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Priyanka Singh


By Fakir Syed Aijazuddin
Three Rivers Publishers, New Delhi, 2013, pp. 130, Rs. 395.00

VOLUME XXXVIII NUMBER 4 April 2014

F rom a Minister’s Journal by Fakir Syed Aizajuddin narrates his impressions gathered over time, primarily spanning former President Pervez Musharraf’s term in Pakistan (1999-2008). Aizajuddin is a writer with wide ranging experience—first as a chartered accountant with considerable corporate experience, a keen student of politics and arts and later as a minister and administrator serving in the Punjab government. He has a pedigree—Fakir Azizuddin served Maharaja Ranjit Singh as his spokesman and chief negotiator for external relations about 170 years ago (p. 23).   Set in the backdrop of the 1999 coup that upstaged the elected government under Nawaz Sharif, the book traverses a crucial phase in Pakistan’s polity. After a prolonged phase of military rule, democracy was finally ushered in with elections in February 2008. Prior to this, the United States applied considerable pressure for restoring democracy in the country. At that point, Musharraf, whose dependence on the US was more than before, had to acquiesce. Broadly, this was the tumultuous period during which the country aligned with the US in the war against terror and simultaneously slipped fast into the abyss of fundamentalism and militancy. During this crucial phase, ministerial offers were made to Aijazuddin on two occasions. Way back in 1999, given his expertise in investment banking, he was offered chairmanship of the Board of Investment. Later, in view of his bipartisan credentials, he was offered and later inducted in the interim neutral set up installed before the 2008 elections.   Some interesting insights come out of Aijazuddin’s meeting with General Aziz, Musharraf’s right-hand man in the army and who according to the author, had a key role in conceiving the Kargil intrusion. The author draws upon this particular meeting to subtly convey the salient features of the Pakistani system. Since Pakistan’s creation, the army has wielded much power and authority. Today, it considers itself more righteous, ‘efficient’ and ‘disciplined’ (p. 15) than the popularly elected representatives. To add to this, there is the continuing and growing influence of the elite in Pakistan politics. Aijazuddin posits that Musharraf’s penchant for the elite academics, eco-nomists, and diplomats for the higher echelons in government was in sync with the usual preference of the military rulers. In Pakistan, this military-elite nexus has hindered the growth of democracy. Aijazuddin shares his experiences (rather short stint) as Minister of Environment, Culture and Tourism. The initial reluctance to take on power and ...


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