Many were shocked to hear some more truth from the Commando of yore. Yet some found it not surprising at all. Those who didn’t believe that he could tarnish the image of the executive, the judiciary and the army of the country he once ruled in such a ruthless manner, did it because of their belief that a former army chief can’t act so foolishly. But those who didn’t see any unusual thing in it had in their mind some of his old follies and his shortsightedness despite his occupying high offices and donning military uniform. The most frequent question asked soon after he claimed that the army and its then chief, Raheel Sharif, pressured and manipulated the government and judiciary to get him off the hook was how can he do that and what can be his purpose or purposes. This wasn’t difficult to know. But the sad fact unfortunately is that we no more believe anything which doesn’t fit in some great conspiracy theory. This didn’t. Because it was so devastating for everyone that no great planner or some greater clandestine context could be found to it. This was simply a mindless act of a non-thinking individual to achieve some very short-term personal objectives. And what could be those objectives? First, to embarrass the Nawaz Sharif government and settle some old and new political scores with it. Second, to tarnish the image of judiciary, which had not only become the cause of his downfall but which tried to publicly belittle him afterwards. Third, to remind the people that this is the army which still is the most powerful in the country. Really? Can he be so shortsighted? Yes. Why not? If a man sitting in the Chief of Army Staff’s seat of a nuclear power can plan and execute Kargil misadventure without informing the country’s prime minister, why can’t he be expected to do something like this? If someone can deliberately decide to loose everything attained for the country on diplomatic table for the sake only to appear blunt and defiant at a press conference, why can’t he do it? If someone can think that he can sent packing the whole of the judiciary and arrest all of its judges, can this be said to be unbecoming of him? If a military dictator can nurture Taliban within his own country to demonstrate to a superpower that if it didn’t support him, those can be the alternatives, why cant he be so stupid this time? If someone who became a ruler just because he abrogated the constitution and later charged with high treason can still come back to the country thinking he can rule its again because he has 0.5 million Facebook followers, what can be the limit to his follies? There are countless such examples but then a book, or books, will be needed to list and discuss them all. However, the above-mentioned few are more than enough to suggest that it was the urge of revenge that drove Musharraf into his trademark bravado mode. He also thought that it will serve the interests of the army that he once headed and ‘prove’ it the most powerful institution. For him ‘powerful’ means only when one can trample the rule of law and can demonstrate that he can get away with it. He didn’t know that the ensuing debate will not only be damaging to the army as an institution but that his uttering will cause a serious dent to the reputation of his benefactor, Raheel Sharif, who strived to build it with years of effort and propaganda. Ironically, when the dust was not yet settled fully over the army’s controversial role in this affair that another thoughtless development took place in Karachi when the Rangers raided the business office of a close friend of former President and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari just a little while before his arrival in the country. The purposes were clear; first, to send a message to the people that there was no understanding between the military and the PPP; second, to tell Asif Ali Zardari that the chief may be for three years but the army is here forever; and third, to make a dent into PPP’s defiant posturing and future prospects of a comeback. Though it was successful in conveying some of the messages, it was apparently forgotten by the planners that its timing may prove to be counterproductive, which can send totally the opposite message across. Had such raids continued during the weeks and months preceding Zardari’s return, they would go down well with the people, reinforcing their belief in the nonpartisan approach of the paramilitary force in the ongoing Karachi operation. Now, even if the action is proved to be legally correct at some later stage, it is widely be perceived to be politically wrong. And though it may negatively effect PPP’s efforts for revival and scare away potential supporters from joining it, it has also cast aspersions on the motives and of the military establishment as well. The raid has made it easier for the people to understand that the army is a political player, even if on the right side of morality and public interests. And that is not good for it in the long run. Pervez Musharraf’s statement and Rangers’ raid together have the potential to negatively affect the military’s PR exercise. These may compel it to adopt a more defensive posturing at a crucial time, i.e. the power transition within it. The Rangers’ raid may not have proved so damaging had it not come in the midst of a raging debate that followed Musharraf’s remarks. It seems that the political side will try to take benefit out of it. Though the PML-N and PPP will increase their pubic criticism on each other, they and the rest of political forces — excluding the PTI — will try to move in unison vis-a-vis the military as far as recapturing the political space and making room for the civilians in core areas of policy-making are concerned. The results and outcomes may not be to the liking of the military if it does not realise the call of the changing situation and continues acting like it used to. Keeping in view its involvement in the formulation of foreign and security policies, it will be a significant player in the decision-making process of the country in the foreseeable future. It’s better it plays its role more diligently and carefully. Or there is serious fear among certain circles that the dictatorial tendencies of certain politicians, coupled with their lust for money, can create a serious threat to the democratic project from within.