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Chitral's politicians await drubbing from Musharraf

ISLAMABAD, March 2: It’s no news to say that chief of All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) and former president Gen Pervez Musharraf is a strong candidate in the upcoming general elections from Chitral. musharrafIt is again no news if we reiterate that Musharraf is well prepared, because he has already addressed Chitralis via Skype twice well before elections, making it sure to his opponents that he is still a hero in the rugged mountainous valley. The news, though, is that despite the AMPL’s strength, some chinks are visible in the veteran leader’s well-worn armour. That, however, may not necessarily lead to his defeat, but will certainly make the battle interesting. Musharraf is well aware of his popularity in Chitral and has already addressed Chitralis via Skype twice thereby ensuring that his candidacy remains a viable prospect in the rugged mountainous valley. Despite passage of nearly five years, Gen Musharraf is still a hero to the people of this neglected area, because he is the only leader in the 67-year history of the country, who opened the Lowari tunnel and thereby connected the valley with the rest of the country round the year. According to people of the area, nostalgia for former military general reached its peak when the elected government of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) diverted all the funds of Lowari tunnel to Multan, bringing the work of the mega project to a standstill. The people of Chitral told this correspondent that they could forgive corruption and nepotism and poor governance but could not forgive the PPP for trying to take credit for the tunnel by maintaining that work on it was first initiated by late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and later failing to complete the tunnel despite being in power for five years. The locals told this correspondent over the phone that people of Chitral are not ungrateful and wanted to pay for his [Musharraf] services to the area as he fulfilled his promise to the people by opening the Lowari tunnel – a lifeline for the people of landlocked scenic valley. Musharraf visited Chitral frequently during his stint in power especially during the annual Shandur polo tournament – a polo match played between Glilgit and Chitral polo teams every year in July. “Musharraf is the savior of Pakistan…long live Musharraf, we are with you, there is no leader of your caliber anywhere in the country. We miss you come soon [and] lead this beloved country Pakistan in the right direction”, said a diehard supporter of Musharraf, Nazir Khan, a teacher. Sher Azam Khan of Khuz village, a retired jawan of Chitral Scouts, said: “I have no interest in elections but this time I’ll campaign for Musharraf [as] he is the only leader who can turn around the destiny of the country”. Chitral has a good number of retired army and paramilitary personnel estimated at over 20,000 who, according to a retired army officer who wished not to be named, are the authentic voters of Musharraf. “These twenty-thousand pensioners are enough to ensure his success …these pensioners plus their families including the Ismaili community especially in upper Chitral, would guarantee his clean sweep,” he maintained. Besides, a large number of people belonging to Jamaat-i-Islami which has a strong presence in the valley, said: “We will vote for Musharraf come what may because today we can go to Peshawar [provincial capital] anytime by crossing the tunnel”. Haji Mohammad Yousaf, a staunch supporter of JI, said that he would vote for Musharraf despite his affiliation with a religious political party. “We should not be ungrateful as it is because of Musharraf we’ve been connected with the rest of the country, if [God forbid] we could not acknowledge his services, we will languish at the hands of these corrupt leaders till doomsday”, he added. Suleman Shah, a senior PPP stalwart perturbed over poor PPP performance, however, said that we should forget which party we come from, and the need the hour is that we must vote for those who paid attention to mitigate the poverty in the valley. “The Chitralis elected late Nusrat Bhutto which proved a blunder as she did not even attend the assembly sessions. Then PPP sent Pyar Ali Allana, a gentleman from Karachi. And now rumours are rife that PPP is all set to field Asma Alamgir, spouse of Arbab Alamgir, federal communication minister from Chitral…enough is enough, we will not let them fool us anymore”, he maintained. According to sources within the PPP provincial minister for population welfare, Salim Khan, who belongs to Chitral, is busy misguiding Asma Alamagir to run for National Assembly seat from Chitral. “Asma could be popular in Peshawar but in Chitral she is not”, said Javed Akbar, a PPP jiyala from Lone village. An anecdotal survey conducted by this correspondent revealed that Musharraf will certainly emerge as the member of parliament from Chitral, giving a humiliating defeat to all his opponent including the self-proclaimed hero of Chitral Mualana Abdul Akbar Chitrali.]]>

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  1. Ijaz, Kosht says

    Very well articulated piece, showing only one side of the picture. The only reason to vote Musharraf is the Lowari Tunell but there are many many reasons for not voting him. Even if he wins a seat from Chitral, what will he do for us? He will definitely join some other party. Five yeas ago, he was all in all in the country but now that is not possible for him and therfore he can’t do anything for us. I can’t understand the logic that the Ismaili commiunity will definitely vote Mushraaf, as the writer has mentioned? At least I will not.
    Kabi Bhooto, kabi Bibi and now Mushraff kab tak past ehsanon or symphaty k bunyad pa vote den ga??? akhirr hum kaab in sab se azad ho kar vote den ga.

