating and addictive. Once you lose it, there is a void that you strive to fulfil at any cost. It is not wealth, I guess. The former General may have plenty of it — it is the power that no amount of wealth can buy for him now.

It was like yesterday when the ex-General was signing the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) and laying the foundation of a new chapter of reconciliation. Today he has a plethora of cases against him and he is perhaps scrambling to get his SOS messages across to his former friends back home. It is all about power that sometimes misleads you. Sometimes you go astray with the feeling that ‘you are it’ and everything and everyone else is beneath you. But suddenly someone up there pulls the rug from under your feet. You may have worldly things around you, you may have riches tucked away all over the world, but respect, if you lose it once, is hard to regain.

People think that it is the honourable judiciary that brought the former General down. With utmost respect to that branch of this nation, I very respectfully disagree. The same honourable judiciary endorsed his immoral, illegal coup, under the age-old, time-tested, extremely hollow ‘Doctrine of Necessity’. It would have been business as usual, even today, had Musharraf not infringed in the territory of the Lordships. Only when one of their own was sacked, the bench finally abstained from their deep slumber of decades. Yes we hear the thundering noise from the bench that ‘illegal coups’ will not be tolerated any more. My humble and utterly respectful question is, was a ‘coup’ ever legal to begin with? What was the dire necessity that enabled Generals Ayub, Yahya, Zia or Musharraf to trash the will of the people? Why were the Lordships not honest to their own oath and profession? Only and if only the bench would have nullified these illegal acts at those moments, Pakistan would be a much stronger nation.

Speaking of accountability, why is it that it is only reserved for the politicians? Is it not fair if institutions, which consider themselves essential and integral, open themselves up for accountability? People are often disgruntled and show very little respect for politicians. The politicians are termed as plunderers, thieves, crooks and what have you. Fair enough, they share the blame. But have the politicians truly ruled this nation for 64 years all the way? If not, then the ones who have ought to present themselves for scrutiny as well. We can only get stronger if we rectify all the historical wrongs, starting from 1947 onwards.

Getting back to our dear Mr Musharraf, the former king. What a rude awakening for him. There was a time when urban yuppies were flocking his Facebook and Twitter pages. His followers were singing his praises. The numbers were staggering and he was gloating. Today, they have found a new hero. A new Trojan horse, so to speak. Musharraf is a relic of the past for them, a passing fad. He is not cool, hip and suave like ‘Kaptaan’ (captain).

Another revelation is Mr Musharraf’s plan to run from Chitral of all places. No offence, but how many years has Mr Musharraf spent in that hilly area? Is it because he cannot garner enough support and votes to become an MNA from an urban constituency? One can wish him luck on his new endeavour. A humble note to the incumbents: let him come and let him run because giving him a taste of his own medicine would be undemocratic. As far as the cases against him are concerned, let the bench live up to their promise. The force up there is the biggest judge of all. No one ever evades His justice. Never has, never will.

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