October 28, 2010

He always was, still is, the staff-officer version of that ultimate Pakistani strongman; he always did remind us all of Maula Jatt. I remember the videos of him brusquely berating a woman who confronted him at a New York event when he was in power. Once, when asked at one of his early press conferences how long it will be, I remember him saying, “It will take as long as necessary.” And even much later, even at the launch of his political party, he invoked raw street humour.

Which is why it was even more startling to hear General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, NI(M), TB, in the midst of a triumphal and rally-the-troops (and tweeps) speech kicking off his civilian political career a few weeks back, deliver the following simple words:

Mai is mauqe pe Pakistan ki awam se muazrath khwa hoon.”

Which in English would translate simply to: “On this occasion, I seek forgiveness from the people of Pakistan.”

That was rare. One is tempted to say classy.

I yield to no one on being unforgiving for the sins of Pervez Musharraf. But whatever else you think of the guy and the people that follow him, the October 2010 apology above is a very, very rare thing for any politician anywhere, spoken as it is on the way up, rather than at a point where one is cornered into it. Indeed, it is rare for anyone to apologize to the Pakistani people without, as we say in Pakistan, having one’s game piece stuck. Just look at what it took to get our most allied ally to apologise for killing any of our citizens.

You know, it’s not a bad idea: in this age of setting aside days to highlight things we think are wrong with the world, maybe we should have an “World Apologize to the Pakistani People Day.” Might make for a more peaceful world.

What say?