Like Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, Gen. Pervez Musharraf's book of lies In the Line of Fire is significant and worrisome not for what it contains, but for what it indicates about the sick mind of a self-obsessed individual, living in a make-believe world of his own creation. Adolf Hitler convinced himself that he would be the saviour of the German people and of the world. Musharraf has convinced himself that he would be the saviour of the Pakistani people and of the world.
Critics of the book in Pakistan like Mr Amir Mir have pointed out that Musharraf has deliberately chosen the title of his book after a 1993 Hollywood movie by the same name, which was about a lone secret service agent, who stood between life and death for the US President. Through the book, Musharraf has sought to convey a message to the US and the Western world: Me or the jihadi deluge—you have no third option.
Mr Amir Mir wrote in the Frontier Post of September 22, 2006:
"His critics believe that by borrowing the film title, In the Line of Fire, Musharraf wants to give a symbolic message to the Bush Administration that he is still the only trusted leader in Pakistan who can save the US from the wrath of Al Qaeda and the Taliban by foiling their evil designs. At the same time, he would like the White House to back him for his re-election as the President of Pakistan for a second term and that too in uniform."
Mr Amir Mir says that the people of Pakistan perceive him as a "self-obsessed and power-hungry man, who would go to any extent to remain in power". He adds: "They say actions speak louder than words. In Musharraf's seven years of power, he has gone back on all the pledges he has ever made. The first thing he said after grabbing power was "I have no political ambition" and the last promise he made was "I will leave my uniform". He lived up to neither."
Hitler and Goebbels believed that you can fool all people for all time. According to them, what was important was not how credible your statement, but how credible your way of saying what you say. You could make the world accept even the most blatant falsehood if you knew how to utter it, and kept at it. Musharraf believes so too.
See the kind of falsehoods he has uttered in his book and during his promotional tour in West Europe and the US. I have already drawn attention to his falsehoods about the Kargil conflict in an earlier article on the book Let me mention some others:
It was not Omar Sheikh, who butchered Daniel Pearl, the US journalist in the beginning of 2002. This is what Musharraf says now:
"The man who may have actually killed Pearl or at least participated in his butchery, we eventually discovered, was none other than Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Al-Qaeda number three. Fazal Karim, a Pakistani activist from banned Sunni extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, who was arrested in May 2002 in another case, told police that he knew where Pearl was buried. Karim was asked how he knew. Chillingly he replied without remorse that he knew because he had actually participated in the slaughter by holding one of Pearl’s legs. But he did not know the person who actually slit Pearl’s throat. All he could say is that this person is Arab-looking."
If that was so, why was Karim not cited as an accused in the case relating to the kidnapping and slaughter of Pearl? Musharraf has remained silent on this. And nobody in the Western media has asked him this question. Mr Rai Bashir, the defence lawyer of Omar Sheikh, has already given notice of his intention to cite Musharraf as a defence witness to show that Omar had nothing do with Pearl's slaughter.
Even as Musharraf was promoting his latest version of the "truth" in the US, the London correspondent of the News, a well-known daily of Pakistan, quoted (September 22) a spokesman of the British Foreign Office as saying that the Pakistani authorities had not agreed to a request by the British High Commission in Islamabad for a meeting with Omar Sheikh in jail. They have told the British that only the court before which Omar Sheikh's appeal against the death sentence awarded to him is pending could permit such a meeting. The British reportedly want to question him regarding any knowledge he may have had about the London blasts of July, 2005, and the recently thwarted plot to blow up US-bound planes.
The Pakistani military units posted in the Kahuta uranium enrichment plant could not detect the removal of centrifuges from the plant by A.Q.Khan, the nuclear scientist, for being sent to Iran and North Korea because their job was to protect the plant from external attacks and not the prevention of internal thefts. A.Q.Khan just put the centrifuges in his car and took them away, without his car being checked.
The Daily Times of Lahore reported as follows on September 26,2006, on Musharraf's interview on the CBS the previous evening:
"Gen Musharraf was closely questioned as to how the centrifuges that Dr Khan is charged with having supplied to North Korea and Iran could have been taken out of Pakistan’s highly-secured and military-guarded nuclear facilities undetected by the government or the army. He replied that the military was there to safeguard the facilities from outside attack. When the interviewer suggested that in that case the internal controls were a "little weak," Gen Musharraf disagreed, asserting that they were not weak but "very strong". He said the centrifuges, whose designs, parts and they themselves had been sent out, could easily have been placed in a car and moved out. When the interviewer wondered if 18 tonnes of equipment could have been thus removed without anyone noticing, Gen Musharraf replied that it could not have been done at one time. "It must have been transported many times" and thereafter put on a C-130 and flown out.All the C-130s in the country are owned and flown by the Pakistan Air Force, but this question was not put to the President. Asked if the reason nobody from outside had been allowed to talk to Dr Khan was the fear that he might incriminate the army, the President replied, "That is absolutely not the case," adding that US President Bush and CIA’s George Tenet are "very satisfied and quite comfortable with whatever we have done".
