Monday, November 5, 2007

The Bitter Truth

Lo and behold! The extra-constitutional option of imposition of emergency, which has been so lovingly advocated by the infamous Chaudhrys of Gujrat and the rest of President Musharraf’s opportunistic sycophants for months, has finally been implemented. It seems that for once, our general had the guts to bypass his American orders; that however remains the solitary consolation of yesterday’s blatantly illegal action. The Chief Justice of Pakistan has been deposed, media channels have been taken off the air and some weird sort of emergency-cum-martial law has been imposed, ironically with the imbecile parliament still in place. LUMS faculty members have been arrested, and there has been a general clampdown on any kind of opposition, be it political workers or human rights activists; as always, the military’s bravado remains restricted to its own people with the terrorists in the NWFP, who have been disrupting the lives of innocent civilians, still roaming free.

The emergency, or whatever one cares to call it, is not so much shocking as it is disheartening. With a near-free media in place, a reinvigorated judiciary, parliament, however useless, looking to complete its five years in dignity and a peaceful transfer of power on the cards, it seemed that Pakistan was finally on the road to democracy. After yesterday, Pakistan is back in the era of darkness; make no mistake about it. General Pervez Musharraf has proved himself to be unlike no other previous dictator, too unwilling to relinquish power, too arrogant to admit his mistakes and ultimately too stupid to avoid a disgraceful exit.

What good can this do for him, let alone Pakistan? In LUMS, where only a few weeks back an LPS survey found a respectable 42 % to be in favour of continuation of his rule, Musharraf has reached rock-bottom. Why couldn’t Musharraf be man enough to accept the upcoming SC judgment and let free and fair elections actually take place for once in this unfortunate country’s blighted history? He would have set an unprecedented example of tolerance, left a legacy of sincere governance and achieved an exalted position in history, but no he chose raw power and in doing so, inflicted incalculable damage to the country in his desperate bid to remain in power, which will eventually prove to be fruitless. That at least is indisputable. It is high time for Musharraf to finally do some soul-searching and listen to the voice of reason, if any still prevails in the Aiwan-i-Sadr. In his very unconvincing address to the nation on Saturday night, he claimed that the interest of Pakistan would continue to be his ‘guiding principle’. He has one last chance to prove that true; otherwise he only needs to go back in memory lane to 1969 to know his fate. This is a bitter truth he must acknowledge.

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