Make me a useful President! and other stories…

10 03 2009

I wonder what went through his mind, when General Musharraf laid out his “useful contribution – useless president” appeal to the media. I have not seen his video but reading his comments I would be surprised if the general was not smoking the best quality weed freshly imported from Afghanistan.

The comments betray a certain degree of anguish for the great travesty of justice that he had to endure, when he was asked not so politely with all concerned to step down and reinstate democracy or face consequences of the junta uprising. But the comments also betray not a small amount of ridiculousness and senility.

That his assertions and aspirations are in such contrast to his actual position of non-existence in public imagination, paints a man who is intoxicated by power. And power only ever breeds greed for more power.

Not only that Musharraf does not realise that his moment is now past, the point is lost to Musharraf that he is the one who is responsible to take over a country from corrupt but still functional political system and deliver it to the door marked failed state. Pakistan was no paradise under Nawaz Shareef but at least it was a working system. A system no doubt under pressure of a stagnant economy, dependent on aids and subsidised imports, but still essentially supporting a country and making sure it stood on its own two feet.

Musharraf changed it all and you have to look at Pakistan to see how things can go so horribly wrong in a short span of 8 – 9 years. Pakistan not unlike India, have mostly non-qualified men with limited vision as the leaders of their union. However, despite the plurality of the Indian government, we have at least always had a true statesman as Prime Minister who have endeavoured to do justice to his / her designation.

Manmohan Singh – the professor with impeccable track record.
Vajpayee – the quintessential administrator and an orator par excellence.

Even when BJP and Congress were not in power, we had people like IK Gujral, who if anything was at least diplomat with an absolute clean billing. PV Narsimha Rao, despite of all his tainted image, can take part of the praise for putting the wheels in motion for the Indian Economic revolution. Only person in recent past that did not impress would have to be HD Devegowda, and he wasn’t allowed too long on the job, was he?

Now compare this with the Pakistani current crop of leaders.

Asif Zardari – a backdoor powerbroker who wants to be seen as a patriarchal messiah who can deliver prosperity to Pakistan. Only one problem, he ain’t no Caeser. In fact, he is more like Nero playing fiddle as Rome burns. And nothing more could have been expected from someone who till death of his wife was a truly marginal figure only to be thrust to national prominence, and sure as hell it wasn’t by design. Zardari continues playing political games to cement his hold, but he would do well to remember that the tighter he tries to grip the Presidential seat, the closer he comes to face the same fate that his father-in-law faced when General Zia took over.

Zardari can be proud of the fact that in less than 12 months of his rule he has created the most perfect conditions for Kayani to take his (apparently) rightful place on the throne of Pakistan. Musharraf rule had eroded much of that mythic credibility of the army rule and it was impossible to imagine another Army takeover any time soon. I am sure the sorcerer Zardari believes in that daisy saying “Impossible says I’m possible!”. Look he made the unimaginable materialize. Huh! But then what else could you expect from a dubious middleman, with all the experience of a broker stringing together those dirty deals?

Nawaz Shareef – a pompous self-appointed leading light of Pakistan, with a piss poor track record of ineffective leadership to boot. He is far from a statesman you would want representing your country. This is the same guy who was shopping abroad as Kargil was underway. Sharif has built a substantial empire from his time as the head of state and he is back for more, waiting in the wings for his opportunity to lay his hands on the official pie.

Musharraf himself is no angel.

All of them when given / taken power have had a single point agenda of centralising power so that they may extend their dictatorial reigns. In Pakistan, even the democratically elected government is no different from a Musharraf or Zia ul Haq. It comes as little surprise then that Pakistan is a country where the powers that may be, are hell bent about manually overriding the ignition fuse to hasten the implosion, just to see if the bang would make a more genial environment for them to rule.

Back to the General, he said and I quote:

“If I am offered the post of President and if I can be a useful President…then I will want to contribute to this country,” Musharraf said.

Addressing a news conference here on his return from a four-day visit to India, Musharraf however made it clear that he did not “want to be a useless President“.

Its funny if you read these statements. What could he possibly mean by a useful President and useless president? I mean to me it sounds that there are others responsible for making him useful or useless. A man who ruled with unlimited power and with scant regard to not only letter of the law but also to the citizens of his country, now apparently wants or expects to suddenly be made a useful president! And who would make him a useful president? Does he want the local and world media to describe him as the saviour of all things pure and good? It would be good to get a definition and a lesson on usefulness from a man who ran his country to the ground and given another chance would erase it from the name of World Map. And while he achieves all this he would also find enough time to train his envied gaze east and scheme how to export some of his baggage of woes to India.

One thing I am sure of though is Kayani wouldn’t be too impressed by Musharraf. Musharraf would have already been asked by the brass to enjoy his retirement, else they would be happy to send him help for his transition to the afterlife.

“I am not joining any political party. In the current environment, I have no intention of joining politics. Frankly, I haven’t given any serious thought to joining politics,” he said in response to another question.

I bet he wouldn’t. It would come as a surprise if his sorry self has done enough to get his better-half’s vote.

Musharraf also said the people of Pakistan should support the Army and the ISI and strengthen them.

Haha! We have this saying in Hindi “Bandar kitna bhi booddha kyon na ho jaye, gulaati maarna nahi bhoolta” (regardless of his age, a monkey can never forget the fine art of gymnastics). Mr. Musharraf, that wasn’t too surprising now, was it?

Half of Pakistan’s problems have ever stemmed out from that hugely disproportionate defense services that you maintain. ISI is the single biggest reason why you are in the crappy state of affairs you are in. Defense spending is single biggest reason for your economy being unattractive and stagnating, which in turn makes the whole environment non-business conducive. Its good to be proud of your defense services, but Pakistan army has really taken a whole nation for a ride and they need their support to continue fleecing them. The thought must be very ingratiating I must say.

Swindled by polity for personal gains, deceived by the Army for self-serving agendas, pounded by an apparent friendly ally, eaten out from within by extremists who have long since erased that huge line that separated friends from foe, I just wonder where is the solution for all of this misery?

Its becoming a clichéd line – “an unstable Pakistan means a very real and dangerous problem for India”, but if ever it was more true. I really hope there is a way back from the brink for Pakistan.