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A book by any serving head of the state is obviously going to be discussed to the bone, with every comma and semi colon analyzed and discussed. However, I hope that the President’s team is following the debate over the book very closely and hopefully picking up the signs, dangerous as they may be. Five years down the line General Mushraff might find himself bemoaning the date the book was launched and consider it the beginning of the end. Just what am I talking about? Read all about it in my weekly column in the POST entitled Fire, Fire and more Fire.
The present Pakistani government with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz at the helm of the financial affairs have followed a steadily expanding privatization policy. Let me confess from the very onset that I am a strong supporter of privatization. My whole perspective on privatization can be summed up in this oft quoted question : Why are whales extinct and cows aren’t ? Well because no one owns whales. “However, I am convinced that the process that is being labeled as privatization presently is anything but. Privatization means breaking monopolies not creating them. Privatization involves open bidding and the winner would be the highest bidder not the hidden one. Privatization means that the government gets out of the business of being in business. It does not mean that the government formulates policies for one individual or company.
Therefore, although I stand for privatization per se, in Pakistan I stand with the anti privatizers .
I will close with one example. The Pakistan Telecommunication Corporation Limited (PTCL) shares have been sold to the Dubai based Estilaat. While there a number of gray areas in the deal one is : the GoP has promised Estilaat that no new permits will be issued to private telephone companies for the next twenty five years thus creating a monopoly.
This is not privatization in the interests of citizens.
One has to give it to General Sahab. He plays to the galleries beautifully. His Line of Fire reads like an Indian movie script. Theres the trauma of partition. the train that amidst chaos and trauma brought him to the newly formed state of Pakistan, there is the childhood where he writes about his Turkey and Karachi days, his girl next door romances with the girls ‘always making the first move’ the growing up of a boy to a man at the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) and the drama…. Oh yes.. The high speed car chases, the ‘three ton Mercedes being airborne’ the loyal army, the humor in the face of crises… What are my dogs’ names…? Dot and buddy sir…
Theres everything. The only thing that is missing in the book is Sheba and Mush dancing around trees but I guess that will come in the sequel .For now we have to be content with Mush and Sheba in front of the Taj Mahal.
The book is certainly compelling reading. One of the compulsions is of course the heavy price tag. If I pay almost thirteen hundred for a book, I bloody well read it even if it is crap.Which Line of Fire is certainly not.
Ghost written by Hamayun Gauhar and if rumor is to be believed by a prominent Islamabad based female defense and security analyst, this book can best be described as a compilation of newspaper articles, speeches and interviews of the President. Apart from five or six pages, there is nothing that an average newspaper reader does not know.
Kargil…. Yes heard that story before but Mush’s account is certainly interesting when read side by side by Jaswanat Singh’s account of Kargil in his book A call to honor which like Mush’s book has been labeled as a pack of lies. Who’s lying the least, is what my question is.
A. Q Khan… Yes have heard the story before so nothing new there.
The Colombo return flight. Yes heard that story before.
No wonder that most part of the book seem to jar a bit. In other words, the book, particularly the first half does not flow. It leaves the impression that it is cut paste job. However, the style of writing improves in the second part of the book. As stated earlier, there is nothing majorily new revealed in the book, not withstanding the ‘back to the stone age ‘ remark which I am at least inclined to believe.
Armitage just by his very appearance looks like a bar bouncer.. All he needs is a tight black shirt, denims and dark glasses to complete the look.
Anyways in addition to the Stone Age remark, what is new information in the book are the details of how we got our current Prime Minister. Mush baby writes,’
I did not discuss any of this with Shaukat Aziz.He was simply presented with a fait accompli.On the day Jamali resigned; Shaukat was in Rawalpindi setting a huge cache of narcotics on fire. Driving back to Islamabad, he received a call from my chief of staff, who without telling him why asked him to go immediately to Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.’ And good luck to you.’ My chief of staff said at the end of the conversation .Shaukat was nonpullsed.When he got there, Chaudhry Shujaat remained mum because I had told him not to reveal anything until jamali formally announced his resignation .Shaukat Aziz was told only that the prime minister had resigned. I had also requested that when Jamali announced his resignation he should inform the nation that Shaukat Aziz would be Prime Minister and Ch. Shujaat would hold the office for only an interim period. This Jamali failed to do, for whatever reason. I telephoned Shujaat and told him to call a press conference immediately and give the whole plan to the nation. That is when Shaukat discovered that he had been ear marked for the second hottest seat in Pakistan. “’
This is how in Mush’s real democracy Prime Ministers are chosen.
