Pakistan - In Search of a Messiah
Technically this book is my memoirs. In essence, it is a record of my perceptions of those consequential events that shaped the history of Pakistan.
A greater part of this history I have seen, lived with and felt as a reasonably literate and sensitive individual. Sensitivity intensifies compassion as well as pain. I have had more than a fair share of both.
I was a college student when Ayub Khan declared his Martial Law. I was a captain when he left. I had taken part in 1965 and 1971 Indo- Pak wars. I was a major and part of the degraded Army in erstwhile East Pakistan. I was a prisoner of war for the two longest years of my life in India. As I grew in age and rank I became more and more aware and involved in the National affairs. I was one of the first ones outside Musharraf’s inner circle to know about the reality of Kargil. I saw him take over the country. I retired with the hope that he would deliver and put Pakistan back on a historic course to real democracy. It was not because I had great faith in his abilities. But I thought as I do even today that a genuine man on top is worth many a hypocritical genius.
As individual perceptions can vastly vary, I do not expect complete agreement with my thoughts and arguments. I was a great fan of Bhutto in late sixties and early seventy. By mid seventy-one I was completely disillusioned with him. There are people in Pakistan who still love Bhutto and many who exploit his name and continue to befool his admirers. Similarly my opinion about others may not necessarily reflect popular perceptions. One reads what one likes to read. Feelings and reactions that events evoke are a slave to a host of factors ranging from socio-religious to political and parochial motivations. Mark Twain said, “ The very ink with which history is written is merely fluid prejudice”. Still no conclusion is wholly devoid of truth as no interpretation mirrors the whole truth. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had said, ‘difference of opinion is a sign of strength in my nation’. Difference of opinion encourages healthy discourse and analysis leading to useful lessons. We may ‘agree to disagree’. This is how I see this book. It is open to divergent views.
In quoting my personal interaction with people I have avoided mentioning names. The aim was to build or support a contention and not to compromise identities, embarrass a source or malign a person. Where praise was due I would not be found wanting in enthusiasm.
Lieutenant General (Retired) Chauhdry Iftikhar Ali Khan, (late) was secretary defense in Nawaz Sharif’s second tenure as the prime minister. He was a long-term golfing partner. He was in particular very kind to me and shared his thoughts on national and military matters and events during golfing sessions on daily basis. He often regretted his decision to support Musharraf for his bid in becoming the Army Chief. When Musharraf took over the Country, Iftikhar was ousted. The next day a senior retired general suggested I find a new foursome. I told him bluntly that I did not change my golf partners with the change in government. I thought Musharraf would never consider my playing golf with general Iftikhar as a hostile act. Some of those near him were however, not so generous.