Is Musharraf fighting a losing battle of his life?

By Brig Samson S Sharaf

The climax to the return of General (Retired) Pervez Musharraf after a self imposed exile of five years had been slowly building. He was returning to Pakistan with the make belief of having been a reformist who had bolstered economic prosperity of his country to new levels, only to see it crumble during his exile. His belief in himself is so strong that he refuses to accept that many of the precursors of this meltdown were set in his times by his very own.

His lectures delivered with emotions and without notes in the major learning centers of the world, ability to catch the spotlight with his motivational arguments followed by standing ovations convinced him that he was the helmsman Pakistan desperately needed to steer out of troubled waters. Along the way, his small but devoted group of admirers, television channels of every description and the appreciative international audience played their role in convincing him that the nation awaited him.

Several incidents emboldened his self belief notions of popularity and indispensability. First, the tirades by his most trusted staff officer Lt. Gen (Retired) Shahid Aziz were a short lived soap opera. The exposures got no support from the fraternity of the retired and serving soldiers, convincing him of his own credibility. He missed the point that the soldiering cadre chose not to react in the spirit of military corporatism and inclusiveness and not as indemnifying his actions. Earlier, he had single handedly taken the sting of vitriolic propaganda launched by a TV Channel of ‘Times of India’ that saw his popularity surge.  IRI surveys putting more trust in the military than the political system also played their role in his decision fatale. In typical military fashion, the earlier arrival of Allama Tahir Ul Qadri appears a softening operation pending the arrival of the Godot. But, the Godot never comes!

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[box] Surrounded by a group of devoted followers who shared his dreams and provided the pompous and megalomaniac aura around him, he succumbed to his innate instincts. Having remained at the helm of affairs with unbridled authority for eight long years, he must have impatiently seen the entire edifice collapse. The frustrations and the strong emotions emboldened the activist in him to a cognitive construct of a hero’s return home. [/box]

Surrounded by a group of devoted followers who shared his dreams and provided the pompous and megalomaniac aura around him, he succumbed to his innate instincts. Having remained at the helm of affairs with unbridled authority for eight long years, he must have impatiently seen the entire edifice collapse. The frustrations and the strong emotions emboldened the activist in him to a cognitive construct of a hero’s return home. However, this pomp was not to be and he will continue to face the indignity before courts and the media. Gone are the days when the misinformed public of third world countries would treat despots as saviors. The hyperactive judiciary, a strengthening democracy and the media bent on dominating airwaves would ensure that they would make breaking news of his every move and critics of the military would spare no moment to disgrace the institution busy in fighting its lonely war.

People all over Pakistan continue to guess what compelled the ex President to return in such hostile environments to face lawsuits and police investigators. Most serving and retired military men are critical of his return. Pakistan Ex Servicemen Association issued a very strong rejoinder prior to his arrival. These are the people who had stood with the Chief Justice during the lawyer’s movement and endured tear gas and batons. There is information that concerned quarters had cautioned him of the implications of his return home, but his advisors and close associates played on his boisterous attitude to the contrary. It seems that as mentioned earlier, his working relations with international centers of power and the exposure itself led to cognitions that it was his call of duty. The man that he is, he will continue to take it as his call of duty.

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I feel bad about him for what he is doing to himself and the image of the institution he always loved. He was once my commander and a passionate mentor. But then I was also one of those who dared to speak the truth before him.

General (Retired) Pervaiz Musharraf had been our role model GOC in Okara. Training, administration, welfare or extracurricular, he was everywhere. He and his wife were a common sight at the bedside of patients in CMH.  During Lt. Col Zia’s cardiac arrest, the couple sat through the night outside the CCU and wept when his death was announced. His presence brought a big developmental and social change in the deserted garrison. He played sports with youngsters, took care of their professional development and was always considered a mentor. I remember him as a Corps Commander in Mangla handing me his personal life jacket for surfing. I took liberty to be candid and tell him when he erred. He showed graciousness.  It was not long that his rigid mindset and propensity to set the course became apparent. As he accumulated power, the real Musharraf I knew began to fade away.

Knowing that dictators are apt to fall into their own delusionary pit of Megalomania, I warned him to beware of Fly by Night Reformers. True to his character, he rallied concentric circles of teams and men of opportunity. As he isolated himself from well wishing critics, a dictator began to emerge. I dared to note that the biggest test of nobility would be his honorable retirement on the due date. In the same note I also warned against the hazards of pro military political groupings. He underlined my comments and proceeded to make PMLQ and gave himself extensions. This is how, a remarkable field commander ruined himself when accumulated with absolute power

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But this is the typical course that dictators of every description follow. Psychiatrists and neurologist who have studied and researched coup makers opine that all dictators are possessed by Megalomania. They use their intelligence to pursue drives like belief, aggression and power; lofty and imitated emotional expressions of compassion, sympathy, sociability, patriotism and morality to endear grassroots. According to researchers, the narcissism of such individuals is extreme and grandiose. It leads them to exist in a kind of splendid isolation. Consequently, the creation of the grandiose self takes precedence over legal, moral or interpersonal commitments. They are capable of inspiring affection of sometimes fanatical degree through speech and fear and hence the delusional impetus.

General (Retired) Pervez Musharraf still believes that he has come to deliver and that; this is his final roll call.

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