No one will write to the General
May God be your protector Mr Musharraf. Your almost nine-year autocratic rule has come to an inglorious end. It was wise of you to step down before they impeached you, writes Khushwant Singh.india Updated: Aug 29, 2008 22:54 IST
May God be your protector Mr Musharraf. Your almost nine-year autocratic rule has come to an inglorious end. It was wise of you to step down before they impeached you. Impeachment would have been neither in your nor your country’s interest.
At the end of your political career, you have more well-wishers in India than in your own country.
It was a minor miracle as you started off with an attempt to grab Kargil from us by force that almost brought our countries to the brink of a war. Several hundred lives, Pakistani and Indian, were lost in your misadventure. You were quick to realise that taking on India was no child’s play and being on good terms with us would be more profitable.
And so it was. Road, rail and air travel between us showed noticeable increase. So did trade, commerce and goodwill.
Relations between our countries had never been friendlier than in your latter years in power. We were not aware of the resentment building up against you in your own country because we did not have to suffer your authoritative rule. You should have known the adage: power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Granted you did not make money or promote your relations to privileged positions as most politicians do in our countries.
But you did rob your people off their rights and freedoms. You sacked the Chief Justice and 60 other judges. You ordered their arbitrary arrests. And you suspended the Constitution. You should have known you would have to pay a heavy price for doing so.
Your people turned against you. You tried to win support of your foreign allies. At the prodding of the Chinese, you ordered the storming of the Lal Masjid that had become the hot-bed of Taliban bigotry and attacked Chinese run beauty and massage parlours in Islamabad. Lal Masjid was a bloody affair in which many men and women were killed. At the prodding of the Americans you tried to recover areas in the north-west extending from Swat to Baluchistan. Many more lives including Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti’s were lost. That eroded the little support you had.
In the elections you reluctantly held, your party got a drubbing. Now we have Messrs Zardari, Sharif and Gilani — all three tainted with charges of corruption — at the helm of affairs of Pakistan. In actual fact, the one thing that holds the country together is the army. We are back to square one, but without your calling the shots. What are friends of Pakistan in India to make of this aborted attempt to become a democracy ?
Having said all that, we still invoke the mercy of Allah to protect you from harm. Many attempts were made on your life when you were in power. No doubt those very people will be dying to settle scores with you. Hence the prayer, Allah Hafiz!
What preoccupies the minds of men past their middle age after they have done their day’s work and have nothing to do? Based on introspection, I have come to the conclusion that they think of three things whose proportions vary with age but are concerned with basic needs of survival, procreation, reflections of their past years and uncertainty of the future.
If they are still working, they first think of how their work is progressing and what remains to be accomplished. They are concerned with their bread and butter, the instinct of survival. Then they think of sexual affairs they had or wanted to have. That is basically the instinct to procreate. And finally, they go over their past: friends they had, misunderstandings or deaths that ended their relationships and what the future holds for them. Mohammed Rafi Sauda (1713-1781), poet laureate of the Mughal Court, thought along the same lines:
Fikr-e-maash, ishq-e-butaan, yaad-e-raftgaan
Is zindagi mein ab koi kya kya karey
(Concern for livelihood, love for women, memories of the past
What else is there to left to man in his life?)
Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib (1797-1869) had much the same thing to say, except that he was obsessed with impending death.
He craved for fursat (a break from the all-consuming business of making a living to indulge his mind on other things):
Jee dhoondta hai phir vahi fursat ke raat din
Baithey rahen tassavur-e-jaanaam kiye hue
In later life, a man spends less time thinking of his livelihood. Recollections of affairs with women recede into the background as do memories of departed friends. He begins to worry more of his unknown future.
Musharraf’s last message
Mujhe aur kuch nahi chahiye; mujhe mere haal pe rehne do
I don’t need anything except to be left to my fate.
There is a deep conspiracy to kick me out at any rate.
All along I worked honestly but a man at times makes a mistake;
Pardon me and don’t try to exaggerate.
For me Pakistan is everything: I leave it in the hands of the gods,
God: bless it and guard it against all odds.
After consulting legal luminaries, friends and foes
In the interest of Pakistan I resign;
It is only to safeguard the interests of
Pakistan and not mine.
(Courtesy: Lachhmandass, Janakpuri, Delhi)
(Khushwant Singh is indisposed. There will be no column next week)