“!http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/images/2006/mush_in_the_line_of_fire.jpg!”:http://www.amazon.com/Line-Fire-Memoir-Pervez-Musharraf/dp/0743283449/sr=1-1/qid=1159172750/ref=sr_1_1/104-0735866-8419915?ie=UTF8&s=books In the days of mashups, this book is fittingly Web 2.0: A misture of several old speeches, an infomercial and a biography all rolled into one. For the low, low price of Rs. 1295 you get 3 books all rolled up into one nifty hardcover!
It is a good book, worth reading, but there is just way too much self congratulation by the “author”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pervez_Musharraf – it reads less like a book and more like a few long speeches joined together in an attempt to convince the western world of Musharaff’s indispensability for the next few years. For people following Pakistani news there is really nothing new in the book, but it serves as a good enscapulation of the big M’s viewpoint.
More horrifyingly, for the Pakistani public at large, is how Musharraf is well on his way to becoming the Fidel Castro of Pakistan. From the book you get the impression that everything good happening in Pakistan is because Musharraf did it – the rest of the country is just there to serve as the feeble minded sidekick to Musharraf’s heroism.
Case in point is Musharaff’s stance on womens rights. In his book he completely glosses over his many failing and trumps himself as their saviour. This is the same person who callously insulted rape victims and accused them of getting raped in order to apply for Canadian asylum. After much international hue and cry he was forced to change his public viewpoint on this – all of which is completely ignored in this book. Musharraf talks a lot about women rights, but his actions prove otherwise. The “Hudood Ordinance”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hudood_Ordinance remains in force despite Musharraf stating proudly seven years ago that he would repeal it! When cornered about this, he threw the issue to the wolves, and refused to do anything about it. Musharraf can change the course of the nation singlehandedly, but when it comes to human rights he says his hands are tied by something called parliament. Reality check – in a dictatorship, there is no such thing as parliament. Musharraf allows foreign countries to bomb Pakistan “on and off”:http://www.dawn.com/2006/10/31/top1.htm, and parliament can’t even discuss this, but when it comes to human rights he can’t do anything without their permission.
Same with other issues – he writes about Kargil very proudly, but completely glosses over the fact that he started a mini war for no better reason than because he thought he would ‘win’ and give the Indian’s a black eye in the process. He gets worked up in the book about Nawaz Sharif stopping his good fun fighting it out in the mountains and really goes on and on against Nawaz on how he (Musharaff) was ‘winning’ and Nawaz ‘spoiled’ everything by stopping the mini-war. There is nothing about what would have happened after Musharraf’s ‘victory’. A larger land offensive? A nuclear war? All Musharraf talks about is the smaller context of a few hills in Kashmir, with a few hundred thousand troops on either side just waiting to duke it out.
I had written this about Musharraf “earlier”:http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/pakistan/2003_08/musharraf_self_styled_saviour_stuck_in_a_rut.html:
bq. Any good that he has done was before his feeble and misguided attempts to implement some warped form of democracy. This is not an obituary, but I fear that the time is near for the end of a benign dictatorship and we will soon be writing about the birth of yet another tin horn dictator.
That is happening now – perhaps not quite Musharraf the dictator, but certainly Musharraf as the “Fidel Castro” of Pakistan is emerging. At one time he used to talk about “taking off” his uniform, but that old Musharraf is now gone, as the book shows.
A few politicians in Pakistan are going around crying themselves hoarse that Musharraf revealed “state secrets” in the book, but they must have lived the past many years under a rock, or have the IQ of one. Yet others are in a huff and puff because Musharraf puts down a couple of former Pakistan leaders – “Bhutto “:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zulfikar_Ali_Bhutto and “Zia-ul-haq”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_Zia-ul-Haq as the worst things to happen to Pakistan. Well, Bhutto and Zia were the worst things to ever happen to Pakistan – Bhutto was a smart cookie all right, but as they say, the biggest anti-intellectual is the intellectual, and Bhutto was living proof of that – while Zia was a mental midget who finished the mess Bhutto had started making of Pakistan.
There are many reviews floating about the net, but I found most of them blast the book wrongly. A pet peeve is Musharraf’s bad mouthing the last two elected Prime Ministers – Benazir and Nawaz. Well, one could fill volumes about the sins of the last two elected governments and their leaders. For most people, the govts. of Benazir and Nawaz were bad, really really bad, so bad that even a military dictator is heaps better than them.
Another, more chilling revelation is Musharraf’s casual telling of the creation of his own political party under “Chaudhry Shujaat”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaudhry_Shujaat_Hussain. Everyone knew already, but in the book Musharraf casually talks about whole sale political manipulation, bribery and other unsavoury things like it was a regular part of his job. Another sign of his increasing divorce with reality is his calling the Chaudhry brothers “good men”. This is similar to calling “George W. Bush”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_W._Bush a great president. Both statements are so blatantly wrong that the people saying them must have a thin grip on reality. Despite Musharraf’s repeated assurances throughout the book that he is Pakistan’s very own superman, all dolled up in the red, white and blue courtesy Bush, leading the country to greatness, reality says otherwise, and the book actually lowers my opinion of him by a couple of notches.