By Aamir Ghauri
LONDON: Telling the truth has never been the forte of Pakistani leaders, ruling or retired, political or marshal. And those who are ruled remain fully aware of the maladies their rulers suffer from. Hardly the ruled hold malice towards their rulers for being so fickle but hope flickers nonetheless in their broken hearts that a day would dawn when their governors would feel proud in sharing the tales of their nocturnal shenanigans with Pakistan’s lesser beings. After all they rule in their name.
So many in London believe that Pervez Musharraf, the former president of Pakistan, did not need to sell his trip to Britain as a worthwhile national exercise during which he was billed to “address at British think tanks or speak at the Cambridge University.” After all he is a bygone general and a pensioner president and thus “reserves every right to enjoy himself in his private life.” Incidentally, that is exactly what Mr Musharraf is doing in Britain these days — partying. Or precisely put he is discussing Pakistan, personalities, politics and presents over innocent gulps of white wine or choiced whiskies. On Friday night, he was once again with his “buddies” like Brigadier (retd) Niaz, former Pakistani prime minister Shaukat Aziz, television presenter P J Mir and a few more at the London home of Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, one of the most-known Pakistani lawyers and a former Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s minister and confidant. And discussions scattered all over the place — from the recent terrorist attacks on Mumbai which the former Pakistani prime minister thought was nothing but “intelligence failure’ of the Indian authorities to more mundane issues like what rain jackets would be presented to the former president before he leaves for Pakistan.
The room resonated with laughter when Musharraf reminisced about his younger days when he successfully participated in shooting competitions and “came third” in at least one. There were suggestions that Musharraf at least be invited to Shaukat Aziz’s New York flat “as it has a balcony from where one can see the Hudson River or even the La Guardia airport.” They shared notes on London restaurants for a steak and if the dine out should be a Chelsea number or the Michelin-winner Knightsbridge Indian restaurant “Amaya” in the Motcomb Street. Aziz shared his “joy” with the party for not being required to pay the Pakistani yellow cab drivers in the United States once recognised as the former
prime minister of their country. Who would not like to burst out laughing over such folksy remarks? So all did.
Earlier on Thursday, Pervez Musharraf did travel to Cambridge — but not to give a talk at the university. Only to share similar lighter moments at a golf course owned by a Pakistani, a few miles outside the town. All was smooth as silk at the centuries-old converted barn cushioned among lush green lawns barring a few toughies who wanted to ask the former president about the war on terror and the mess he had left in the tribal areas of Pakistan.
So be it at the Windsor home of P J Mir or at Brigadier (retd) Niaz’s Richmond pad or alternatively at the plush homes of rich Pakistanis in London, Musharraf parties on before leaving for Pakistani in the next few days. Interestingly, a large number of British Pakistanis have always liked him — more so after his departure. With Pakistan deep in chaos and Zardari-Gilani duo seemingly lost in the power corridors, many here believe Musharraf might reappear — if not on the political scene then may be on the back of Pakistani trucks plying between Peshawar and Karachi — just like one of his coup-making predecessor.
The News, 30/11/2008