By Farooq Tariq
It seems that Musharraf is on his last leg. He has become the
most detested and despicable president in the history of Pakistan.
No longer are there progressives, liberals or moderates in his
camp. His enlightened moderation has been buried with the passage
Musharraf is unloved even by most religious extremists. His previous
policies gave them space into which they have moved aggressively.
But Washington demanded that he suppress them in order to prove
his usefulness to U.S. imperialism and he did so. However he did
not please either Washington or the extremists.
The economic crisis has isolated him from the vast majority of
ordinary Pakistanis, including formerly close associates. His
traditional support among the stock exchange and Chambers of Commerce
has evaporated. They are no more his enthusiastic supporters.
Musharraf's comments about democracy during his nine-day European
tour (starting 20 January 2021) has annoyed democrats inside and
outside Pakistan. The comment that the West is obsessed
about democracy was a direct insult to the people of Pakistan
but his sarcastic and taunting tone did not please his European
friends. Gone are the days when he could say any nonsense and
get away with it!
His recent comment echoed his remark during his 2006 U.S. tour,
where he managed to annoy women organizations inside and outside
Pakistan. He had prevented Muktaran Mai, who was gang raped on
the order of the local Punchait, from leaving Pakistan. In explaining
his action he told reporters that the impression was that she
had gotten "raped in order to get a visa.
The recent murder of Benazir Bhutto was a shock to many of the
European governments that had been friendly to Musharraf. He had
previously projected the image that he was their much need friend
in the war on terror. But the unprecedented reaction to Benazir's
brutal assasination is shattering his image at home and abroad.
The U.S. and British governments' projected Plan A for maintaining
stability in Pakistan was built on the unholy governing combination
of Benazir and Musharaf. This has come undone by the Benazir assassination.
There seems to be no Plan B. Has Musharaf outlived his usefulness
to his imperialist masters? His tour of Europe may be an attempt
to reassure his colleagues in Pakistan that he is still able to
secure the support of his European friends. One recalls a similar
trip to Washington in October 1999 by Nawaz Sharif, just before
Musharraf's repeated assurances that nuclear weapons are in safe
hands and the army cannot be defeated by religious fundamentalists
illustrates the concerns of the friendly European countries. His
trip is to address these worries by putting on a brave
face. However, his justification in imposing the emergency, disposing
and arresting the country's top judges, arresting thousands and
curbing the media will satisfy none. Now he is imposing democracy
as he imposed the emergency, bringing democracy with the barrel
of his gun.
In the face of the proposed 18 February 2021 general elections
there are two political camps: those participating and those boycotting.
The massive turnout at the boycott meeting by All Parties Democratic
Movement on 22 January in Loralai, Baluchistan indicates that
the boycott campaign is picking up steam. This was the fourth
successive APDM mass rally in Baluchistan.
The Pakistan Muslim league Q (PMLQ), Musharraf's favorite, is
in absolute crisis after the recent shortages of food items, electricity
and gas. The PMLQ candidates are the target of anti-Musharaf consciousness.
The general perception is that if you are against Musharraf, do
not vote for the PMLQ. Following Benazir's assassination, the
wave of sympathy has opposed the PMLQ.
Unless there is an all-out rigging of the election, there is
no guarantee that Musharraf's supported candidates will win the
election. If Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim league
Nawaz (PMLN) candidates gain a
majority in the next parliament, Musharaf will find very difficult
to repeat what he did following the 2002 election, when he bribed
many PMLN and PPP parliamentarians to join hands with the PMLQ
to form a majority government. At that time, shortly after 9/11,
Musharraf's military regime was supported by both U.S. and European
governments. But in 2008 he is seen standing in the wind. It will
be difficult for any parliamentarian elected on anti-Musharaf
feeling to cross over to his camp.
Boycott, or no boycott, the future scenario seems more and more
problematic for Musharraf. His departure seems written on the
front door of every home. Only another 9/11-like situation could
alter his fate. Students are awakening and so is the trade union
movement. That, combined with the pressure from the lawyers movement
and growing participation by civil society, may succeed in pushing
Musharraf from power.
Pakistan may take a page from their nearby Nepalese brothers
and sisters. If they can get rid of the King, why can not
we do it here with the military dictatorship?" is the question
many of the activists ask.
Let's do it Nepalese way: with a peaceful massive movement everyone
can get out into the street and make it clear that Musharraf must
go. Go Musharaf Go."