IF the military narrative on its intermittent and sporadic interventions is to be believed, President Asif Ali Zardari deserves a big thank from the nation for not letting the generals loose. Okay, I exaggerate.

I think the last five years are more a testament to Gen Ashfaq Kayani’s patience than to the patience of the nation.

Amid Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf’s return, stark comparisons are being drawn between now and the country five years ago. The general’s economy is being remembered with fondness and while there is some truth to that nostalgia, what is being overlooked is the fact that all nations start their political journey from the same abysmal conditions.

America did this, so did the British before them and currently it is being undertaken by Arabs.

For Pakistanis, the last five years were a bitter pill that had to be swallowed to get the wheels of democracy turning. Why this is important is because all dictatorships are concerned with the time of the dictator’s rule. Foresight and depth of vision are usually found lacking, while institutions are destroyed to strengthen the existence of one person to legitimise power.

This is exactly why after Musharraf’s excellent economic turnaround, our choices were the same old faces of Zardari and Sharif. On the other hand, after the last five hopeless and dismal democratic years, we have Imran Khan as the third option. And, hopefully after him, we will have someone even better, maybe even Musharraf.

For this, both the nation and Gen Kayani, deserve a round of applause.


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