No return ticket for Musharraf to Pakistan?

General Pervez Musharraf is essentially day-dreaming when he says he’d be back in Pakistan before the 2013 elections. Another figment of his fantasy is the claim to joining active politics to “set things right” in the country hurtling from one crisis to another.

The elections in Pakistan will be contested on issues many of which germinated when Musharraf was in the saddle: the national reconciliation ordinance extending amnesty to corrupt politicos and bureaucrats; the US drone strikes for which his regime gave clearance and the trampling of the judiciary and the media that are now setting the agenda in the country.

Leave alone contesting polls, Musharraf will have problems campaigning or finding a secure home to live. A whole lot of jehadi groups and Baloch nationalists are on the prowl to take out the ex-President. The criminal cases brought against him could also see the higher judiciary he summarily dismissed getting back at him. He doesn’t have very many friends in the very Media he initially helped emerge as a powerful pillar of the State.

Diplomatic sources in the know insist the Pakistan Army has indicated to him that he’d be better off staying in London and Dubai. The khakis are keen to obviate the possibility of a former COAS being hauled up in courts, jailed or assassinated by extremist elements.

Head as does a fledgling party, Musharraf cannot win of his own. Nor is he an attractive contender for other established political outfits to set up an alliance with him. He says he can work with Imran Khan. But the former cricketer’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf is avowedly anti-America and one of the biggest critics of drone strikes by the US forces in the region.

Be that as it may, the general remains his old cocky self, bar the realization that he made mistakes that caused his ouster from power and the country. He escaped retaliation because Army did not want its ex-Chief humiliated. It would have set a precedent for all future and former chiefs/generals some of whom are in the dock now for distributing funds to rig and manipulate elections in the 1980s.

So, logically Musharraf shouldn’t be allowed into Pakistan for the very reasons that he was forced out. But as the famous lawyer and PPP leader Aitzaz Ahsan often says— the only thing predictable about Pakistan is its past!

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