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The President Who Never Was

On the afternoon of June 20th, a confident but unsmiling Gen Pervez Musharraf embraced and saluted Rafiq Tarar as he showed him out of the door of the Presidential Mansion in Islamabad. Tarar had ceased to be President a short time earlier vide Chief Executive’s Order No. 3 called Succession Order 2001. To his credit, Rafiq Tarar showed some spunk and did not “resign for personal reasons” as he was most probably encouraged by the Khakis to do. Thereupon legal niceties dictated that Pervez Musharraf assume the office of the Presidency, in his own words at the subsequent oath-taking ceremony “reluctantly but in the supreme national interest”. With that transition, an aberration that had occupied the august President’s office for more than three years rode off into the sunset, in the words of Tarar’s son-in-law, Maj (Retd) Mubassharullah, “there is no need to scandalize when everything has been settled amicably in Islamabad”. In going into oblivion, Tarar joined almost all the former Presidents of Pakistan in failing to travel the whole course. Iskander Mirza was ousted by Ayub Khan, who in his turn was sent packing by Yahya Khan, the events of 1971 did Yahya in. Bhutto remained an executive President and a “Civilian Martial Law Administrator” for only a few months before he became PM, at his own volition, under an Interim Constitution. He was PM under the 1973 Constitution, amended beyond recognition, till ousted by his COAS Ziaul Haq in 1977, who himself died in a yet unexplained air crash eleven years later. Senate President Ghulam Ishaq Khan who succeeded Zia in 1978, outsmarted himself in 1993 and along with the PM was shown the door by the then COAS Gen Waheed, who honourably chose not to elevate himself to the Presidency despite the “call of destiny”. Farooq Leghari resigned honourably because he could not accept the dictation of “democratic” PM Mian Nawaz Sharif. Now Tarar has ridden off into the sunset and like any good Subaltern will probably never be heard of (or from) again, i.e. if he has the guts to risk losing his pension and the comfort that taxpayers will keep in coughing up to keep him comfortable in Presidential retirement for the rest of his life. To paraphrase Shakespeare’s Marc Antony during the funeral oration for Julius Caesar, “the good that men do is oft interred with their bones, the evil lives after them. So let it be with Tarar!”