Instead, I will tell you 'why' I decided - for the first time in my somewhat politically active life - to absolutely refuse to participate in a protest against le presidente, choosing instead to stay at home and shake my head at collective Pakistani idiocy. I decided to stay home that day because I did not believe then, and I do not believe now, that President General Parvez Musharraf was evil personified. Or a heartless military dictator. Or the resident idiot at the Presidency. (All of which, btw, I would - and have - said about Lord V. Except the military part, but as everyone knows, darling, you-gotta-have-balls to be in the army).
But I digress. I did not protest against Musharraf because I truly admire him. And I admire him because my father admired him. So what, ask you, should it matter to you who my father admired? Would Hitler have been exonerated, say you, if my father was fond of the man?
In response to which I elaborate: I admire Musharraf because he could reach out and talk to people like my father and convince them - despite all that they've seen - that he was worthy of their respect. I admire Musharraf because everything he did - the good and the bad - was focused on maintaining, preserving and keeping together - this failing mess of a nation-state. And before the democracy-dogs start growling, let's clarify that YES he was a military man, YES he was not elected (unless you count the redundant referendum where I personally voted four times) and YES he made mistakes. But I still admire the man. I admire him because when you weigh everything (the non-democracy, the military expenditure, the violence in Balochistan, the Laal Masjid episode, the abrupt dismissal of CJ-darling) on one side, on my scale he still wins by virtue of one quality: leadership.
Musharraf was a man who inspired confidence. He spoke honestly, truly and without artifice. No one who saw him deliver one extempore after another could doubt that he 'knew' what he was talking about. When he stood there on the television and told you that he's sorry for your loss, you realized that he truly was sorry. When he stood there and told you that he honestly has no choice, you may not have agreed with him, but you had to appreciate that he deemed you worthy of explanation. When he stood in front of you and said good-bye, you would have to be truly heartless not to have cried. He was a man with many enemies, perhaps because he was intelligent, he gave as good as got and he took no quarter.
He was a man to be admired, and I truly wish he was still at the helm because perhaps he could have done no better, perhaps he would have done worse, but he - amongst all the other worthy pretenders to the title - would given our people what they need right now: strength, purpose, determination and most of all a direction.
Cyril asked us a question the other day: WHERE ARE OUR FUCKING LEADERS? My response is simple, they're on the other side of the border talking to 'India Today'. They're there because we drove them out. They're there because we protest against those who let us talk, but when others threaten us with 14-years in prison we shut-the-fuck-up. We are pathetic. Which would be why we don't deserve any better.