Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Songs, Blood and Sword... Untruths, Half-truths and Fiction (Part-II)

Author's Note: The 1st part of this series can be read: HERE.

Fatima, who detests Facebook (she would rather have "lunch with David Miliband every day of the week than be on FB"), surprised everyone by showing up on Twitter October last. "Songs of Blood and Sword" isn't Fatima's first book (she has written two before) but with this one she has certainly been getting plenty of attention. If her magic surname, which she has never ever 'misused', was at work when she was sealing the book deal (for a substantial sum of course) or when she was giving interviews to A-list interviewers or when she was chalking out plans for embarking on global book tours - it was obviously absolutely unintentional and totally coincidental! Period.

The sailing has been smooth for Fatima all along, yet she has showed little grace when faced by critics, including an uncle, who claim that the book is full of glaring half-truths or that she has needlessly demonized her late aunt to make a hero out of her dead father. "Pakistani media is spitting blood over it - which is to be expected..." she says and wonders what people who "hate" her have in common! She even got petty with her followers on Twitter wondering how they had access to her account when she had blocked out "undesirables". The real shocker, however, was when she ticked off an Indian follower in Mumbai who said he didn't like her book with: "It seems you care. Why don't you get off my page?" Wonder what is eating Fatima and why. Any thoughts?

During the 2002 elections in the 'land of the pure'... held under Musharraf's watch... Benazir's party was 'disqualified'. 'Coz the leader/chairperson of this party (PPP) was a 'non-graduate' (read the 1st part to get the drift). She being an adept player of the game of chess on the political chess board... responded a day before the disqualification... with a subsidiary party christened as the PPP(P) - Pakistan Peoples Party (Parliamentarians), headed by Makhdoom Amin Fahim (the Pir/Makhdoom of Hala) and registering it. The PPP(P) went on to win the largest number of seats... inspite of the elections being heavily rigged. Musharraf and his cronies with the help of their omnipotent intelligence agencies aka 'angels'... managed to lure away (via liberal doses of threats, unlimited vitamin M and the carrot of ministerships) some members of the PPP(P) into their fold. This bunch was called the PPP (Patriots).

Musharraf the 'surgeon' also assisted in the birth of a new party - the 'Pakistan Muslim League - Quaid' aka 'PML - Q' aka 'Q League' - via a complicated C-section performed on the Pakistan Muslim League (then headed by Mian Nawaz Sharif - the PM he had deposed in a coup d'état in 1999). Nawaz's flock jumped ship almost en masse... those who remained became part of the PML (Nawaz) or the N/Nawaz League. Incidentally the Q in the Q League stood for 'Quaid'... which refers to their Quaid-e-Azam/Father of the nation - Mohammed Ali Jinnah. Some wags said that there were rumbling noises from Mr Jinnah's last resting place, but when examined, the grave was still intact.

Thereafter, Musharraf proceeded to coronate himself as the Generalissimo+Commando+Chief of Army Staff+CEO... and declared his admiration for the Turkish army officer, revolutionary statesman, writer, and founder of the Republic of Turkey as well as its first President - Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. What had the great Atatürk done to deserve this... I don't have a clue. He also went on to pledge "good governance" and "enlightened moderation", though subsequently this proved to be a deadly cocktail... sorry, traditional sherbet/Rooh Afza. He also declared (by waving his closed fist - his trademark punch) that he would "kick out" Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif (both two-time former PMs)... if they were ever to make the "mistake" of returning to Pakistan. As a 'double insurance' he incorporated the infamous 17th amendment in their Constitution (?) which barred any individual from becoming PM for the 3rd time. No word was spoken regarding the tenure duration of an army chief who also wore 'several hats'... maybe it is implied that the latter species could keep 'heating' the chair for donkey's years. Musharraf conceded that the amendment was "Benazir specific"... even though Nawaz too got affected. He proclaimed that the 'uniform' was his "second skin"... although he was also found to be wearing a 'Bush shirt' underneath. No wonder the Lahoris christened him "Busharraf"... once the exotic flora residing in the most expensive piece of real estate in the US of A at that time... called him his "tight buddy".

