Not too long after his last return to Pakistan — to contest election, win, and steer the country to glory once again, of course — Gen Musharraf roared on TV one fine evening about the most enduring lesson of his life. “I learnt long ago in the army not to reinforce failure”, he said. When the last attempt to save Pakistan didn’t quite pan out — in fact, not even ten percent of the two hundred thousand he expected at the airport showed up — one would have thought the former strongman’s feet might finally have touched the ground. He did have to put up quite a show, after all, to escape the treason case, the Bugti murder case, and the BB case, and get out of the country. The military had to be dragged in. There was the circus about his back suddenly giving way, then his heart giving trouble; all of which sub sided, naturally, as soon as he touched down in Dubai. Now, as the next general election is drawing near, the general is once again, it seems, frothing at the mouth at the prospect of lording over the country. The short-lived shotgun marriage recently between MQM-P and PSP clearly stirred him. He thought, for the briefest moment though, that whoever engineered the marriage would (naturally) turn to his doorstep next and beg him to lead the alliance. But then no sooner than the merger fizzled out did Musharraf also distance himself from the entire episode. Yet he did, somehow, stitch together an alliance of 23 parties — some of which have never even found their names to the press in all these years — and is set to come home all over again. It didn’t embarrass him in the least that two of the parties in his so called alliance, Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Majlis Wahdat-ul-Muslimeen (MWM), denied any such development. And with the treason case still hanging over his head, his (over) confidence could mean only one of three things. Gen Musharraf neither talked to the military nor just assumed that they will have his back if the night gets too dark again. It could be that he is still in the same frame of mind as 23 March 2013, when he laughed at reporters who cautioned him at a press conference in Dubai, and left for Pakistan the next morning, only to return three years later with his tail between his legs One, those that let him out the last time will guarantee his safety — from the long arms of the law as much as Taliban/al Qaeda bad guys. In that case, he must have been in contact with the brass for quite a while. It would have taken a number of meetings to iron out complexities of the cases, how to deal with them, and what to do about the political flak that will come, predominantly, from mainstream political parties PPP, PML-N and PTI. Two, he has not talked to him and is relying on them, just like last time, to save his skin should push come to shove. Last time, by the look of things, he was confident of a sea of people, approximately two hundred thousand, to greet him at the Karachi airport and then march to Mazar-e-Quaid for a historic address. The new chief, at the time, was his protégé of sorts in the military. And some, if not many, senior officers in the GHQ still had memories of serving somewhere under the commando-president. Yet the army was dragged into the unfortunate affair after all. And, loyal to the end, the army chief provided him all the cover he needed, but not to accomplish his dream of liberating Pakistan all over again, rather to leave the country before the treason case sent him behind bars. This time, hopefully, he’s not giving the number of his Facebook followers too much weightage with regards to Pakistan’s political future and his role in it. Yet he’s still prepared to play the deliverer again. Which brings us to possibility number three; that he’s neither talked to the military nor just assumed that they will have his back if the night gets too dark again. It could be that he is still in the same frame of mind as 23 March 2013, when he laughed at reporters who cautioned him at a press conference in Dubai, and left for Pakistan the next morning, only to return three years later with his tail between his legs. Gen Musharraf recently admitted that he missed the power of high office. “It was good for my ego”, he admitted. Could it be, that despite years of training as a commando, then his long stint as chief executive and then president of Pakistan, his ego is still getting the better of him? That he would risk plunging his future into uncertainty, because his sympathisers uncalled for troubles, and drag the military into another confrontation with the government — at a time when Nawaz Sharif is practically bending over backwards to provoke a slugfest between institutions — just to massage his own ego? Perhaps there’s another angle to the situation not immediately obvious to the onlooker, but arguing that Pervez Musharraf might be about to reinforce failure, despite his military training, would be a safe bet. The writer is the Managing Editor Daily Times, tweets @yourafiq and can be reached at email@example.com Published in Daily Times, November 20th 2017.