When Pakistan’s former military ruler and president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, returned home last week from four years of self-imposed exile, a physician-turned- entrepreneur from Villanova was by his side. Raza Bokhari, a 1991 immigrant from Pakistan turned highly successful businessman and civic activist, describes himself as “a long term friend of Musharraf’s, and his current point of contact in the USA.”
In a phone interview from Islamabad, Bokhari said Musharraf returned to participate in upcoming May 2013 Pakistani elections – despite death threats, huge legal challenges, and an uncertain political future. He says the former president is “a brave man” but “it’s too early to tell” how things will turn out.
Musharraf resigned in 2008 under threat of impeachment and still faces various legal charges in Pakistan, for which he received pre-trial bail. His legacy is full of haunting contradictions.
Once admired by Pakistan’s liberal elite - despite the fact that he had seized power in a 1999 coup - Musharraf’s reputation declined after he tried to dismiss the country’s chief justice in 2007. He battled Islamic extremists after 9/11, yet insisted Osama bin Laden was not hiding in his country (could he really not have known?). He started the disastrous Kargil conflict with India as army commander in 1999. Yet as president he engaged in secret and substantive talks with India to end the conflict over Kashmir – talks that were ended by his resignation.