Has Musharraf outlived his welcome?

by Akber Choudhry

While Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan brought much needed change and common sense to the country, it is becoming hard for even his staunchest supporters to support him any more.

Like drunkards, it has become the inevitable sad end of military rulers that they fade into ignominy, ranting and raving and becoming even more meaningless. And in case it is not obvious, completely out of touch with reality.

President Musharraf is not at this stage yet, but has definitely started to trudge in that direction. Why? A very simple reason: when policies and statements do not relate directly to a loss of votes, they become detached from reality. What is reality? Reality is the man on the street — the shrewd but simple man or woman who can see the truth when they encounter it.

On the “rape” remarks to the Washington Post, Musharraf was totally off-base. The altercation with the Pakistani women activists was even worse. What he said cannot be mistaken for anything else, for they are the exact type of words uttered by the ruling classes of Pakistan for the people from whom they have stolen hope, money and future.

It only means one thing — that Musharraf has lost touch with the common person and is under the influence of the same powers and forces that are the scourge of Pakistan since its beginning. These are the same people who have brought corruption and a host of other evils to this country. Musharraf cannot escape this fact.

The only hope for President Musharraf is to become dependent — dependent on the electorate. The country may well need him, but only the electorate can tell. Only those who are living “real” lives can bring Musharraf closer to reality with their “real” votes. I hope the message is not misunderstood by the Pakistani government. This feeling is now on everyone’s lips — even the staunchest supporters of Musharraf.