There is a new political party ready to jump into the tumultuous political arena of Pakistan. It is nomenclatured “All Pakistan Muslim League” and is to be led by Pakistan’s former president Pervez Musharraf, now residing in London for a break. Dubai is the venue where off and on, he meets his supporters and fans who believe sincerely or wistfully that he is the one in the prevailing chaotic circumstances to act as a redeemer and a kind of reborn Messiah for the distressed people of Pakistan.
Aside, his heftily paid lectures that he delivers in various cities of the United States, and elsewhere, he is vigorously busy in finalizing the manifesto of his upcoming party that he intends to launch in the near future. In Dallas city of United States, he will launch his party’s chapter on October 15. The members from Quaid-e- Azam Muslim League party that he headed while he was the president, meet him in Dubai and in London for consultations and to show solidarity with him.
In Dallas, a group named “Friends of Pakistan-First” is frantically busy in finalizing arrangements in anticipation of Pervez Musharraf’s visit to Dallas. Already there is some kind of hectic canvassing going in the leading cities of America for raising membership and building sizeable support for former president’s party. Recently his close, diehard companion and confidant Dr. Nasim Ashraf chaired a meeting in Dallas to formally kick off the anticipatory interaction with Musharraf’s supporters and sympathizers. He seemed to be quite jubilant with his deliberations in this one of the leading metropolises of the United States.
A close source of the erstwhile president of Pakistan revealed that the party would be launched after the month of Ramadan perhaps with headquarters in London. He would be yet another Pakistani political leader besides MQM’s Altaf Hussain to steer his party from London. However, the difference between Altaf Hussain and Musharraf is that while the former has no plans to return to Pakistan so soon, the latter is throwing hints to be in Pakistan sometime next year.
According to reliable sources although Pervez Musharraf was eager to shuttle between London and Pakistan, yet he cannot venture going right now because of the formidable challenges and grave risks exposed to him. There is a lurking danger to his life from religious radical militants and from the Baluch avengers of Akbar Bugti’s assassination ascribed to Pervez Musharraf. Additionally he might be trapped into a maze of legal proceedings on issues such as storming of the Islamabad’s so-called Red Mosque in which scores of the resident female students were killed in the army action.
He might be tried for suspending constitution and imposing emergency in November 2007. As such, he has a plethora of threats to his life during his stay in Pakistan. Nevertheless, Dr Nasim Ashraf told Musharraf’s adherents in Dallas that his boss was firmly resolved to stage a comeback in Pakistan notwithstanding the impending pitfalls in his way and the possible dangers to his life and political career. He is determined to fight out the cases against him on moral and legal turfs and establish that whatever decisions he took as head of the state were in right earnest and in the best interests of Pakistan.
One such decision of far reaching import was to align Pakistan with America to wage war on the religious fanatics and the anti-American insurgents. In addition, he will have to justify for handing over high value suspects both Pakistanis and non -Pakistanis belonging to Al-Qaida to the United States for bounty money.
In case he lands in Pakistan the ruling PPP may still have some soft corner for him. However, Musharraf’s arch antagonist Nawaz Sharif and his party may not allow him having a smooth sailing in the turbulent waters of Pakistan. While there is a possibility that PPP may finally desire a coalition with APML (Musharraf) the Nawaz group may institute and pursue legal battle with him.
As such, the advent of Musharraf into Pakistani politics may not be as smooth as he and his party cadres might be expecting. Even Pervez Musharraf may himself be direly aware of the foreseen and unforeseen obstacles he may be facing, because politics is always unpredictable and a thorny course to embark upon. Had Musharraf been exiled or ousted because of a revolutionary movement, a la Imam Khomeini, he would have simply come and ridden over the crest of a popular wave. But he faces an entirely reverse situation and it might take him quite some time before he can feel secure to pursue his political ambitions.
No doubt in comparison a segment of population prefers Musharraf era over the ongoing democratic set up, as in the present times, the problems of people have not only compounded but the government has proven itself to be dysfunctional, incompetent or uncaring to address those problems. On one side, the people of Pakistan are steeped into a prolonged nightmare of countless soci civic problems, on the other, the government echelons from top to bottom are hell bent to prove themselves as corrupt and inefficient. They are stubbornly unconcerned of the degeneration, the country is drifting into. There is a wide gap of credibility between the rulers and the masses.
In the wake of such a frightening spectacle, a person like Musharraf can be looked upon as lesser evil or a person who did not allow his government to exceed limits as to be reaching a stage of virtual breakdown. His only sin was that he was placed into the throne of power by a mix of mysterious and sudden circumstantces that he could not even predict a day earlier. Ziaul Haq’s case was different. He came to power through a combined conspiracy of internal and external forces. Musharraf was the luckiest one that a calamity turned overnight into a blessing. Thereafter he followed the course that is typical to all dictators.
Although presently the manifesto of APML is being compiled, the principle thrust according to sources close to former president would be to unite all the factions of Muslim League under one banner. This would understandably preclude Nawaz faction. But as nothing is final in politics, maybe in the longer run, there is a change of hearts on both the sides and they join hands to merge as a strong monolithic entity. If such a development happens, it would facilitate the two party system, a healthy prelude to a genuine parliamentary system of government in Pakistan.
(The writer is a freelance journalist writing mostly on International Affairs with specific focus on Pakistan)