Now, the former great leader and visionary, ex-president General Pervez Musharraf spends his 'valuable' time delivering lectures in the land of the 'cow-boys' plus the land of their second cousin - Europe... for which he is paid a considerable fee. Why think tanks, universities, etc., would shell out top dollar to listen to the lectures delivered by a man whose own education stopped at the age of 15, who was no great shakes as a student... my guess is as good as yours. Musharraf is someone who claims to be a Commando, yet has never seen/fought a war. Never even seen the back of the head or even the hair on the back of the head of an enemy soldier... having been an arm-chair soldier all his life. He praises his own muscles and gloats over how women look at him. He does not even have a sense of history... and claims his biggest misadventure to be his 'victory'. I ask you! btw... he even promoted his memoirs on foreign shores, spending hundreds of millions of dollars of tax payers money.

Wait a minute! A 'superpower' claims to have over a 100 banks declaring bankruptcy. Several insurance companies going under. Maybe HE is one of the reason or more precisely his golden voicebox is one of the reasons contributing towards this 'meltdown'. And to think that several people were/are looking for a certain 'Lehmann Brothers'... ??

Musharraf loves to hear the sound of his own voice. Sample this (his comments on rape in Pakistan): ''You must understand the environment in Pakistan. This has become a money-making concern. A lot of people say if you want to go abroad and get a visa for Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped."

Did I say he is loitering all over the world delivering lectures?? Well not quite. He has never set foot on Antarctica. Maybe the flora and fauna there... especially the polar bears, penguins, seals, etc are not interested in hearing such 'pearls of wisdom'.

Off late Kim Kardashian has more hits on her website than the former dictator - sorry democrat. In other words, the world has still not recognised this wonderful man who triumphantly led a certain hotchpotch country through a golden era of reforms, visionary policies and enormous prosperity. It was during his time that his butter-wouldn't-melt-in-my-mouth prime minister, Mr Shaukat Aziz claimed that Pakistan's march to the glorious future ordained for it, was seen in the proliferation of cell phones. Wiser words have not been spoken before or since! He even declared mobile phone imports an industry. During his time, Mr. Bush Shirt aka the so-called closest ally of the exotic flora, General Pervez Musharraf (along with Shaukat 'Shortcut' Aziz of course), continued doing what he thought was in his best interest. Despite significant economic assistance from the international community in the form of aid and the rescheduling of mammoth debts, the economy of the 'land of the pure' did not get any firm traction. The proliferation of consumer goods through printing money brought more misery and inflation to the country. Furthermore, the state of governance got worse during the 'wise and visionary' Musharraf era... as only jihadis and the rich classes (tied to Musharraf and his cronies) prospered.

Here is an interesting anecdote regarding Shaukat Aziz's 'selection' as the prime minister (in 2004). Musharraf and his cronies were convinced that Benazir's popularity in the West were due to two factors: 1. Her excellent communication skills in the English language and 2. She was very good looking. Hence they went looking for someone who had similar 'credentials'. After interviewing some potential candidates... they decided to freeze on shining Shaukat. He also brought along other handy additional 'qualifications'... his skills at fudging figures were/are legendary. Plus his ability to make their wretched Toshakhana in Islamabad pay for everything... even his (and his boss and their cronies') toilet papers. This also earned him the sobriquet... 'shortcut' Aziz.

He also fancied himself as a ladies' man... and bragged - to Western diplomats, no less - that he could conquer any woman in two minutes. Mr. Aziz adopted an overtly romantic demeanor during his interaction with US Secretary of State Dr. Condy Rice (when she visited South Asia in March 2005). And Ms. Rice, instead of being duly enamored by the Prime Minister's suavity, announced later on that Mr. Aziz had indulged her in unnecessary talk. Marcus Mabry's biography of Dr Rice, "Twice as Good: Condoleezza Rice and Her Path to Power" describes in excruciating detail how the Pakistani Prime Minister's charm failed to work its magic on the steely US Secretary of State.