Another revealing statement is related to what went through Mush’s mind when he was pondering over what to do post Sep 11. Mush baby writes,’
I knew that there would be an adverse reaction in the NWFP bordering Afghanistan, for obvious reasons.Sindh especially Karachi would be neutral or lukewarm . If I could make the Punjabis understand why I went with the United States they would understand me. Why unnecessarily take on a superpower and for what? The Punjabis are a pragmatic lot. As for Karachi which has many seminaries some of which run by extremists from the Frontier province, there certainly would be some street protests. But the bulk of Karachi’s people would not support it. So my considered opinion ,based on the ethos of the country and the inclinations of the people I knew so well, was that there was no bearable reaction or street protests’
Notice something ? The reaction of Sindh is considered. The reaction of NWFP also as well as that of Punjab. However, Balochistan, what its concerns are, how will it react is not even mentioned let alone considered. Although Balochistan shares a border with Afghanistan as well as history. Revealing.
Balochistan and its current turmoil are not at all mentioned. Mush baby thought it prudent to mention the water sports complex that he developed at Mangla, the promotion of sports in the country, mentioned his East Pakistan Bengali sweetheart but failed to mention Balochistan. It must be wonderful to have your prioritizes in life so clear.
All said and done, there are hundred and one points on which I can disagree with Mush. But on one thing I would have to agree with him a hundred percent, whole heartedly.
The dedication of the book. He dedicates the book to ” the people of Pakistan – those who toil, sacrifice and pray for their country and who wait patiently for a better future. They deserve a committed and self less leadership ‘ General Sahib has not told us as to where this ‘committed and self less leadership ‘ would come from?
A friend forwarded me a brillant article on Pak-India peace overtures against the backdrop of the recent Mush-Manmohan meeting. Some excerpts are :
The times when we have had uninterrupted periods of peace were when Pakistan has been obsessed with its own problems (in the 1970s, after the
Bangladesh war, for instance). Even now, the only reason why a reasonable General Musharraf came to meet Manmohan Singh in Havana, abandoning the hectoring rhetoric he employed in
New York last year, is because he’s in deep trouble at home. The mullahs want to kill him. Balochistan could explode. Civil society is restive. And the whole world has finally begun to accept India’s line that Pakistan is the centre of global terrorism — especially after all those arrested over the attempted London plane bombings turned out to have Pakistani connections.
Take a look!
Pakistan already had three female fighter pilots in the Pakistan Air Force. However, we now have a female Sword of Honour who passed out from the Air Force Academy. Cadet Saira Amin made history last week when she got this honour.
Heres to her with the hope that we have thousands of Saira Amins all over the country.
The week has been crazy .I ‘ve been trying to write a report titled,“ Federalism in Pakistan :The Liberal perspective” .As the week ended, I finally managed to pass it to the designer to make it all nice and pretty. Also trying to juggle newspaper articles deadlines…. these deadlines will be the death of me one day.
However, I did manage to steal off some quality time for myself during the week and visit the Lok Virsa Museum which also goes by the name of the Heritage Museum.
Excellent . It is excellent.It depicts Pakistani lifestyles and culture beautifully.All the four provinces are represented, there is a corner for the outstanding women of Pakistan , there are artisans at work , there is Kalash and the Northern Areas. Thankfully there is no Kashmir! A Freudian slip or ???? Hmm…
Jinnah is shown having tea with Rana Liaqat Ali Khan , the wife of the First Prime Minister of Pakistan , with Jinnah ‘s sister Fatima Ali Jinnah standing at the side.What I liked about all this was the attention to detail although Jinnah ‘s white kurta could do with a wash!
On the whole very nice and the ticket is extremely nominal…pay thirty rupees and you get a grand tour of Pakistan’s culture. Its a pity that they don’t have a website.
Taking photographs is not allowed. Pity.
Next time in Islamabad, your first stop should be the Lok Virsa.