Bhutto calling Musharraf to quit

Pakistan‘s detained opposition leader Benazir Bhutto has called for President Pervez Musharraf to step down.

Benazir Bhutto should be seen as the legacy of her father who was toppled and executed by the military. Times have changed since his death. But she remains in a sort of way the genie that comes out of the bottle from time to time only to create havoc or raise dusts that ought to be left covering what should be covered. May the exile for her was a reflection on how to make a strong comeback after the humiliations she suffered, being a guest in the United Arab Emirates and separated from her husband whose medical condition was affected by years of imprisonment.

Since Bhutto set foot in Pakistan, events started to unfold quickly, from bomb attacks, imposition of martial law by Musharraf to the threat by the Commonwealth Organisation to suspend Pakistan from it.

Benazir Bhutto should be seen as the future saviour of democracy in Pakistan. She seems to be among the few who have great charisma to put a stiff challenge to Musharraf. Ironically, in this Muslim country, Benazir, as a woman, is seen to have more courage to say no to Musharraf in defiance to his martial law and army. Maybe Musharraf’s mistake was to drop all the previous charges against her which were the reason for her eight years exile and an impediment to her safe return to her country.

Musharraf seems to be far from keeping to his words. He seems to be blowing hot and cold. He promised to step down as the head of the army if elected president. Once elected, he imposed martial law to keep as head of state and army chief. He imposed house arrest on Benazir Bhutto only to lift it shortly later. Then he sent hundreds of troops to surround her house to prevent her from leading public protests to his rule He declared elections to be held in February to change his mind for January. Pakistan seems to be living under Musharraf’s whims in the absence of democratic institutions. His rule is a striking example of one-man-show politics.

But it seems both Benazir and Bhutto as a heavy force should work jointly for the best of Pakistan. There should be democratic elections run in normal circumstances and not through martial law and the imprisonment of opposition members. Once the elections are over, the army should work for sustaining security and peace. As long as the army is the arbitrator in political matters, democracy will be weakened. Self-seeking politicians will ally themselves with the strongest side, currently the military, leaving democracy activists exposed to the threat of arrest and imprisonment. Maybe Pakistan military rulers should look to Turkey which succeeded in making a balance between military and civilian powers.

In a BBC interview, late King Hussein of Jordan was asked about the future of the Hashemite/ Jordanian monarchy. He wisely responded that the survival of Jordan was more important than that of the monarchy. Good politicians should think about what is best for their country and not just about the survival of the oligarchy they have created through their ferocious grip on power.

Musharraf is now responsible for the present situation in Pakistan through the policies he undertakes. Benazir is having a message for the future. It remains to see how she can be a successful leader in a volatile country, whose leaders are known to end their terms either by being overthrown and sent to exile like Nawaz Sharif or by death through accident as it was the case of Zia Ul Huq or execution as it was the single case of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

Listen to the BBC WHYS show on this issue.

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