There certainly seems to be more about Pervez Musharraf now in the media than there was in the immediate aftermath of his abject resignation on August 18.
Three months after the retired General Pervez Musharraf had to quit as President, speculation continues on the sidelines of Pakistan’s main political stage about his possible political plans.
Pakistani newspapers gave some importance to a recent meeting between Gen. Musharraf and leaders of the party he specially created while he was in power to act as his political buffer, the Pakistan Muslim League (Q). Party president Chaudhary Shujat Hussain, his cousin Chaudhary Pervez Elahi, and some other members decided to pay their former boss a visit at the Army House, where he continues to live — the Rawalpindi colonial bungalow is the official residence of the Army chief — as he awaits the completion of his plush retirement farmhouse in Islamabad’s suburbia.
They called on him apparently to find out from the horse’s mouth about the vigorous attempts to unseat them from the party leadership. Defeated in the February 2008 elections, the party has been wondering what to do with itself. One faction wants the ousted Gen. Musharraf to take over the reins from the badly discredited and unpopular Shujat-Pervez duo, convinced that he is not as badly off as they are in the popularity stakes and continues to have supporters in the country. The Chaudharys themselves are said to be convinced that this faction has not just the blessings of the old soldier but also takes instructions from him on next steps.
More than one version
There is more than one version of what went on at the meeting between them and Gen. Musharraf. According to one report, the former military ruler told the Chaudhary cousins in “clear words” that he was not interested in politics at the moment. He wanted to devote time to his family, according to one report, and he had thrown himself into reading, tennis and bridge.
He advised the PML(Q) not to break up in squabbles, and to stay united in order to stand up to the challenges that face it. He is also said to have expressed “dismay” at the economic situation and asked the Chaudhary brothers to put their shoulder to the wheel and do what they could to help Pakistan at this juncture. The juicier version is that the cousins showed him a red card for trying to have them ejected from the leadership and told him to desist from doing so. Several politicians were demanding that he be charged with treason, and they would be forced to lend their voices to this demand if he continued with his efforts against them, they warned him.
In this version, Gen. Musharraf told them that he had no political ambitions, but several important members of the party were repeatedly telling him that the time was ripe for him to take over the party and give it direction as people were already fed up with President Asif Ali Zardari and the Pakistan People’s Party government.
Whether or not there is any truth in these reports, there certainly seems to be more about Gen. Musharraf now in the media than there was in the immediate aftermath of his abject resignation on August 18 as it became clear that it was the only way out for him to avoid an impeachment. Then, it was as if a tap had been turned off. From making the headlines every day with one statement or another, there was a deafening silence from his end.
Certainly, his name continued to appear with regularity in the media as politicians and pundits heaped abuse on him for the economic shambles, the internal security mess-up and for everything else that had gone wrong in the country. But there was nothing from him, either in his defence or about his views on the new government. He has still not come out openly, and going by the reports, speaks only through unnamed “sources.”
Hard to repress
A politician ousted in elections is hard to repress, and within no time is out there, trying to reclaim face time on television or column inches in the newspapers. Gen. Musharraf loves speaking his mind but the rules are different for ousted military rulers. Silence was possibly part of the deal said to have been brokered on his behalf by the Army with the government, the terms of which are not in the public realm and may never be.
The deal has obviously allowed him to remain in the country, and possibly ensured that he will not be tried as is being demanded, mainly by Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan Muslim League (N). But it is also clear that Gen. Musharraf has not ceased to exist. And the silence part of the deal may be about to end if it is true — as one television channel reported on Sunday — that he is setting off to Europe next week on a speaking tour.
6 months ago