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October 12, 2000


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E-Mail this column  to a friend G Parthasarthy

The private, personal thoughts of Pervez Musharraf

How time flies. It's now a year since Aziz, Mehmood and Usmani (Lt General Aziz Khan then chief of general staff, Lt General Mehmood Ahmed, then corps commander, Rawalpindi and Lt General Muzaffar Usmani, corps commander Karachi) sent that upstart Nawaz Sharif packing to where he really belongs -- the Attock jail. I am glad that I had told Mehmood to keep the 111 Brigade ready to move and take over the country at short notice before I left for Colombo.

General Aslam Beg after all took nearly four hours to deal with Prime Minister Mohammed Khan Junejo when Zia asked him to put that pesky civilian in his place in 1987. My boys took over the television station in Islamabad and the whole country in 15 minutes. But, alas taking over the country was so much easier than governing it.

People really welcomed me as a hero when I took over despite my announcing the takeover in English. (It's a pity I did not take my Urdu classes seriously). But ruling these indisciplined civilians is such a messy affair. I was confident that once I was seen by western television audiences in slacks and shirt-sleeves, with my family and dogs, I would be welcomed as one of them. But rather than welcoming my openness and desire to win international recognition, that upstart Qazi Husain Ahmad (Amir of the Jamat e Islami), who owes his existence to the patronage of General Zia and the ISI, proclaimed my fondness for my dogs as un-Islamic. He even took exception to my expressing admiration for the secularism of Kemal Attaturk.

I thought that as my dog, like Clinton's, is named "Buddy" the president and I would soon become "buddy-buddy." For some strange reason, this did not happen. Clinton seemed to have other things on his mind like Osama bin Laden, the rights of women in areas controlled by our Taliban brethren, the restoration of democracy and our support for the jehad and jehadis in Kashmir. Those civilians in the foreign office tell me that the Indians have some new weapon called Information Technology that has greatly impressed Clinton and the Americans. If A Q Khan could purloin nuclear technology from the Netherlands, how come we have not been able to similarly get parity with the hegemonic Indians in this sphere?

I had to find someone trustworthy and sharp to head the ISI instead of that ghaddar Ziauddin (Lt General Ziauddin), who was stupid enough to believe that I would allow him to replace me, merely because Nawaz Sharif chose him. Having executed the takeover on my behalf, Mehmood was a logical choice. But he is an ambitious chap. I think the best course would to "promote" him as a four star vice-chief, like Generals Arif and Aslam Beg were promoted by Zia. I will, of course, retain effective power like Zia did. I will not make the same mistake like Ayub, who relinquished direct control of the army and the ISI. Look at what Yahya did to Ayub when he threw out his mentor!

Ayub and Zia decided to stay on in power by promising "grass-roots democracy" through elections to local bodies. This meant that while people could elect representatives empowered to repair drainage systems, my Punjabi comrades in arms would continue to rule the country. I decided that it would be better to kill two birds with one stone by devolving power to the district administration. The feudals could be persuaded to participate in elections to district councils. At the same time the power of provincial governments would be curtailed and demands from the troublesome Mohajirs, Sindhis, Baluchis and Pathans for provincial autonomy neutralised.

It's a pity that this scheme has been rejected not only by mainstream political parties and by nationalist groups. But I intend to proceed, regardless of all this. I know the feudals are a terrible lot, but one has to be prepared to even sup with the devil to retain the gaddi. I think I should get Mehmood and the ISI to ensure that there is enough support for what I am planning to do. Perhaps I can offer the ISI some more plots of land in Lahore and Karachi as an added incentive. Nothing pleases my fellow faujis more than laying their hands on more land. But unless I proceed discreetly, the insufferable Qazi Hussain will again start screaming that the army is the biggest real estate agency in Pakistan. He is already screaming about plots in Lahore that Amjad (Lt General Amjad Khan who was in charge of dealing with cases of political corruption), Khalid Maqbool (corps commander, Lahore) and I have been recently allotted for our services to the nation.

Things are becoming complicated externally. After Clinton refused to be impressed by my charms, Sattar told me that I must waylay Putin at the Millennium Summit in New York. I thought Putin was suitably impressed by me when he sent an envoy to meet me recently. But look at what these terrible Russians have done. They have not only held us and our Taliban allies responsible for regional and global terrorism, but also demanded that we should respect the sanctity of that awful Line of Control in Kashmir. And to make matters worse, they are pouring in sophisticated arms to our hegemonic neighbour.

I must speak to Javed (information adviser Javed Jabbar) and Rafiq (Major General Qureishi, spokesman) and tell them that they should brief the media on how I have imparted new dynamism to our foreign policy and won new friends and allies. It's a pity that the Dawn revealed that no one supported my views or position in New York. I should get Zulfiqar (Lt General Zulfiqar Ali Khan, chairman, Electricity Authority, WAPDA) to raid their offices again to check their electricity meters.

The Indians are becoming really impossible. They refuse to talk to me or even recognise me. They refuse to forget statements I made about why low intensity conflict with India would continue even if the Kashmir issue is resolved and my view that the Lahore Declaration and Simla Agreement are meaningless. More importantly, they seem to be determined to neither forget nor forgive my role in Kargil. Thank heavens our soldiers who were killed in Kargil were not from Lahore or Sialkot. It's easy to proclaim victory and bury soldiers from Gilgit and Baltistan without military honours. But, Punjabis are a different kettle of fish in Pakistan. There is precious little I can do to meet Indian, Russian and American demands and call off the Kashmir jehad. I personally don't like the idea and some of my corps commanders and patrons like Hamid Gul (former head of the ISI) would call it a sellout. We do, after all, enjoy "bleeding" the Indians.

There are really no easy choices in leading Pakistan. The economy cannot be revived in the foreseeable future. My honeymoon with the people was all too brief. So, I guess I will have to start looking for an exit strategy. This should not be too difficult as there is no dearth of politicians who would love to ride to power on the shoulders of the army. I guess I can get Ejaz ul Haq, Imran Khan, one of the Chaudhrys, or preferably some Sindhi or Baluchi, to agree to become prime minister, while I work out details of how I can replace old man Tarar and become president. We can then pull the strings from behind the curtains and hold the politicians responsible for all the country's woes, as we did in the past. Power without accountability to our people is, after all, what we in the army like best.

G Parthasarathy was India's high commissioner to Pakistan when General Musharraf took over power in Islamabad on October 12, 1999.

G Parthasarathy

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