Mr Aziz "tried this Savile Row-suited gigolo kind of charm: 'Pakistan is a country of rich traditions,' staring in [Dr Rice's] eyes," biographer Marcus Mabry writes. "When Rice sat down with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, who fancied himself as a ladies' man, Aziz puffed himself up and held forth in what he obviously thought was his seductive baritone." Mr Aziz, who is married with three children, was out of luck. "There was this test of wills where he was trying to use all his charms on her as a woman, and she just basically stared him down," the Dawn newspaper quotes Mabry, a senior correspondent with Newsweek, as writing. "By the end of the meeting he was babbling. The Pakistanis were shifting uncomfortably. And his voice visibly changed."

He is currently enjoying his well-earned break at his 18-bedroom luxury villa in London... after having grabbed almost all official gifts and artifacts on his way out. The gifts and artifacts (including diamond necklaces, gold ornaments, pearls, Persian carpets and jewelled wrist watches) should have been deposited with the Toshakhana as required by rules... but then he is not called 'shortcut' for nothing! On second thoughts... he was merely following his boss. Latest reports suggest... he has been appointed as financial advisor to a certain Indian-born steel magnate... to whom the former PM had sold Pakistan Steel Mills, which was later stopped by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Mr. Aziz has denied the news of course.

Coming to the "mother of all elections" - 2008. Despite irrefutable evidence of the heavy and thorough rigging committed in the 2002 elections (held under Musharraf's watch)... the Americans certified them to be reasonably free and fair. Infact, results were blatantly changed even after the candidates themselves had conceded defeat. A particularly egregious example of this was in Lahore, where the 'winner' went on to become a pillar of the Musharraf regime. Benazir was out of the country... but had indicated that she'll return before the elections. The 'establishment forces' asked the senior and influential leaders and stalwarts of the PPP to operate... minus her (as their advise to the PPP has always been). Wonder why was that... ?? She was finally not allowed to contest in 2002... the reason given out: she was not a 'graduate'. The General and the 'establishment forces' did not succeed in their plans then. The PPP(P) has received pretty much the same number of seats in the 2008 elections... as they did in 2002. This time too... the Americans (along with the British) were extremely prompt in certifying them as the "most free and fair elections" in Pakistan and suitably feting Musharraf. They were the ones to credit the PPP(P)'s win onto the "sympathy wave"... supposedly generated due to Benazir's brutal assassination. The PPP leadership under Zardari (Benazir's widower) alleged that the Musharraf administration along with their 'angels' (in connivance with their powerful backers) had indulged in "intelligent rigging". Note: The non-elected forces that have exercised power over Pakistan's destiny are today known as the 'establishment' in their political parlance.

About this "sympathy wave"... let me narrate a Nasreddin Hodja story. One day, Nasreddin brought home one kilo of lamb meat. He asked his wife to prepare it for the evening and set off to the teahouse to spend the rest of the day. Unable to wait... his wife cooked the meat and shared it with her friends. Returning home, Nasreddin was told that the cat had eaten the meat. Puzzled, Nasreddin grabbed the family's mangy cat and put it on the weighing scales. To his surprise, it weighed exactly one kilo. He barked at his wife, "If this is the meat, then where is the cat?"

Now, the question is... if this is the "sympathy wave", where are the votes. And if these are the "votes", then where is the "sympathy wave"... ???

The despotic Zia-ul-Haq's greatest collaborators were superior judges, as were Pervez Musharraf's when he seized power many years later. It is a sobering thought that all the 17 'pillars of wisdom' now gracing the Supreme Court of Pakistan took oath under Musharraf's Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) in 2000. The Constitution may have had a conscience even then but it wasn't strong enough to deter baptism in the waters of the PCO. Nor was this all. Just as earlier coups had been validated by the superior judiciary, Musharraf's coup was validated too in 2000 in the famous Zafar Ali Shah case. Among the luminaries on that bench headed by Chief Justice Irshad Hasan Khan was an up and coming judge by the name of Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry. (Refer to the pic above).

The year was 2000 and the self-employed Chief Executive of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf was basking in the 'unabashed constitutional legitimacy' of his rule since the 12 member Supreme Court bench had validated his October 12, 1999 coup d'état. Few months following the 'coup d'état' Musharraf introduced a Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) and appointed his new Chief Justice, Irshad Hasan Khan who took oath under this PCO... along with six other judges.

