With a growing opposition backed call expressing scepticism over the credibility of next month’s parliamentary elections in Pakistan, President Pervez Musharraf’s already beleaguered position is bound to weaken further.

The Pakistani president who has fought one political battle after another since his decision to suspend Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Chief Justice of the Pakistani supreme court, last year shows few signs of conceding failure.

At a time when he needs to stay at home and essentially sort out the proverbial political mess all around the country, Musharraf has left for a European trip. His objective appears to be that of reaching out to political leaders as well as key business figures in an apparent bid to overcome at least part of the global anxiety over Pakistan’s future.

Musharraf’s choices in the recent past and now his apparent intentions in the coming future are bound to leave his own ruling order further rudderless. Even his foray into foreign lands will do little to help him deal with the challenge at home.

The upcoming elections already appear suspect amid concerns over the quality of the environment surrounding the polls. Scenario building of whatever kind leaves few indications that the elections will help Pakistan avert the possibility of fast mounting uncertainty.

If indeed opposition parties gain enough seats to somehow form the government, their relationship with Musharraf will be fraught with many difficulties from day one.

In such a political outcome, the possibility of a deadlock between the president and elected representatives creeping in to Pakistan’s future order from day one can just not be excluded.

On the other hand, a victory for the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q) from day one must also be a recipe for disaster.

Given the scepticism over Musharraf’s overall conduct, opposition parties are bound to claim from day one that the PML-Q which is the only pro-Musharraf party, won the polls due to manipulation and rigging.

Acceptability of such an outcome which will be suspect from day one will soon become the cause for Pakistan’s next political crisis.

Dead end

With a potential dead end within sight, now more than ever before, the argument for Musharraf’s departure from the scene, is essentially gaining ground day by day. Not too long ago, Musharraf’s supporters and backers were eager to describe him as the best hope for Pakistan’s future.

But the accumulated backlog of controversial choices has only raised questions over Musharraf being the torch bearer of Pakistan’s best possible future outlook.

It is indeed true that abrupt change can take Pakistan well in to the realm of the unknown, raising profound questions over the future at a time when the past and the present appear to give few reasons for hope.

However, a return to the guidelines laid down in Pakistan’s constitution may well be the best choice in taking the country back to democracy and indeed popular representation.

In contrast, Musharraf often takes pride for his track record as Pakistan’s best democratic leader, having overseen the parliament complete its five year term recently.

Other so called progress measures boasted by Musharraf include provisions to substantially increase the representation of women in the federal and the provincial legislatures.

But an essential question must follow. Exactly at what cost has Musharraf overseen what he claims to be his success stories?

During his eight year tenure since he seized power in a bloodless military coup in 1999, Musharraf’s rule has seen a consistent weakening of the democratic order which once worked as an essential arm of Pakistan’s democratic political order.

Civil administration in the districts across Pakistan has been replaced by elected representatives under a new, so called devolution order carved together during Musharraf’s time in office.

This step was essentially taken to provide Pakistan’s military dominated politics with an opportunity to find political followers from within the community of the newly elected grass root politicians.

At the end of the end, more corruption at the grassroots has become the norm for average Pakistanis while the president insists that he has delivered a high quality democracy to the country.

Other examples of failure masked as success are found aplenty in Musharraf’s long tenure. Its not surprising that even those who found in him a breath of fresh air now include many who are eager to see him, essentially for Pakistan to make a new beginning.

Farhan Bokhari is a Pakistan-based commentator who writes on political and economic matters.