Emad's Blog (Under Renovation)

Monday, August 18, 2008

End Of An Era - Initial Reactions

As someone that has spent their teen years watching a Pakistan under Musharraf, this is the only era of Pakistan that I know from experience. All else that I know of my country comes from either a reading of history or speaking with those older than me.

While today appears to reflect in some manner the series of events that led to a similar resignation of Ayub Khan almost 40 years ago, for me this experience was very new, and it leaves me with many thoughts, emotions and concerns.

This post is no attempt to sum up the last 9 years, to analyze his successes or failures - political, economic or social, or a glorification of the Musharraf era or otherwise. It is a mere exercise in thinking aloud and reflecting on recent history and the future of this country.

Musharraf resigning - with English translation

Sitting at the student lounge at LUMS, I saw the small crowd erupt in an applause the moment the words (I translate), ".. in light of this, I am resigning from my post", were spoken by the now former President Musharraf.

Almost 9 years ago, I had rejoiced in a similar manner seeing him oust Nawaz Sharif in a military-led coup. For years after that, I was a vehement supporter of the man and his policies, calling him a benevolent leader. I did buy into his charisma and the straightforward manner of his expression. I did appreciate the skill and confidence with which he carried the flag of the country internationally. I liked the easing relationship with India and I appreciated the moderate views he brought with him to office. My single bone to pick with him (big bone, that!) was the fact that he was an unelected military person, and for that, I opposed him in principle, while I did speak about voting for him, should he contest a direct national election.

However, over the past year, I was the same person who had to switch sides due to Musharraf's actions on the judiciary and the state of emergency. I marched along the civil society, chanting 'Time to Go, Musharraf!', and I wore a black armband to register my silent protest, wherever I went and I protested the loss of civil liberties that are at the foundation of the social development of any nation.

The country is bigger than one man, be it ANY man.

So what does the future hold?

He's probably going to remain in Pakistan. I don't see Musharraf being prosecuted as he has probably bargained his immunity in return for a resigning and preventing a lengthy and intense impeachment process. But it is now that the political focus will shift to the differences between the coalition parties PPP and PML-N. There will be massive horse-trading for the decision of who will succeed Musharraf and there is bound to be friction on other issues such as the restoration of the judiciary, the state of the economy, the War on Terror and so on..

In any case, I am terribly concerned to the point of fear for the upheaval that lies ahead. I dread a Pakistan ruled by Zardari. Just like every other Pakistani, I truly do. But that may in fact be the price we have to pay to move ahead in the hope for democracy and the institutional development that is bound to come after this period of strife. Let me reiterate: It is GOOD to see the end of an era led by an unelected man. It is GOOD to see the remnants of military rule disappear for now. Musharraf, for all his true intentions, was the embodiment of both. It is GOOD to see hope return.

Coming back into my classy little financial sector office, I reflect on the events of today while staring blankly at the stock market's graph for today. I guess popular sentiment wins the day.

The Karachi Stock Exchange - 100 Index for today

There IS this one thing, though. I do hope to one day sit with Mr Musharraf and really talk about what was it that drove him through his term and what specifically was the thought process behind the events that took place in his last year. I hope to someday understand.



  • I still can't believe that he resigned. It's almost like resignition of Boris Yeltsyn in 1998, though he was in office for 8 years only & through democratic elections. But the feeling even here remains the same: end of era.

    I keep my figers crossed for Pakistan. Allah ma'akom!

    By Blogger Oksana, At 18/8/08 20:11  

  • Thanks, Oks.

    Btw, all - video has a mistranslation (it is supposed to say 80-85% say I should 'leave', not 'stay').

    By Blogger Emad, At 18/8/08 20:24  

  • similar feelings...

    there are no easy answers. and others have such absolute statements to make like He is the best Pakistan has seen OR He has taken Pakistan into deep trouble. Even I hope to understand...

    By Blogger Umair, At 18/8/08 20:52  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Jorien, At 12/9/08 17:35  

  • Dude...what's left, right, down....what's up? =p

    with smile,

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