Rani Singh

Will a mellower Musharraf win over the voters?

Will a mellower Musharraf win over the voters?
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If this family interview with Pakistan Television is anything to go by, President Musharraf is doing cuddly. The interview’s mainly in Urdu, but I thought Coffee Housers might like to catch a rare glimpse of Pakistan’s first family at home in Karachi.

Speedy synopsis (in English!): the President believes that “Sleeping is a waste of time”. Though a soldier, he’s in touch with his feminine side and likes the arts. He feels Pakistan needs a “softer” image based around heritage, culture and sport rather than guns and violence. He describes being taken to visit endless monuments and museums on foreign visits, so he wants to build something lasting for his nation to be proud of other than ritual showcase mosques. He says he’s initiated the construction of several performing arts academies.

Musharraf enthusiastically describes his greatest achievements and lists honesty, humility and contentment as necessary qualities. He says that praise and respect should be left for observers to deliver, showing off just isn’t this President’s style. He says he was inclined to “help” his son Bilal get into Stanford but his son asked him not to. His daughter Ayla talks of being under “a huge shadow.”

Despite this televisual PR assault, it seems that Pervez Musharraf has lost some public sympathy. His recent European tour, designed to improve his standing, hasn’t made up for the damage caused by his actions at home.

The PML (Q) party which has been supporting him is trying to stop the bleed. The News this week quoted a “key aide” suggesting that Musharraf might quit if his opponents defeat him on February 18th, and on Monday claimed that:

“The 'king's party', the PML-Q … has … expressed its remorse at what was done to the country's superior judiciary early last November … Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has admitted that the sacking of the judges was one of the major blunders during the party's rule in the last five years. This public admission from the Q-chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has come after the leadership of the same party has been secretly distancing itself from the Nov 3 actions and holding President Musharraf squarely responsible for the same.”

And the Dawn, claims that the PML (Q) is now not sure whether Musharraf  is “an asset or a liability”. The same newspaper reports that the ruling party is even asking the nation’s forgiveness for the spiralling costs of electricy, gas and flour.

President Touchy-Feely could be in a tight corner. But he’s a fighter…