The resignation has finally arrived, and it has arrived with a package (read departing speech) of alarms of the nation going downhill, forewarning of political upheaval and counsel of safe keeping the nation against its falling apart. Since June 20, 2001, Pervez Musharraf had administered the country of Pakistan as the Chief of Armed Forces and the President.
He had staunchly held on to the post of President for the last eight years with an authority of an autocrat. Then, on November 20, 2007, he gave up with grave reluctance the position of Chief of Armed Forces to General Ashfaq Kayani. This was done at the firm request of the White House which has resolutely been a supporter of ‘Mushi’ policies. Musharraf, on his part, played the partner in the ‘war against terror’ with a steadfast loyalty.
With the crushing defeat coming at the hands of the joint coalition forces of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the ‘new hero in the block’ Asif Ali Zardari, his party PML(Q) laid a bleak show of jaded representation in the National Assembly of Pakistan. Though he remained President since the appalling loss in the elections, everyone knew that it was only a matter of time after which he would have had to step down from the position he desired so much. After the August 7 declaration by the Coalition in power, that the impeachment process was to begin for Musharraf, the writing became clear for the former President to step down. On Coalition triumphant announcement on August 17 that the impeachment charges had been completed, Musharraf decided to retain what ever dignity he could muster and resigned by August 19 in a very public ceremony.
What went wrong
Well, firstly the White House decided to take back its very public support for Musharraf. It was a very slow and steady process which took place when Benazir Bhutto was hunting for power with rejuvenated desire in Pakistan. With the U.S backing, Musharraf decided to build a pact with Bhutto. In the midst of these hectic activities, he stepped down as Army Chief and installed General Ashfaq Kayani in his place, a General who had equal support from the White House.
While these activities went on, Saudi Arabia decided to send Nawaz Sharif to Pakistan thus unswervingly confronting U.S. When the trio, could not reach a decision to build on each other and progress with the plans to build a new Pakistan, U.S began to bear the unpopular brunt of supporting Musharraf. Adding to the woes was the highly suspicious assassination of Benazir Bhutto which shook the country and completely brought about a wave of hatred against the former General.
There were constant evidences of the Pakistani intelligence bureau, ISI commanding support to several terror outfits including Taliban, with whom the U.S had a direct confrontation. This led to the Bush administration speeding up the slow and hard process of withdrawing support from Musharraf.
Secondly, after the PML(Q) and General Kiyani decided that it was not in the right direction to secure their allegiance to the former General, it was only a momentary decision for Musharraf to exit with a graceless demeanor. He was looked upon like the messiah for a reforming Pakistan but his very public departure from the highest office of Pakistan with an impending impeachment charges defied all the expectations hailed on him.
Possible repercussions for India
If truth be spoken, the former General never was enthusiastic about the Kashmir issue, going by the fact of the miserably failed Agra Summit in 2001. Time and again, his policies hindered the Kashmir peace process. Though he came up with some middle ground solutions of ‘soft borders’ and ‘joint sovereignty’, they were not enough to scale the ambitious needs of the peace looking Indian leaders.
With the situation of grave inflation stretching across the terrains of Pakistan, the leaders of the coalition would be hard pressed to get these issues out of the way and then tackle the administrative issues affecting the countries. With these events, the peace process could be hampered. Further, the coalition could have cracks now that the main agreement of showing the door to Musharraf has been achieved. Then again, it is too soon to call the shots. Best would be to wait and review the situation before an effective decision should be made.
In his closing address, Musharraf time and again warned his detractors, his deserters, his country men and the world of his good intentions and the good offices he ran. He barricaded his economic policies with a well constructed speech; however in the end, he signed himself off as being a little frantic. Stating again and again, that he was a man for his country and that with his resignation it wasn’t he who lost out, but the country he served with so much dedication.
It has been an end of an era for the charismatic General and deft politician who in the end drowned in his own ocean of failed diplomatic policies rather than internal organisation in the country. Nevertheless, his legacy as one of the many military Presidents in Pakistan cannot be disputed.
Sayan S. Das