Pervez Musharraf derives perverse satisfaction, a lot of it from his Kargil adventure, touting a feat that virtually brought India and Pakistan to a nuclear showdown. It was some kind of revenge, or at least that was impression given, for what India did in East Pakistan in 1971 worse, he even underscores the need for a repeat of Kargil. Mainstream political parties - particularly the PML-N and the PPP - view with doubt and suspicion his Kargil action taken just months before his military coup in October 1999. But there are a number of other parties that argue that the then army chief had rendered a great service to the nation and the army by humiliating Indian troops in the Kargil war. The army perhaps subscribes to the view.
Unfortunately, however, Musharraf's understanding of politics in a country that he ruled for nearly a decade, has been found to be pitiable. More importantly, he appears to be bereft of realities of dynamics of Pakistani politics, only months before the scheduled general elections. Addressing a sizeable rally of his supporters at Karachi's Liaquatabad flyover, a venue that was earlier used by the MQM and later by its rival PSP to display their respective popular support ahead of the elections, Musharraf has made an effort to create a political space for himself by focusing on Karachi to cash in on the opportunity the unraveling of the MQM, which has been dominating urban Sindh's political landscape since the 1980s, has created. In doing so, he has come up with a narrative that is clearly centered on a somewhat passionate call for doing away with politics based on ethnicity. Recognizing the formidable presence of other communities such as Pushtoons, Punjabis, Baloch and Sindhis in Karachi, he has urged the electorate not to vote for practitioners of identity-based parties such as the MQM, the PSP, the ANP - not forgetting the PPP. He is particularly harsh on the MQM, his close ally during his rule. He now believes that this party caused immense harm to Muhajir's identity and interests since its very inception. Unfortunately, he conveniently ignores his own role in the promotion of the MQM. The MQM owe its birth to the machinations of the establishment which successfully midwifed a political party based on ethnicity as a bulwark against the PPP and the right-wing forces in post-Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Sindh. It also attained enormous clout and muscle-power during Musharraf's own rule. The longest-ever governorship of the MQM's Dr Ishratul Ibad in Sindh was the reflection of the party's historic closeness with the country's powerful establishment. The unprecedented financial autonomy of Karachi's city government under an MQM mayor was also a sign of Musharraf's largesse towards a party he now denounces. It was during Musharraf's period that the MQM obligingly responded to all legitimate and illegitimate orders from Islamabad. The depth of MQM-Musharraf relations found its best expression in the bloodshed on Karachi's streets on May 12, 2007, on the arrival of the then Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry that day. Being an Urdu-speaking former army chief Musharraf is required to speak the whole truth. His speech, which was characterized by anti-MQM sentiments, conveyed only part of the truth in order to deceive his possible and actual admirers. It is about time Musharraf came clean about what he had been doing all those years when the MQM was ruling urban Sindh under an arrangement that stipulated a less-than-dignified role for his appointed chief ministers of Sindh - Ali Mohammad Mahar and Ghulam Arbab Rahim, leaders of his own "king's party," who restricted their domain to rural Sindh. Telling the whole truth may actually improve an apparently unwell Musharraf's electoral prospects, in Karachi and Sindh in particular.