Forty-One out of 43 judges of Lahore High Court, 5 judges of LHC Rawalpindi bench, 8 of Multan bench, Chief Justice of Sindh High Court along with 18 other judges, 11 judges of Peshawar High Court and the then Chief Justice of Baluchistan High Court, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry with his 5 judges were administered oath. However, six judges including former CJ Saeeduzaman Siddique (who contested the Presidential elections '08 from the PML - N platform) refused to take oath under the PCO and nobody named Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry toed the line of these senior judges sticking to their principles.

Beside taking oath under the PCO of General Musharraf, Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was included in the five-member judges bench which dismissed the petition against General Musharraf's dual role of Army Chief and the President of Pakistan. Ironically, Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar (whose tenure is now derided as the "Dogar Court" by the legal acolytes and supporters of the "hero" of the "lawyers movement" - Iftikhar Chaudhry) was seated along with Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in this bench and both validated the 17th Constitutional Amendment. Thus... considering his valuable commitment and 'services' Gen. Musharraf appointed Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry as the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan on 7th May 2005.

The rest is history mingled into the hoopla. So much for 'conscience' and 'conscience-keepers'.

(More later...)


1. Fatima Bhutto at the launch of her book 'Songs of Blood and Sword' in 2010.

2. Self explanatory.


  1. hopefully i thought this frog of fathima hops to the other side of the realistic world...
    Seems her genetical code is still in execution and hence she successfully bears and carries the stamp of proverbial frogs through manioulated ways very well....

  2. 'conscience' and 'conscience-keepers'

    Read an article in the tabloids yesterday about how certain economists when in a spot have had to choose the proper thing to do over their conscience...How many regret doing that?

    Interesting read this was.

  3. I am not a fan of politics and that too Pakistani politics,our Indian politics is disgusting enough..so spending money and then reading about it..is really a tall ask.

    The fact is - we will never know what the fact is.It 's just one persons interpretation,truthfully, so because that is their version of ultimate truth,till someone comes up with another version of their ultimate truth,and then we have a ping pong of truths making a farce of the situation.

  4. Oh My God! Shaukat Aziz hit on Rice! That was just hilarious! Where do you get all this information from? I thought I was well read, you seem to be a walking encyclopedia! :)
    That was one heck of an article! Fathima Bhutto's hypocritical behavior on Social Networking sites, stems from the bitterness she savours in her heart, which is also the reason why her book, is nothing but, a bunch of concocted stories. She has the magic surname, but couldn't use it to gain power. May be that's why?

  5. wow..Such an informative post..
    These days iam hooked to speeches made by political readers.

    This kinda addds on to that information.
    Thanks for the nice read!

  6. hey,

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    Also look at our Facebook page too. Thanks and happy book reviews


  7. such an informative post on Pak politics...u r so well read!

  8. hey politics is a dirty game and unfortunately she has landed in the wrong sand in paki politics...:D

  9. @ Choco: Thanks! Glad to know you found it to be an interesting read...

  10. @ Gyanban: I agree.

    I too am not a fan of politics... just someone with an interest in history/current affairs/books/political science :)

    I intend to bring forth a lot of anecdotes through this series...

    P.S. This is not a post on Pak politics only... there are several undercurrents...

  11. @ Preeti: Thanks a bunch for the compliment. I'm flattered :)

    Glad to know that you found this to be an interesting read.

    I intend to bring out new perspectives and anecdotes through this series. Would be keen to know your views and take on them...

  12. @ Sorcerer: Thanks for stopping by my blog and glad you liked the post :)

  13. @ Booklover: Thanks and welcome to my blog. Will take a look at the new book review blog as well...

  14. @ Reema: Thanks for the compliment... am flattered :D

    P.S. This post is not restricted to Pak politics only... there are several undercurrents. I intend to bring forth new perspectives and anecdotes through this series.

  15. @ Sid 'Ravan' Kabe: This is much bigger than mere politics... Stay tuned!

  16. Truly you gather and present some deep information.... I think this is not the end yet .....

  17. any take on why jemima khan is no 1 fan of fatima bhutto?

  18. @ Dhiman: Thanks for the pat! Yes... there is more to come... so stay tuned!

  19. @ Surabhi: Hi! Welcome to my blog :)

    I have written about it in Part I and Part IV of this series. Some reading between the lines may be necessary. There is more to come... so stay tuned!