Goodbye General!

CURTAIN has finally come down on the nine-year long rule of President Pervez Musharraf. The irrepressible fighter that the former army commando has always been did not leave without a long, hard and bitter fight though.

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Published: Tue 19 Aug 2008, 9:27 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:55 PM

Which is a pity. Because in his desperation to remain in power, the General ended up undoing his own formidable legacy and all that he had done and achieved for Pakistan. Unlike the past military rulers of Pakistan, Musharraf did not acquire power by force. Rather, it was thrust upon him thanks to the highhandedness of the political leadership of the time.

Nevertheless, making the best of his unusual circumstances, Musharraf went to work on the unprecedented challenges facing the country at the time. From cleaning the all-pervasive corruption in public life to reviving the economy and from freeing the media to improving relations with India, the General's record has been highly impressive. Ties with India had been at their exemplary best during the past few years. Even on democracy front, the General did much more for strengthening grass roots democratic institutions than the successive politicians ever did.

Unfortunately, if anyone is responsible for undermining this enviable legacy of President Pervez Musharraf, it's the General himself. They say power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Which had been largely true in the General's case. When he took over after the 1999 coup, he had promised to leave as soon as possible. Then came the deadline of 2005 after which he promised he'd remove his uniform.

In return, he wanted to be elected as a civilian president. Last year, he finally removed the uniform only after having himself 'elected' in a manner that scandalised the whole country even as it was overlooked by his friends in the West. When the ground under his feet began shaking, he imposed the infamous Emergency, throwing hundreds of politicians and civil society activists in prison and cracking down on the media that he himself helped come into being. Again this is why he summarily sacked and put the Supreme Court chief justice and judges of provincial courts under house arrest after they refused to take oath on the 'provisional constitution' approving the Emergency.

He saw an independent judiciary, especially chief justice Iftekhar Chaudhry, as a threat to his so-called 'election' and continuation in power. Now that attack on the judiciary has proved the fatal flaw in our hero. What happens now? It's not certainly going to be a smooth ride for the coalition of Sharif and Zardari. With Musharraf gone, attention will now shift to more immediate and critical issues such as the economy, shooting inflation and unprecedented law and order situation in the country. The politicians will have to deliver now. And if they fail, they will have no one to blame!

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