Pervez Musharraf, president of Pakistan, unceremonious sent Nawaz Sharif back to where he came from.
Amid great rejoicing (and nationwide anxiety), Nawaz Sharif returned to Pakistan to take part in this year’s general elections. He was exiled in 2000 after being found guilty of trying to orchestrate the permanent removal of Musharraf from Earth. Although Musharraf, if he stacked the courts right and played his cards right, could have had Sharif executed in 2000, he did not want to repeat the example of Zia-ul-Haqq, who had Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto executed. (Zia-ul-Haqq overthrew Bhutto, Musharraf overthrew Sharif.) The last thing Musharraf needed was to make Sharif a martyr. The Saudi government — which has a very heavy hand in Pakistani politics and administration — brokered a deal whereby the guilty Sharif would serve his 10-year sentence in exile in Saudi Arabia.
But, like the opportunistic politician he is, Sharif had to test the waters and push the envelope by violating that agreement. As soon as he landed, he was arrested, charged with more crimes, and given the choice of staying (and having to stand for trial) or leaving for Saudi Arabia. The Pakistani government says Sharif chose the latter, but I wonder how much the choice was made for him by various actors.
Were it not for the shade Zia-ul-Haqq and the current political environment in Pakistan, I would have whole-heartedly recommended that Musharraf execute Sharif. (And Benazir Bhutto, if she returns from exile.)
Now, although we should promote democracy and popular government wherever we can and ought to, Pakistan is a different case. Bhutto and Sharif are not popularly elected as they are people who manipulate the people so as to place themselves in a position whereby they can lord over the entire country as their families used to lord over their lands, treating the entire country and its peoples like their personal realms. They rule more as autocratic sovereigns than elected leaders. And if someone disagrees with them, that someone should not be surprised to find himself with lead poisoning, if you get my drift. As such, I see no reason — no reason whatsoever — why we need to patronize or even dignify these corrupt autocrats-wannabe.
I say: better a general on the throne than a fickle, undependable, de facto feudal lord.
We should not make Musharraf too comfortable in thinking he will always have our support, but we should not be played by the so-called “pro-democracy” actors in Pakistan, who speak what we want to hear in order that they can get our support, with which they can bring about their own nefarious purposes.
Just recall this: never has the press and the media been so free and uncensored as it is now under Musharraf. Bring back any of the ancien regime, and freedom will go out the window. Not to mention a somewhat stable hold of the country.