20 April, 2021

'I Anoint Me,' He Writ

Musharraf may have won a sham mandate, but it may have only damaged his aspiration to legitimacy

'I Anoint Me,' He Writ
It was a race only one man was running. It was a race he couldn't lose. But what the nation wanted to see was the kind of turnout Gen Pervez Musharraf's referendum on his presidency could attract, and the percentage of 'Yes' votes he could secure. The exercise was akin to a sprinter racing against the clock to set a world record. And Musharraf, now Pakistan's president for the next five years, has definitely achieved the best ever for a Pakistani.

On May 1, it was official: Musharraf had won what he couldn't lose. The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) announced that 43.9 million people had cast their vote in the April 30 referendum; of this, a whopping 97.47 per cent had cast a vote in favour of Musharraf continuing as president for the next five years. For the statistically-inclined, Nawaz Sharif's party had bagged just 8.8 million votes countrywide in the 1997 elections. During Gen Zia-ul-Haq's referendum, there were only 30 million voters, 18 million less than the votes Musharraf polled. You can't better this, can you?

Some might wonder why the CEC hadn't issued the...

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