There must be something common between Shahid Afridi and retired generalissimo Pervez Musharraf. They both tend to believe in their indispensability for Pakistan although, as we have conclusively seen, that is an exaggeration in the extreme.
While Afridi’s war of terror — assuming that it has anything to do with the blade — has long ceased to be a regular affair, Musharraf is still delusional, which is why he gives us to believe that he can have a second innings to wage the war on terror that continues to terrorize us long after he first said yes to Colin Powell’s buzz in 2001 and left shaking his head in despair at how only God could look after Pakistan (remember the telly resignation signed off with a curt Pakistan ka Khuda hi hafiz in 2008?).
But Mush is back in la-la land and one suspects he will soon find out how much Pakistan has changed since he scurried through the departure lounge and into self-imposed exile in 2008.
The nature of exile itself makes for a profound recollection. Even though Musharraf lived in relative luxury dividing his time between Dubai and London and working the lecture circuit, it must have provided some reflection on how he had forced Benazir and Sharif to endure similar homesickness.
Even the footage surrounding Musharraf’s departure from Dubai for Karachi had an eerie sense of déjà vu about it: like Benazir, he, too, had an imam zamin (talisman) wrapped around his arm as Sehba saw him off (in Benazir’s case, it was Zardari). Like BB, Musharraf, too, faces death threats and both complained of lack of adequate security.
But of course, there the similarity ends. While Benazir was the leader of the country’s largest political party, Musharraf will be hard pressed to even secure a seat for himself — provided he miraculously crosses the Rubicon of eligibility.
The case of the shoe being on the other foot is also manifest in how Musharraf has had to seek the intercession of the Saudis for a ‘Sharif-spared’ arrival and campaign. Five years ago, it was the other way round.
While there is a lot of uncertainty hanging over the retired general’s fate — a slew of cases including former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s assassination and the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti, abrogation of the constitution and imposition of Emergency as well as Lal Masjid operation are awaiting resolution — what is certain is that he will make a great copy, or in electronic media parlance, byte.
Here, too, there is profound irony at work. While the dictator may have lost the legion of his erstwhile minions — including some who earned notoriety for swearing to elect him ten times in uniform if they had to — the media that he so disdainfully dismissed in power as ‘troublemakers’
besides taking the private TV news channels off air will be his go-to medium for survival.
Having said that it will do democracy a lot of good if the former strongman learns the ropes and takes lessons in humility which he is sure to find aplenty in the days and weeks ahead.
If he comes through and somehow manages to file a nomination and even win a seat for himself that would probably be a good reinforcement of democracy being the best revenge.
— Kamran Rehmat