Citizen Musharraf talks peace

His folks at Islamabad had tried to dissuade him from visiting India, said Gen. (retd.) Pervez Musharraf.  He knew we would ask him combative questions. That he  chose to come nonetheless, and stood his ground at a Q & A session in New Delhi, Saturday last, earned him a standing ovation.  His audience included our former army chief Gen. (retd.) V P Mallik,  J & K’s Farooq Abdullah,  ex-attorney general Soli Sorabjee, ‘Samajwadi’ Amar Singh,  leading members from the media and corporate India. 

The former Pakistan army general  said  he was here to talk peace. The burden of his piece was that India and Pakistan would do well to bury their past, stop the blame game; and move on with the confidence-building excercise to bring peace to the region. Citizen Musharraf  evidently had problem convincing a sceptical audience.  But then, he noted, anyone from India  facing a comparable audiance in Pakistan would face the same music. Would someone from India want to try ?  Anyway, the Musharraf Q & A, televised by Headlines Today, were moderated by Mr Aroon Purie of India Today. And , thank you, Mr Purie, for a  live telecast without commercial break.

Gen.Musharraf would like to see India stop the Pak army and ISI bashing. And in response to a query, he observed the RAW was doing the very thing India accused ISI of;  and until they both stopped working against each other, India-Pakistan relations wouldn’t improve.  Soli Sorabjee came up with suggestion : How about handing  over Dawood Ibrahim to India? When Gen. Musharraf  wouldn’t agree that such a hand-over would change  ground realities  Mr Purie cut in to quip, “why not try it (handing over), sir?”. To which Gen.Musharraf countered, “What, if it doesn’t work?  Would he (Dawood Ibrahim) be handed back to us?”.

 Gen Musharraf has a way with words. You may recall , during a US visit he was asked by TV guy Jon Stewart, “where is Osama bin Laden ?”

“I don’t know,” deadpanned  Gen.Musharraf, “Do you(know where to find him)?  You lead on,we’ll follow you” (laughter). This was the fist time a sitting head-of-state  appeared on Jon Stewart’s satirical show on Comedy Central. 

Next Q:  George W Bush and Osama bin Laden; who’d win a popular vote in Pakistan ?

Gen.Musharraf:  “I think they’ll both lose miserably”. 

I don’t suppose Bush would have taken it kindly. But then, as the general told a questioner at the India Today Conclave, “I don’t believe in hypocrisy”.   Now that he is no longer in power, Gen.Musharraf  is, presumably, in the process of finding a role for himself;   he would like to do whatever he can to further the peace agenda,  to promote wider people-to-people contact.

Why not make  the general a  ‘peace envoy’  for the Indian sub-continent? He might out-shine Tony Blair , Europe’s  peace envoy to the Middle-East.  Speaking of p2p contact, Gen.Musharraf  could use his  influence to mobilise young  bloggers  such as Mayank Austen Soofi to  network  informed youth in Pakistan and India.  They are the ones who would be more amenable to burying the murky past;  and moving on,  to focus  on the positives. New Delhi-based Mayank  runs, what the Pak media  termed,  ‘the website that teaches you neighbourly love’.

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2 Responses

  1. I watched the live telecast and couldn’t help LOL when he dealt on ISI Vs. RAW (For personal reasons). He certainly has guts to come to India and subject himself to the grilling even after he was forewarned. Except regarding the ‘D’ company boss he came out as non hypocrite.

  2. I think he is planning the next coup, all the makings of it…

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