Facebook fracas over Musharraf

Facebook.com Just about everyone in Pakistan has an opinion about what former President Pervez Musharraf’s real legacy will be. To some, he’s a leader who successfully stared down violent extremists and reformed the economy. To others, he’s a common criminal who should be put on trial for enriching his friends in the military and for ...

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592908_080829_facebook5.jpg

Facebook.com

Just about everyone in Pakistan has an opinion about what former President Pervez Musharraf's real legacy will be. To some, he's a leader who successfully stared down violent extremists and reformed the economy. To others, he's a common criminal who should be put on trial for enriching his friends in the military and for being the willing pawn of the CIA.

Given such division, is it any wonder a fight over Musharraf's legacy has broken out in Facebook? A host of group pages have sprung up to either show support or lambast the former president. Pakistan's Daily Times reports:

Facebook.com

Just about everyone in Pakistan has an opinion about what former President Pervez Musharraf’s real legacy will be. To some, he’s a leader who successfully stared down violent extremists and reformed the economy. To others, he’s a common criminal who should be put on trial for enriching his friends in the military and for being the willing pawn of the CIA.

Given such division, is it any wonder a fight over Musharraf’s legacy has broken out in Facebook? A host of group pages have sprung up to either show support or lambast the former president. Pakistan’s Daily Times reports:

Some Facebook users say they appreciated his liberal economic policies and efforts against extremism. His fans include a number of young Pakistanis, many of them expatriates.

“Thank you Musharraf for all you have done for this nation and its people,” wrote Seema Ahmed from Los Angeles. Facebook fan Sherbano Ahmed said, “If we, as the silent majority, don’t speak up this time, then we have surrendered our decency and freedom to thieves.”

The idea that Western-style democracy is what Pakistan needs has also come under fire. “Fixing the system with American or UK systems will be mimickery at best and will produce thieves or even worse, third-rate actors,” said Shahedah Ahmed from London.

Their entries are found under headings like ‘The only hope – Musharraf’ and ‘Pakistan would be lost without Musharraf’. The anti-Musharraf groups were equally unsubtle – ‘Burn in hell Musharraf’ and ‘I hate Musharraf’.

And it appears that Pakistan’s PML-Q party, which has been so closely aligned with Musharraf that its HQ could be mistaken for his pocket, is now being wooed heavily by both Asif Ali Zardari’s PPP and Nawaz Sharif’s PLM-N. Here’s Nightwatch’s analysis on this ironic turn of events:

The PML-Q was the political organization formed by the Chaudhry brothers of Gujarat to represent the views of then General Musharraf in the National Assembly in the general elections of 2002. It was the biggest loser in last February’s general election.

One of the ironic and unintended outcomes from the collapse of the parliamentary coalition during the presidential election campaign is that a staunchly pro-Musharraf political party is the potential kingmaker in Pakistani politics.

Carolyn O'Hara is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.

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