Five years after seizing power in a bloodless coup, Pakistan’s military Dictator, and self-appointed President Pervez Musharraf remains Pakistan's most powerful man.
Shortly after 1999 coup, General Musharraf told nation: "I shall not allow people to be taken back to era of sham democracy." Five years later, people realized that Musharraf has truly kept his word. He did not allow anyone to take people back to era of shame democracy. He did it himself.
The lesson General Musharraf and his Western backers are leaving behind for other coup leaders in this process is: If constitution does not legitimize your actions, delegitimize constitution. That you can do by virtue of holding it in abeyance. In meanwhile, instead of mending your ways, amend constitution to legitimize both your actions and "sacred" document.
It might sound odd and impossible but not for someone backed up by absolute power.
The former shame Pakistani democracies now seem far better by comparison when looked at in perspective of all crusaders of democracy fully approving and supporting a people's living under a systematically legalized dictatorship.
The move by Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s military ruler, to legitimize and cement his grip on power through a passing awkward bill, ‘The Bill to Enable President of Pakistan to Hold Another Office’ in national assembly on October 14th, 2004 to extend his self-declared Presidency is as clear a manifestation of absurdity of exercise to legitimize General Pervez Musharraf and to remain in uniform as Chief of Army staff for unspecified period is likely to see him emerge far weaker politically and more vulnerable on legitimacy question. In reneging on his pledge to return Pakistan to democracy, General Musharraf has attacked main political parties and their leaders and he alienated very constituency that supported his bloodless coup. The reality is that without military’s grip on power being loosened and rogue Inter-Services Intelligence agency being cut to size, there can be no real, sustained movement in Pakistan toward democracy.
The fact that in Pakistan holding public meetings and taking part in public demonstrations and processions are offenses under military decree is overshadowed by General's rhetoric of "containing militancy".
Musharraf plans to continue his military dictatorship through a manufactured political party PML-Q (Pakistan Muslim League-Q), shutting out from contest legitimate political parties and leaders of Pakistan. Two of Pakistan's ex-prime ministers are living in exile, and plenty of political workers are disqualified from taking part in Pakistani politics.
Political parties fear that secrete dealing between General Musharraf and a coalition of Islamist political parties would play into long-term goals of Pakistani Islamic fundamentalism (The dictator, and coalition of Islamist hardliners, MMA (MULLAH MILITARY ALLIANCE) has already a deal and MMA has supported a bill in parliament by which president can dismiss prime minister - move would have to be ratified by Supreme court). To them, failure to return to democracy means that extremist allies remaining within Pakistan's security services cannot be effectively rooted out.
"Civilian control of all aspects of national policy, including security matters, is only way to ensure that Pakistan does not become a haven for extremists again," one political analyst remarked.
"Let us remember lessons of Iran," writes Benazir Bhutto. "The Shah of Iran was West's surrogate regional policeman for decades. His policies of choking and victimizing democratic forces led to fundamentalist revolution from which world has yet to recover."
She continues, "For moment, some might find Musharraf's dictatorship useful. But United States must proceed with great caution and wisdom. In words of John F. Kennedy, 'Foreign policy requires long view.' Ultimately, West's blind eye to democracy and human rights can have unintended, unforeseen, and deadly consequences, not just in Pakistan, but for regional and world peace."