Musharraf in a hurry to be recorded in the history’

Musharraf in a hurry to be recorded in the history

By Lana Mahdi
An expert on Pakistan affairs and a veteran journalist has questioned the timing of releasing the memoirs of General Pervez Musharraf, In the Line of Fire, saying the Pakistani President was probably ‘in a hurry to be recorded in the history’due to the present volatile situation in the region.

Ashraf Shad, the Al Ain based senior Australian journalist of Pakistani origin who is credited with a number of books on Pakistani politics, gives credence to criticism which questions Musharraf's decision to publish the memoirs even though he happens to be a sitting President and chief of the army.

“The book is not about the political philosophy or statesmanship, it is the revelation of political and defence manoeuvres. This should not have been released until retirement from official positions,” says Ashraf who won Prime Minister's Literary Award in 1998 from the Pakistan Academy of Letters for his novel ‘Bewatan’‚ (Homeless).

“President Musharraf is under tremendous pressure from his allies and foes both. His relationship has become fragile with the USA and uncertainties prevail with neighbours in north and the east.

At home, rebels and political opposition are mounting pressures and some partners in the ruling clique are getting uncomfortable. He (President) knows he may not get a better time to be recorded in the history,” he opined.

Ashraf Shad, who has worked as a journalist in Pakistan until 1980, quotes the cases of many Pakistani journalists who were accused of violating the Official Secrets Act for publishing some government documents in their newspapers during the time of another military ruler, Gen Zia-ul- Haq.

“The journalists were persecuted for their professional acts, for revealing secret information that they thought was in public interest. But what about the guardians of secrets who are revealing clandestine state functions from the position of authority?” questions Mr. Shad.

He disregarded the suggestion that the motive behind publishing the memoirs at this time could have been monetary gains.

“Bestsellers in the West make millions. But I don't think money is the motive for Gen Musharraf. He has been clean in this account so far. I think he likes to be in the limelight and knew this was the right time to score a hit with the international media. Nobody would want yesterday's news,” said Ashraf Shad who is also the Executive Producer for the Australian public broadcaster SBS Radio Sydney.

He has been the Editor of a political weekly in Pakistan during the seventies and has written 6 books including his research on the world media.