By Dr Farrukh Saleem
The News, May 27, 2007
Nelson Mandela ruled South Africa for five years. Mandela could have easily ruled for ten more but Mandela opted to walk away from all trappings of power. That's magnanimity. Mandela shall live forever.
General George Washington wasn't a member of any political party. Neither is General Pervez Musharraf. Washington ruled for eight years. So has Musharraf. Washington could have easily ruled for four more but Washington opted to walk away from all trappings of power (presidential term limit was passed in 1947). Washington thus lives on.
Musharraf's legacy is that of prosperity. More Pakistanis now own their homes than ever before. More Pakistanis own cars than ever before. Pakistan 's rate of economic growth has been second only to China . Pakistanis have been registering new companies at a rate that they have never done before.
Musharraf's legacy is that of education. Funds provided to public sector universities went up from Rs3.8 billion in 2001-02 to Rs14.3 billion in 2004-05. Musharraf's legacy is that of women empowerment. The Hudood Ordinance was amended and women participation in the political process increased manifold.
Musharraf's legacy is also that of media. Geo, Aaj, ARY, Indus Vision, Prime, Musik, DM Islam, Style Duniya, Ujala, Healthline, Hum, Masala, Fashion TV, Haq, CNBC, AVT Khyber and QTV. Then there's Mast FM103 Karachi, FM101 Hyderabad, City FM89 Faisalabad, FM101 Sialkot, FM100 Islamabad, FM101 Bannu and FM101 Quetta. Internet hosts have gone up from around 4,000 when Musharraf took over to 73,000 currently.
On May 17, the US Department of State said that General Musharraf has not yet reached the "end of his line." That may indeed be so, but that line now forks out either to democracy or repression (no third choice). Democracy is all about compromises and power sharing. Repression means a military solution, unenlightened immoderation even more confrontation, black laws, censorships, violence, end of prosperity and everything else that Musharraf has built over the past nearly eight years; bringing down each and every feat one by one. Imagine, an architect ripping apart his own most treasured building brick by brick, window by window, floor by floor. Could there be anything more painful than that? A painter putting to light his most adored piece of art inch by inch. A sculptor fracturing his most beloved sculpture bone by bone, tissue by tissue, joint by joint. Repression entails all of that and more.
On August 11, Musharraf will turn 64 (the average life expectancy of a Pakistani male is 62.73 years). Will there be a Nelson Mandela moment in Musharraf's life? Will there be a George Washington moment in Musharraf's life? Only the luckiest among mortals get to live forever.