Democracy and Mush


Talking to Sky News on Wednesday, Musharraf said that Pakistan was more important to him than democracy. All of a sudden the former military ruler has realised that democracy could, in fact, harm Pakistan in which case he will not support it. This is quite interesting because till recently he was trying to create the perception that he had finally embraced democracy and was committed to return to Pakistan to contest the elections.

History provides enough evidence to prove that what has harmed Pakistan is not democracy but military rules. Military dictators who are trained only to fight wars develop a mindset that fails to take into account the complexities of society. Keen to concentrate all powers in their own hands, they tend to run the country through commands. The highly centralised style of policy making alienates the masses in general and smaller provinces in particular. Thus the process of integration encouraged during the civilian rule comes to a grinding halt, giving way to parochial and separatist tendencies. Reliance on force by governments lacking legitimacy harms the unity of the country. This is what one has seen happening during every military rule, be it Ayubs or Musharrafs. The separation of East Pakistan resulted from a prolonged dictatorial rule followed by an attempt to impose a military solution on the issue of provincial autonomy. The prevailing lawlessness and the calls for independence in Balochistan are the outcome of the reliance by Musharraf on brute force to bring peace to the province.

Musharraf had, in fact, never reconciled with democracy in his heart. WikiLeaks reveal that within six months of the 2008 elections he was toying with the idea of replacing the freshly elected government with that of technocrats. He has other reasons now to be disenchanted with democracy. Most of his erstwhile supporters have deserted him and his party has failed to take off. The PPP leadership which had provided him safe exit is becoming increasingly critical of him, with the partys Secretary General demanding his expulsion from the UK to enable Islamabad to investigate him in Benazirs murder case. The PML(N) is already demanding his trial. The Supreme Court has observed that Generals who violated its restraining order of November 3, 2007 could be summoned to explain themselves. While democracy might not suit Musharraf, it remains the only guarantee for the countrys integrity.