In politics ‘reality’ comes a second place to ‘perception’. What people perceive – whether it be right or wrong - soon ends up forming future ‘reality’.
Truth is that right now everyone perceives Musharraf as damaged goods.
There is an appropriate Shakespearean quote from Hamlet for Musharraf’s current travails:
When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions.
Now even the overseas press has begun to write him off.
Yesterday I blogged what the New York Times, and The Times (UK) had to say. Now here are damaging excerpts from articles in Time magazine and The Guardian.
Commenting on the news that burka-clad women raided a brothel and kidnapped an alleged madam "Auntie Shamim", two other women and a six-month-old girl The Guardian said:
Parts of Pakistan are slipping from the control of Gen Musharraf, who is also grappling with the crisis triggered by his showdown with chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
Describing the same event, Time magazine has come out with: Is Musharraf Losing His Grip? And said:
Musharraf has always tried to convince the West that he is all that stands between it and nuclear-armed mullahs. Hence the temptation to invoke al-Qaeda as a source of what are clearly very local political troubles. But as novelist Moshin Hamid wrote in the New York Times this week, "Pakistan is both more complicated and less dangerous than America has been led to believe. General Musharraf has portrayed himself as America's last line of defense in and angry and dangerous land. In reality, the vast majority of Pakistanis want nothing to do with violence." Only 13% of Pakistanis supported the fundamentalist parties in the last election, and all indications are that the country's most powerful institution, the military, supports the policies of "enlightened moderation" advocated by Musharraf.
So, even if the general were to lose power in a democratic elections, the chances are that Pakistan would continue on the same faltering path set by the general when he took power in 1999. However, if he continues interfering with democratic processes by suspending judges, cracking down on the media and instituting martial law, he could more easily fall victim to the radical forces he claims to be resisting. The harder Musharraf squeezes, the more the radicals have to gain. "The time has come for him to begin thinking of a transition," writes Hamid. "And for Americans to realize that, scare stories notwithstanding, a more democratic Pakistan might be better not just for Pakistanis but for Americans as well."