TO say that the final nail has been hammered into the coffin of the All Pakistan Muslim League, which announced on Friday that it would be boycotting the upcoming elections, might sound a tad too dramatic. With Gen Pervez Musharraf its only noteworthy leader, regardless of the hopes the former military ruler had, the party had never been a political force to begin with — and no one had expected it to grow into one either. While doubt may prevail over whether preventing Gen Musharraf from contesting the elections was the correct course of action — perhaps it may have been better had his confidence been tested in the people’s court — once his nomination papers were rejected, the game was over. The APML, in fact, was not so much cut short as never in the running to begin with.
Many found it surprising that the retired general had so much confidence in his chances of electoral success in the first place. From the PML-Q — the ‘king’s party’ that was his own creation — quietly turning its back on him to the cool reception at his homecoming and the general silence that greeted his efforts to drum up public support, the cards were laid out for Gen Musharraf. The fact is that his role in truncating democracy is far too large a morsel for Pakistan to swallow. Further, the country and its polity appear to have moved on to a place where it is recognised that military interventions are undesirable and attempts are under way to ensure that they don’t happen again. The general’s bid to put himself to the test through the ballot box was well in line with the principles of democracy; but the shadow his earlier misadventure casts is long.