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Will Mush’s return have an impact?

General Pervez Musharraf returns to Pakistan seeking to make a place for himself in the politics of this nation, one which he once ruled as a military dictator. Musharraf’s return adds one more incendiary element to the already convoluted politics of Pakistan. The general had seized power in a coup in 1999 only to yield power to a groundswell of democratic opposition from civil society and from the judiciary a decade later. He arrives in Pakistan at a time the country is making a political transition. The government led by the Pakistan People’s Party has stepped down after a full term, in time for the general elections scheduled for 11 May. These elections will mark the country’s first successful democratic transition as, earlier, democratically elected governments had their terms aborted or were replaced in military coups. The return of General Musharraf to Pakistan after four years of self imposed exile in London is not likely to make much of a difference in the general elections. The general, who never stood for democracy, has launched a political party called the All Pakistan Muslim League, but hardly has much support in Pakistan as of present beyond a small group and his party lacks a broad electoral base.
 
He does not face an immediate easy future as he faces militant threats and legal troubles. He is charged with involvement in the 2006 death of Baloch nationalist leader, Nawab Akbar Bugti, in a military operation and he faces criminal charges in connection with the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Musharraf should not be allowed to escape the charges against him as this is one way of ensuring an end of the military’s abuses in Pakistan. The general returns at a time when Pakistan’s relations with the United States have reached a new low, the country’s economy is struggling and terrorist attacks are on the increase. Musharraf is now posing as the champion of stability and of economic progress. It is unlikely that the Pakistani people will buy this argument. In the last four years there has been much change in Pakistan and Musharraf is a factor that this country may have well moved beyond. The return of Musharraf is hardly good news for India as he was the architect of Kargil and generally followed an anti-India policy though making some friendly overtures. Pakistan needs good governance and Musharraf is hardly the candidate to bring  more of it.
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