Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Obituary – Pervez Musharraf, 1999-2008
Pakistan’s former Chief Executive Officer and a friend of George Bush.
[By Mayank Austen Soofi]
Military dictator Pervez Musharraf, a great womaniser, whiskey-drinker, dog lover, bridge player, George Bush's friend, former Chief Executive Officer of Pakistan and lately its President, died or rather his era died on August 18, 2008, aged 9.
In a long drawn-out televised death scene that reminded viewers of Amitabh Bachchan’s last moments in the film Muqaddar ka Sikandar, a moist-eyed Mr Musharraf said, “I am sad that Pakistan is going down fast.”
That could as well be his legacy to the country he describes as “my love.”
Born in the fall of 1999, in a PIA flight somewhere between Karachi and Colombo, Mr Musharraf was a man who could have become Pakistan’s Lee Kwan Yew, the Singapore statesman whom he claims to be very impressed with.
He could have been. In the begining, Mr Mushararf's world was full of possibilities. When he took over the reigns of Pakistan, the country’s economy had collapsed, the corruption had invaded all walks of life, the politicians had jettisoned all pretensions of responsibility, the wealthy had dispatched their children to West, the Shariat was voted as the state law and the nation itself was on the verge of being declared a terrorist state...a failed state.
Lahore’s drawing rooms did not buzz with “Will Taliban come here too” but with – “When will Taliban come here too”.
Amid such tidings, Mr Musharraf’s military takeover was marketed in the world as a feel-good coup. Indeed, there was a sigh of relief in the country. Mr Mushararf talked sense: he promised to punish the wayward politicians, set the economy back in business, re-strengthen the sense of Pakistani identity and then return home to barracks.
But the script went haywire. 9/11 happened. Pakistan’s General became America’s General. Mr Musharraf who should have led his own war against home grown terrorists instead made the great Pakistan army a B-team of George Bush’s happy-to-bomb-anywhere battalion.
The plot only worsened.
Continued army rule. Unrest in Baluchistan. Strange disappearances of people (presumably by ISI). In the Line of Fire, Mr Musharraf’s shameful memoir. Increase in terrorist attacks in the country. The rise of Pakistani Taliban. Finally, the big blot during the dictator’s watch: Ms Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. And the bigger blot: Getting a foreign agency -- Scotland Yard -- to investigate the death of the country's former prime minister.
What could have been more humiliating for any self-respecting Pakistani like Mr Musharraf?
Yet, there are many who might look back upon Musharraf years with a little fondness. It is said that the dictator was better than other dictators, perhaps better than some democratically elected prime ministers too. Pakistanis enjoyed a comparatively free media than they had ever before. There was marked improvement in relations with India. Besides, for nine years, Mr Musharraf single-handedly, with his brash devil-may-care attitude, made Pakistan a household name throughout the world.
In his own fashion, itmustbesaid, the late dictator loved his country. His son, Bilal, was named for a close friend who had died in the 1971 war. But Mr Musharraf won’t be missed.