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Anatomy of Ideologies

K.S. Dhillon

By Pervez Musharaff
Simon & Schuster, London, 2006, pp. 352, Rs. 950.00


A book by the president of a country, while still in office, is bound to attract attention for several reasons, especially when that country happens to be Pakistan, embroiled as it is in many kinds of controversies, particularly after 9/11. That catastrophic event in distant New York played a most important role in triggering an across-the-board restructuring of Pakistani policy imperatives and retuning the strategic goals of its polity. From a polity, often accused, rightly or wrongly, of promoting Islamic extremism and terrorism, it was co-opted by the US and its allies almost overnight as a frontline state in the fight against international Islamist terrorism. General Musharaff, who had overthrown a rather wobbly democratic regime of Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless coup only a year ago, happened to be just the right man for the turnaround, reared as he was in an environment vastly different from that which produced the earlier army rulers in Pakistan, like Ayub Khan and Zia-ul-Haq, not to speak of the luckless Yahya Khan. It is necessary to take note of this difference between Musharaff and his predecessors, if only to savour the full flavour of the book under review.   Many Indian readers must have picked up the book with considerable skepticism and uncertainty as the general does not enjoy high levels of credibility in the country, mainly because the Indian media has by and large been rather critical of him for various reasons but especially after Kargil. Except sections of the mainstream media, most Indian newspapers and TV channels indulge in doling out uninformed and coloured fare when in comes to Pakistan. Most middle class Indians also have a ready propensity to believe the worst where Pakistan and its rulers are concerned. That explains why the general’s book was viewed variously as propaganda, defensive and self-justificatory, even in the nature of a manifesto in preparation for the elections slated for next year. A more unkind view was that the key intent of the writer was just to make money by using the trappings of his office to achieve record sales. As it happens the book has sold like hot cakes all over the English speaking world but more so in South Asia, the scene of most of his activities and exploits. Be that as it may, the real core and merit of the book lies elsewhere.   But first the flaws. The general comes across in ...

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