  2. Nadir Khan, Karachi says

    How long you will be looking to others to lead you. In the past Chitralis voted for Nusrat Bhutto, Pyar Ali Allana as though they had no one to take the lead. Musharraf was a military dictator and Chitralis are dying for him saying he built the Lowari tunnel. Lowari tunnel was a military project. After Musharraf’s Kargil misadventure in which hundreds of Chitrali and Gilgiti military personnel were killed in 1999, the army decided to build the tunnel to have an-all-weather alternative route in case KKH is blocked during any future war with India. Do not be fooled that Musharraf built the tunnel for the poor Chitrali though it was their good luck that circumstances made it possible for launching of the project. I agree that we should give credit to Musharraf for the project for whatever resons it was launched. But my point is borrowing leaders from outside will not serve us in the long run.

    1. Imtiaz Ali, Booni says

      Mr friend Nadir Khan, answer my question. For how long the people of Chitral will be hoodwinked by their own leaders. Today when the people of Chitral want to vote for the former dictator it means they are fed up with their own leaders. Their own leaders failed to serve and protect their rights. I have my two uncles above 60 years of age and my father who say that even if Musharraf is a robber, criminal or thief they will be voting him for his services to Chitral. They do not understand the meaning of democracy like thing. What matters for them is that, for their whole life they have suffered humiliation and travelled to and from Chitral in winter putting their life at danger and facing humiliation at the hands of PIA staff, Afghan and Pashtun drivers and hoteliers etc. Now they feel relaxed and can travel to other parts of the country and back home anytime without any such sufferings. All this has been made possible only by one man. Long live Musharraf.

  3. Maqbool Hussain, Kishmanja (Sonnoghur) says

    The former military general ruled this unfateful country with an iron fist. We appreciate that he did a good job by opening the Lowari tunnel but he compromised on some things like construction of Kalabagh dam. The whole nation is suffering from the curse of loadshedding, which keeps on multiplying with the each passing day due to widening gap between supply and demand. The general with absolute power had the best opportunity to put all those behind bars and issue directives for construction of the mega water reservoir. But he went on prolonging his authoritarian rule by exploiting the politicians who seem rather for sure ever eager to change their loyalties. The Chaudharis of Gujrat took revenge from Nawaz Sharif, their former boss, by siding and facilitating the man in khaki. The smile of their face was worth noticing when the general used to show his fist. But when his rule was over, the Chaudhary cousins opted to join hands with their archrival Asif Ali Zardari. The Chitrali politicians who do not have the guts to lead the people will be automatically out when the general will land in Pakistan as the people of the area have become fed up with them. Salim Khan had the great opportunity but he opted to become rich by hook and by crook. Now he is a rich man after Prince Mohiuddin in Chitral. What else he needs, and this is the moto of all other politicians. In these circumstances, the Chitralis have the option but to side with Musharraf because he at least did something for them if not the whole country.

  4. Afzal, Islamabad says

    The Chitralis should make history by rejecting the corrupt lot, including Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali and Salim Khan. This could be the reason Salim Khan is instigating Asma Aalmgir from Peshawar to contest elections from Chitral in order to hide his own wrongdoings. Oh Salim, my dear accidental minister, it is your wishful thinking that the PPP will even get number 4 position in Chitral in the upcoming elections due to its anti-Chitralis attitude, especially the abandonment of the tunnel project. My advice to Salim Khan is that do not stop building castles in the air as your days are numbered. The moment corrupt PPP government is gone, Salim Khan will be the first one to take refuge in Canada. If he stays in Pakistan, he will be the first casualty of NAB investigators for corruption, nepotism etc. As far as our dear Maulana is concerned, his fate will be the GT Road in Peshawar once again, where he will be seen protesting, his favourit job. Prince Muhiuddin, the guru, once again will be lucky as he has already managed to stick to power by exploiting Musharraf’s popularity in Chitral.

    1. Faraz Anjum, Abbottabad says

      So right sir I must say very good comparison. You just forgot to mention our contractor-turned politician Alhaj Ghulam Mohammad. He will be back to his old job, supply of grain to Yarkhoon, Torkhow, Mukhow etc. The number of his Lorries, petrol pumps, jeeps, horses, donkeys etc will be doubled. Besides, he will carry on with the job quite efficiently misusing the tag of former MPA but we must ensure that a thorough investigation into uplift funds should be done. We must not let him escape as he equally enjoyed the dark nights power corridors. The PTI big boss in Chitral will go back to hills, where he comes as his prospects are also not quite favourable. The chief of Charun alias Charuno chief and my dear miki, I am very sorry to say that it will take time for you to be a politician as for honest people of caliber, it is totally different trade. I really take pity on you sir. And now how can I forget to mention Wing Commander (retd) Fardad Ali Shah. He is also a thorough gentleman. The PTI will be in a position at least if Mr Fardad was given a ticket for National Assembly from Chitral. But I do not think the party will give a chance to lead PTI from Chitral.

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