Editorial: Mr Musharraf takes a gamble

The former military ruler has decided to return to Pakistan and fight an election

Pakistan’s former military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, has chutzpah. It takes some audacity, aged 69, to leave behind a comfortable life in exile in London and Dubai and fly home to face Taliban death threats and several court charges – and fight an election.

Mr Musharraf became deeply unpopular at home in the last years of his rule because of his doggedly pro-American stance. It is, therefore, a measure of the country’s dismal performance on almost every front since power was ceded to a civilian government in 2008 that he feels there is even a chance of staging a political comeback in the 11 May elections.

The election is a milestone. Barring a last-minute military coup, which looks unlikely, it will be the first in Pakistan’s history in which one democratically elected civilian government has handed power to another. Mr Musharraf played a key role in this process of demilitarising Pakistan’s politics when he bowed out peacefully in 2008, and will claim some of the credit for this benign development – one of the few that Pakistan has experienced in recent years – in the campaign.

How far it can take him is a moot point. Mr Musharraf’s successors in the governing Pakistan People’s Party have squandered most of their credibility over the past five years under the diffident and corrupt leadership of Asif Ali Zardari, husband of the late Benazir Bhutto. But the beneficiaries of growing disillusionment with the PPP have been the former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, who is likely to win most votes in May, and, to a lesser extent, Imran Khan. In other words, some people may feel a twinge of nostalgia for the Musharraf era but Pakistan has moved on.

Meanwhile, the greatest challenge facing him over the next few weeks will not be wooing swing voters but warding off the numerous militants who have put a price on his head. He well knows the seriousness of those people’s intentions, which only confirms what a great gambler the former general remains.

News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003