By Mujahid Hussain, New Age Islam
March 30, 2013
The former President Pervez Musharraf is facing extreme hatred in Pakistan. Apart from the right wing Islamists, other political forces too hate Musharraf as they had been targeted by him during his reign. Albeit, Nawaz League is unable to retain its old hatred and enmity because the Saudi forces that had helped him escape persecution by Musharraf have now come forward as Musharraf’s guarantors. Musharraf serves as a wonderful example to understand the current situation of Pakistan. When he was the chief of the army and his differences with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had not come to fore yet, he was an army commander who had links with the Islamic militant organisations. He had called Ilyas Kashmiri, a fast growing Al Qaida operative and an old militant of HuJI to GHQ and given him a reward of Rs One lakh for his feat of cutting off the head of an Indian soldier. Later the same Ilyas Kashmiri killed a promising Commando officer and the head of the commando centre Chirat Maj Gen Alwi and conducted his last operation at the Mehran Base of Pakistan Navy in Karachi inflicting huge losses to Pakistani defence. When Musharraf prepared the plan of Kargil attack, some of the militant leaders of HuJI and Ilyas Kashmir had more information on it than the heads of Pakistani air force and navy. It gives a hint of what kind of activities were carried out in Afghanistan and Kashmir and what kind of people were roped in for the purpose.
During the days when the Kargil war was on, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was being severely criticised while the army chief Gen Pervez Musharraf was showered with praises and all the terrorist and extremist religious organisations like Sipah-e-Sahaba, HuJI, Jamat Islami and other religious parties and organisations were expressing their love and admiration for Pervez Musharraf so much so that editorials and columns were being written on his love of Islam and military valour. The former heads of ISI including Hameed Gul and Javed Nasir declared him the brightest star in Pakistan’s history who seemed to succeed in avenging Bangladesh’s separation with its age old enemy India. Right wing newspapers published special editions and the jihadis were overwhelmed with a sense of achievement.
But suddenly, the tables were turned. Musharraf toppled Nawaz Sharif and came to power. Still the hopes of the jihadis were undiminished. They hoped that jihad will spread across the country and that Pakistan was ready to assume the leadership of the Islamic world.
All the euphoria died down when Musharraf had to take unpalatable decisions as the head of state following the terrorist attacks in America as Pakistan had to agree to support the war against the Al Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan. What followed are the incidents of not a distant past and therefore going into details is not necessary. All of a sudden Musharraf fell from grace and became a symbol of hate and he escaped death staring in his eyes twice. Pakistan army was targeted and a huge number of Pakistanis lost their lives. Many higher officers of Pakistani army lost their lives. It continues even today.
Musharraf’s journey from love to hate is before us. And the day he comes back to Pakistan after one of the abhorrable agreements in the history of Pakistan, Al Qaida and Taliban release a video that asks Musharraf either to surrender himself before them or be ready to die, in the same way as Musharraf had told Baloch leader Akbar Bugti that he would not even come to know from wherever he would be targeted. The same threats are being given to Musharraf by Al Qaida and Taliban.
If Musharraf had not allied with America as the head of the state, he would have received the same respect from Pakistanis that Hameed Gul, Javed Nasir and Aslam Beig enjoy and he would be declared a true soldier of Islam and Pakistan. Today, no political party worth its salt likes Musharraf and he does not have the mass support. The main reason for this is the national penchant for war because we have spent decades to create an atmosphere where the dominant aspiration is to obliterate India, to take on the US and the Western countries and control Afghanistan. We have neither been able to inflict any loss or damage to India nor have we been able to teach the western countries a lesson, nor do we have a friend in Afghanistan. And it will take decades to change this mentality and turn this atmosphere into a peaceful one. It also entails the active participation of the common people which is not in sight because not only the power of the militant religious groups has grown manifold in Pakistan but also the minorities are the victims of violence. It is surprising that the democratic governments have also not succeeded in this direction. It is a matter of concern that now Musharraf will also adopt the same policy to gain public support which was adopted by his predecessors as in the current situation there seems to be no other option.
Mujahid Hussain is Brussels Bureau Chief of New Age Islam. He is author of nine books including the recently published book ‘Punjabi Taliban’. He has been writing for various newspapers as an investigative journalist for the last two decades. His writings cover a wide range of issues involving Pakistan. In recent years, local, regional and international affairs relating to terrorism and security have been the subject of his study.