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Home > India > News > Columnists > Hamid Mir

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How Musharraf missed the Nobel Peace Prize

August 18, 2008

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Pervez Musharraf is still living in a fool's paradise. He resigned as Pakistan's president not out of any guilt but he resigned under political pressure. Just a few minutes before his speech on Monday he told one of his close friends that the coalition partners will start fighting with each other very soon, there will be more political instability in his absence, people will come out on the roads in the next six months and they will demand, 'come back Musharraf'. That is the reason Musharraf is not going out of Pakistan. He will stay in Pakistan under heavy security and he will wait for the people to call him back.

He is badly mistaken. The people of Pakistan had already rejected him and his policies on February 18. They were sick of him and that was why even US President George W Bush [Images] abandoned him in his last days. but Musharraf still thinks that Pakistan cannot survive without him. He claimed in his Monday's speech that Pakistan was about to be declared a terrorist state in 1999 but he rescued Pakistan and gave it a new identity.

He never mentioned Kargil [Images] which gave a bad name to Pakistan, he never mentioned anything about the judicial crisis he created in 2007 and he never mentioned anything about the assassination of Pakistan People's Party leader Benazir Bhutto [Images]. Her death started Musharraf's downfall. His government lost its writ for at least one week after Benazir's assassination. There was violence everywhere and the government evaporated. That was the time when the Army decided to stay away from Musharraf to save its credibility, and that was how Musharraf lost his power.

Benazir Bhutto's assassination was also a big blow to the peace process in South Asia.

Don't humiliate Musharraf, US tells Pakistan

President Pervez Musharraf [Images] and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] had agreed on an "out of the box "solution to the Kashmir dispute after many rounds of direct and indirect talks. They decided in 2006 to resolve the Kashmir dispute latest by the end of 2007. US President George W Bush was also on board with them. Both the leaders were hoping for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008 but now they have missed the chance.

Musharraf is no more in a position to sell an "out of the box" solution to the Kashmir dispute. Manmohan Singh will also face difficulties from the Indian parliament for the approval of an "out of the box" solution to Kashmir after the recent violence in Jammu and Kashmir [Images].

Musharraf and Manmohan Singh first met during the UN Summit in New York when the Indian prime minister called on the Pakistani president at his hotel in New York on September 24, 2004. It was an extremely pleasant encounter. Musharraf met Manmohan Singh again on April 18, 2005, during a one-day cricket match between India and Pakistan in Delhi [Images]. India lost the match but Musharraf and Manmohan Singh decided that they will find a Kashmir solution in which no side will be a loser but all will be winners.

After a few months they had another dinner on September 14, 2005, in New York, during the UN General Assembly. Musharraf proposed demilitarisation of Jammu and Kashmir, self-governance and joint management mechanism of the troubled valley. Initially Manmohan Singh raised many objections but later on both of them decided to continue their efforts for reaching on an "out of the box" solution without compromising the stated positions of their governments.

Indian National Security Adviser MK Narayanan and Pakistani National Security adviser Tariq Aziz continued their quite diplomacy in Dubai to discuss some more details. The Indian side convinced the People's Democratic Party's pro-Delhi leader Mehbooba Mufti and the Pakistani side took into confidence separatist Kashmiri leaders Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Yasin Malik for resolving the Kashmir dispute in the year 2007. The details of the great Kashmir solution were finalised in June 2006.

Musharraf wanted Manmohan Singh to visit Pakistan in July 2006 but the Indian prime minister was looking for a politically suitable opportunity to break the ice. Musharraf sent a message to Benazir Bhutto that the Kashmir problem will be resolved soon and she will have to support an "out of the box" solution.

Unfortunately 2006 was wasted and 2007 began. That was the year Musharraf started committing suicidal blunders. He sacked and arrested a sitting Chief Justice of Pakistan. Lawyers and civil society came out on the streets against him. He lost a legal battle in the Supreme Court of Pakistan on July 20, 2007, and Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was reinstated.

Musharraf never digested this legal defeat. He struck a deal with exiled opposition leader Benazir Bhutto with the help of the USA and the UK. Musharraf agreed to take off his Army uniform and hold elections. Benazir Bhutto agreed to support the war against terrorism in return for free and fair elections. Benazir returned to Pakistan in October but there was a lot of trust deficit between her and Musharraf. She was not ready to take a clear position against the Chief Jutice. An agitated Musharraf imposed emergency in Pakistan on November 3, 2007, mainly against the Supreme Court and "rebel media".

Benazir Bhutto declared this emergency as martial law and announced that she was stopping her dialogue with Musharraf. Elections were announced on January 8, 2008, but Benazir Bhutto suspected rigging and started making noises against it. She had a long meeting with the director general of ISI, Lt Gen Nadeem Taj, on the night of December 26, 2008. Taj warned her about some security threats and suggested she abandon her election campaign. Benazir Bhutto refused. The next day she was assassinated in Rawalpindi.

This assassination actually marked the political death of Musharraf. He lost his popularity in Pakistan completely. He delayed elections for one month but his rigging plans failed because the Army decided to stay away from politics. Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kyani even ordered the ISI not to support any political party in the election. The neutral role of the Army was a big blow to Musharraf. His supporters lost with big margins. The February 18 election was a clear vote of no-confidence by Pakistani voters against Musharraf, but he never accepted his defeat. He was not happy with the Army Chief. He was in a position to sack the Army Chief as the supreme commander of the armed forces but he was aware that the Army could defy his orders, like he defied the orders of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 1999 as Army chief. He decided to wait for an appropriate time to hit both the Army chief and the new coalition government.

Musharraf was sure that only he could resolve the Kashmir dispute, he was sure that only he has the guts to pave the way for the recognition of Israel by Pakistan. He was also sure that the Pakistan Army [Images] needs him despite the fact that he was no more in uniform. He thought that only he could negotiate more and more military aid from the US. He was sure that he will catch Osama bin Laden soon and the West will force the new coalition government to accept him as President for the next five years. Musharraf delayed the government-making process in Pakistan for more than one month. He tried to make deals with PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief Nawaz Sharif through top US diplomats but he failed. Musharraf is still popular in Western capitals but he is the most unpopular human being in Pakistan.

The new coalition sent him messages to resign but Musharraf threatened to use his constitutional powers. His rough attitude created problems, and finally the coalition leaders decided to impeach him. All his old buddies have ditched him. The US and the UK were not in a position to help him. They requested the new coalition to provide a safe passage to Musharraf instead of impeaching him. He has lost everything. All his friends want him to say goodbye.

Musharraf ruled Pakistan for more than eight years but he never ruled the hearts and minds of his people like a true leader because he never came to power through the ballot but through the bullet. He was definitely in a position to become a real peace-maker with the help of Manmohan Singh and Benazir Bhutto in 2007 but he missed this golden chance. He missed 2007 because he created a political turmoil in Pakistan by attacking the judiciary. He also missed a chance to win the Nobel Peace Prize along with Manmohan Singh due to his self-righteousness. He has missed everything now. He will soon realise that there is no use in staying on in Pakistan and ultimately he will leave the country because it's difficult for him to face the common people. He will also miss Pakistan very soon but the people of Pakistan will not miss him.

Musharraf was definitely the last military dictator of Pakistan; many people will remember him not only as a dictator but also as a traitor who broke the constitution of Pakistan not once but twice.


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