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GEN Musharraf may be trying to take a different route into power politics this time around. But it isn’t easy to forget the way he entered it in the first place. His remarks to the media before he returned to Pakistan were revealing; the former dictator implied he thinks the military should have a formal role in governance. It wasn’t clear exactly what he meant or whether he would limit that role to security matters, but his promise in 1999 to save the country from what he called “sham democracy”, and his decidedly undemocratic actions that followed, means that this comment cannot be easily dismissed. As he campaigns for the polls Gen Musharraf needs to clarify to the public his views on the military’s role in the kind of democracy, as flawed as it may be, that Pakistan is now trying to build. Promises of better governance are all well and good, but in order to be taken seriously as a politician he will have to prove that his views on civil-military relations have changed.

There is also the matter of the court cases pending against him, concerning as they do serious allegations including involvement in the murders of Benazir Bhutto and Akbar Bugti. The judiciary will have to strike a tricky balance here: now that he’s back in the country there is no reason Gen Musharraf should be let off the hook and not have to submit to regular judicial process, but going after him with unnecessary vengeance will only expose the judiciary to suspicions of trying to thwart his election campaign. Military dictators more often than not consider themselves to be more popular than they are, so he is probably in for a bit of a reality check; the relatively low turnout at Karachi’s airport provided some indication of the struggle that lies ahead for the All Pakistan Muslim League. But Gen Musharraf has decided to enter electoral politics, and the court of the people can decide whether or not he is worthy of their vote even as the law takes its normal course.

Comments (20) Closed

vjaiswal35 Mar 26, 2013 06:09am
Dictators can never change. He will always have the attitude and promote the army. 30 years plus trained reactions can never be democratic in nature.
Feroz Mar 26, 2013 06:42am
Pakistan is unique, the only country where such a farce can be pulled off with impunity. Imagine a man implicated in two murder cases against whom arrest warrants were issued. His return is a slap on the face of the Judiciary and the cause of Law and Order.
a.k.lal Mar 26, 2013 06:48am
without america,s permission, generals can,t take over
K G Surendran Mar 26, 2013 07:02am
Gen. Musharraf return will not help the cause of democracy in Pakistan, though he might like to believe that he is the best thing that has happened to the country in recent times. He could do with a big dose of humility when he goes around asking for votes, in a democracy a few minutes with the average voter can be quite demanding and sometimes humiliating for someone used to throwing his weight around.
Immad Mar 26, 2013 09:45am
Every system has an expected output and the need of the system is judged by the output it produces. What democracy, a syatem, has created for Pakistan in last 5 years is clear, unsecurity, economic downslide, poverty, corruption. By the measures of sanity a system producing such an output should be thrown out rather than maintained and defended.
Iqbal Mar 26, 2013 11:49am
Democracy is "for the people", "by the people".... where were "people" during last 5 year's "democratic" Pakistan?
Iftikhar Husain Mar 26, 2013 12:03pm
The editorial is very clear in pointing out the position on ex president. Democracy is different cup of tea than being self appointed president.
Ahmed Mar 26, 2013 12:14pm
He is a fool who got promoted way beyond his level of competence. This has never been so obvious as now when he returns to Pakistan not as a conquering hero he imagined, but as an irrelevant relic from the past. His performance at the airport - talking platitudes, making military salutes - was ludicrous.
Irfan Baloch Mar 26, 2013 12:36pm
WELL WELL WELL now that will be telling they perished due to the application of "Democracy is the best revenge"
Amit-Atlanta-USA Mar 26, 2013 12:40pm
I would put it this way. Withount America's "continued" support, Generals can't last!
Uzair bin Mar 26, 2013 12:44pm
Why are pakistanis obsessed with democracy? Parrots of the west!! Come back to Islam and work to establish an Islamic government.
Mohammad Nazeer Mar 26, 2013 01:13pm
Judiary sholuld not leave this dictator off hook. He should wait for his fate as other dictators like Sadam and Qadafi etc., faced in the past
Syed Ahmed Mar 26, 2013 01:35pm
When "Doodh ka dhulay" politicians can behave like dictators that what is wrong with a dictator turning democrat. He didn't starve the country to death. Wish him success.
Agha Ata (USA) Mar 26, 2013 01:48pm
A little time spent in power can give you a nasty hang over. Look at Bhuttos, and Sharifs.
NINO Mar 26, 2013 03:05pm
I concur with Feroze. It is very sad and very true. But I shall wait to make arrive at my opinion after seeing for a while as to how the government and the judiciary proceed. Feroze must have his own reasons but I feel that he sold the country on a 2-minute call from Colin Powell.
Aamir Mar 26, 2013 05:37pm
Iqbal - who elected the last govt - we the people. So there is nothing wrong with democratic system. Now is the time to pick the right people. If people of Pakistan do not pick the right candidate then you will see even worse situation in future. But if we love our country then we all will pick the good candidate and you will see the result as well.
Fahad Khuwaja Mar 26, 2013 10:53pm
From the looks of it, he is least interested in winning or participating in elections. He just wants a free and safe passage to Pakistan. APML is more like a part of cover up story.
Bbbb Mar 26, 2013 11:10pm
Pakistan is not unique in this aspect, just have a look around. You will find the mirror everywhere.
Md Imran Mar 27, 2013 01:51pm
There is a silent majority in Pakistan that has been calling for an technocratic form of governance in the form of a caliphate built on the tenets of Islam. I dont think there can be a superior form of governance than Islam. Neither dictatorship nor democracy will work in Pakistan.
raja hindustani Mar 27, 2013 05:13pm
so u think democracy is unislamic..???