Musharraf has insinuated that there were some Indians working in the Dubai network of A.Q.Khan, who "disappeared" after the network was detected by the US and speculated that Pakistan's enrichment technology must have leaked to India through them. He has not named these so-called Indians in A.Q.Khan's Dubai network. Nor has he indicated why the detailed investigations made by the intelligence agencies of the US and other countries and by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of Vienna have not brought out any "disappeared" Indians.
Buhary Seyed Abu Tahir, who headed A.Q.Kan's Dubai network and who set up a plant in Malaysia for the clandestine manufacture of new centrifuges at the instance of A.Q.Khan, was a Sri Lankan Muslim of Indian origin, who subsequently married a Malaysian and settled down in Malaysia. He has not disappeared. He was arrested and interrogated by the Malaysian Police. Why has he not said anything about the so-called "disappeared" Indians?
Ever since the Indo-US deal for civil nuclear co-operation was signed in July last year, Ms.Shireen Mazari, the Pakistani analyst, who wrote a book on the Kargil conflict at the instance of Musharraf, has been spreading canards about India allegedly supplying nuclear technology to Iran, Iraq and other countries. The story of the so-called "disappeared" Indians was also her canard, which Musharraf has borrowed.
Among other blatant falsehoods uttered by Musharraf, some are related to the sanctuaries of the Taliban in Pakistani territory and his recent peace agreement with the tribal chiefs of North Waziristan at the instance of Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Amir of the Taliban. After this agreement, the Pakistan Army has suspended all military operations against the remnants of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in that area. Musharraf tried to project this agreement as actually meant to help the NATO forces in countering the Taliban in Afghan territory. Nobody confronted him with an assessment reported to have been made by the US army units based in Southern and Eastern Afghanistan that since the conclusion of the cease-fire agreement in North Waziristan, the Taliban attacks on the NATO forces have increased three-fold.
The book is largely a figment of Musharraf's imagination and partly Ms.Mazari's pillow talk. But it is not without some truths. The most important truth is that the CIA paid the government of Pakistan for every terror suspect captured and handed over to the CIA. These amounts were paid to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which used the money for helping the Neo Taliban, the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and other jihadi terrorist organisations. Having realised the grave implications of his admitting this truth, Musharraf tried to wriggle out of this in an interview with the CNN. He is subsequently reported to have stated that these payments were made not to the government of Pakistan, but to an agency, which has been helping in the hunt for the terrorists. He has not explained which agency.
If this agency is the ISI, how can he say that making payments to it did not amount to making payments to the government of Pakistan? My police sources in Pakistan say that the CIA had been making payments to the ISI only and not to any other agency. Other sources in the tribal areas, however, say that with the CIA's encouragement a group of retired officers of the ISI and the CIA, who were involved in the operations against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s, have formed a private agency to help the CIA in its hunt for Osama bin Laden and his associates and some payments have also been going to this private agency.
These sources allege that the retired ISI officers in this private agency have been making money from the CIA as well as Al Qaeda—from the CIA for collecting intelligence about Al Qaeda and from Al Qaeda for intelligence about the CIA. The serving and retired officers in the ISI have never had it so good and it would, therefore, be not in their interest for the US war against terrorism to come to an early end. There is no business today in Pakistan like the Al Qaeda Hunt business.
The other truth that has come out of Musharraf is that his own colleagues and batch-mates never thought that he would rise above the rank of a Lt.Col. Musharraf writes:
"Having opted for the Army, while at the Pakistan Military Academy, I almost got thrown out for some disciplinary lapse. As a young Second Lieutenant, court-martial proceedings were initiated against me for yet another disciplinary violation. But war with India broke out just in time to block these proceedings. My subsequent war performance saved me from the court martial. As a young officer, my bluntness and indiscipline landed me in much serious trouble, with red ink entries piling up in my service record. In spite of my high professional performance on ground, my discipline record almost obstructed my promotion to the rank of Lt.Col. As a Brigadier on course at the Royal College of Defence Studies at London, my name was initially dropped from the list of recommended promotees to the rank of Maj.Gen. by the then Prime Minister (Mrs.Benazir Bhutto?) for some unknown reasons. My promotion as Army Chief is next only to a miracle, seen within all the seniority manipulations, negative propaganda against me and my character assassination."
Hitler was only a corporal in the German Army. The world saw what a damage even a corporal with a sick mind could cause to the world. Imagine what damage an ill-deserved General with an equally sick mind and with a propensity for compulsive lying like Hitler can cause.
There are two psychopaths on the loose today in Pakistan—Osama bin Laden and Musharraf. Both look upon themselves as the saviours of their people and the world. The war against terrorism has to be directed against both.
The world failed to take note of the sick mind behind Mein Kampf. Millions of people died as a result. A similar catastrophe awaits the world if it ignores the sick mind behind In the Line of Fire.
B. Raman is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai.
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