A lonely birthday for Musharraf

August 11th, 2008 - 2:12 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, Aug 11 (IANS) There were no flowers and no cards either for Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on his 65th birthday Monday as uncertainty ruled the day with the government preparing to impeach him on charges of murder, corruption and misuse of power in the last nine years. Born in New Delhi on Aug 11, 1943, Musharraf is unlikely to forget this 65th birthday — the day the National Assembly and provincial assemblies are set to initiate the impeachment process against the military dictator who has vowed to fight until parliament passes the resolution.

“We have not received a single bouquet or birthday card so far,” an official of the presidency told IANS.

A far cry from the celebrations last year when hundreds of bouquets and gifts poured in to felicitate the man who took over power on Oct 12, 1999 when he ousted the Nawaz Sharif government in a coup.

Last year, Musharraf had cut a huge cake in a party to which several guests were invited. According to an informed official, a music party was arranged in which the recently sacked chief of the Federal Bureau of Revenue Abdullah Yusuf even danced on a popular song by the renowned Noor Jehan.

The video of this function is available on YouTube; and on Monday morning, people had started circulating the link. “Mush days are numbered… no celebrations this year; presidency mourns the birthday; no guests this year,” read one message.

Musharraf’s family crossed the border after the 1947 partition of India. He joined the army in 1964 and rose to its highest position in 1998 when his predecessor, General Jehangir Karamat, had to resign two days after he gave a statement on the army’s role in politics.

Musharraf was chosen by then prime minister Nawaz Sharif to head the army superseding five senior generals. He later developed differences with Sharif and in a counter coup dismissed his elected government. A year later, Sharif was sent to exile in Saudi Arabia.

The wheel has turned again, and the ruling coalition of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has decided to start impeachment proceedings against Musharraf.

In December last year, bowing to national and international pressure, Musharraf quit the army and installed General Ashfaq Kiyani as his successor and took oath as civilian president.

Unfortunately for him, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, the party backed by him, lost the February polls, making way for adversary Sharif’s PML-N and the PPP to form a government and launch a movement against him.

“It’s not deliberate. Just a coincidence that the process is being started on his birthday,” PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal told journalists. He said his party was not in favour of giving Musharraf a safe passage.

“A man who had been involved in killing hundreds of Pakistanis, who got money for handing over the countrymen, who sacked the elected prime minister, who initiated false charges against politicians should not be spared,” Iqbal said angrily.

As president Musharraf survived five murder attempts. He had once said that he had nine lives and only six had been used up.

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Posted in South Asia |