“General Zia”:http://www.storyofpakistan.com/person.asp?perid=P020 (Our last dictator/general) didn’t talk in timeframes, but did also consider himself a godsend for this country. As a wise man once said: “The works of dictators and gods is never finshed.” Still the way the current General is going, he will be stepping further and further away from reality over the next few years.
bq.. LOS ANGELES, June 29: President General Pervez Musharraf on Saturday said he would leave uniform at an “appropriate” time and defended constitutional amendments under the LFO.
Addressing the Pakistani community in the West Coast, the president said he was ready to give up his hat of army chief for the sake of democracy but would not do so because the country needed him.
“I don’t want to bluff so I cannot give you any timeframe,” he said, adding he considered himself someone who had brought harmony to the power structure to check internal tussles.
“The moment I see democracy is strengthening and that assemblies are doing well I will quit from the army chief’s post,” he said.
p. It is only logical to ask, how the hell can democracy be strengthening under martial law? By this reasoning, Musharraf will be around till he dies, or is in turn chucked out by some other general or the other. People will write platitudes about nurturing democracy, and how China has done it, but in the end it boils down to a whole nation based on sycophancy. For when one person controls everything, then the rest must kowtow.
We have a massive sycophancy chain in this country, and the longer this dictatership lasts the more people are going to get used to it. Not that our democrats are any better, mind you, but at least with democracy people fill out tons of forms to get things done and use their contacts, while with generalship you have to go begging to the nearest general to get anything done. By the time Musharraf thinks he’s finished with Pakistan, the whole population after years of sitting around thanking the general for all his good work will no longer be able to do much else. Already, almost every day the newspapers are full of advertisements congraluting the good general for something or the other.
In a democracy the citizens are the key to getting things accomplished. If you want to educate the country you would think we need the population involved in the effort to do so. In Pakistan, we have the army doing everything, and I mean everything for us. They go to school for us, run all our institutions, make sure we vote right, represent us abroad without any annoying civilians in the way, they even take all the cushy jobs.
*Update September 15 2004:* The good General had promised to hang up his uniform for good come December. After much see-sawing back and forth, Musharraf comes out with it:
bq. Pervez Musharraf is to stay on both as president of Pakistan and head of its armed forces despite a pledge to stand down as army leader by January. “The national situation demands he keeps the two offices,” Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said.
>> ‘BBC: Musharraf backtracks on army post’:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3660256.stm
Sometime’s it takes a leap of faith to let go… and that’s not going to happen in this country. Considering the politicians Musharraf has let loose on the country, including numerous criminals on the NAB list, bank defaulters, and a whole lot of other very unsavoury characters including so called islamic parties it’s actually a good thing he’s keeping the uniform a bit longer. It’s actually a bit harsh saying Mush let these chaps loose as they’ve been there forever now, but he promised to rein them in and then procceded to do nothing concrete about it.
bq. The decision will anger hardline Islamic parties in Pakistan, analysts predict.
The sad part is that they’re only going to get stronger.
bq. Analysts say the president may feel his real source of strength lies in commanding the military.
Now, these analysts are really turning on the brainpower here.
_cartoon from the Sept 12 issue of Dawn._
bq. It would be funny if the fate of 160 million Pakistanis did not depend on it. I grew up hearing General Zia talking about justifying every stupid act of his on Islam and the nation. Now, it is Musharraf�s turn.
>> ‘National Interest = Narcissism’:http://www.zackvision.com/weblog/archives/entry/000918.html
New York Times ‘interview’:http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/20/international/middleeast/21NATION.html with Musharraf on Sep 20:
bq. “Yes, I did give my word that I would,” he said of his promise to serve only as the country’s civilian president after Dec. 31, 2004 in a step viewed as fulfilling his larger promise to return Pakistan to democratic rule. “But the issue is now far greater than this.”
So it stands. The alternatives to Musharraf are so dismal that at the end of the day he is the best option. In a better world Musharraf might have recognized that, and at the end of his five years ran for elections. He would have won too. But he’s kept the same old political system, and in many ways has taken it to new lows by inducting the mullahs and keeping the same old tired has-beens around and so on. I see a good man doing his best, and he’s doing good, but in the long term a few percentage points of growth here and there won’t matter so much as the mess there’ll be left behind. The problem with these ‘strong men’ is that once they leave there’s a vaccum left behind which can only be filled by yet another strong man. Musharraf has now passed the point where he could have fixed the system, as was one of his most fervent claims back in the days of the fiery speeches. Ironically, his gestures towards democracy which further weakened it… to the point where he is now truly the only choice.
fn1. These so called islamic parties would take this country as close as they can to their taliban ideal. Going by their speeches on tv and their parliamentry demands, they got stuck in a time warp a thousand years ago and haven’t even quite grasped that time era yet, let alone the present.