The books part one, In the Beginning, comprises chapters 1 to 5 and is devoted to Musharrafs early life and youthful years. a. The chapter 1. Entitled same as Khushwant Singhs famous novel, Train to Pakistan, opens with the words: These were troubled times. These were momentous times. There was the light of freedom; there was the darkness of genocide. It was the dawn of hope; it was the twilight of empire. (p. 11) Any student of English literature would immediately gather that the source of inspiration for this paragraph is Charles Dickens classic A Tale of Two Cities.
Set in the background of the French Revolution, A Tale of Two Cities begins thus: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair . . . . b. Chapter 2. The Chapter 2 Settling in Karachi, narrates the story of housing and other problems faced by Musharrafs family in their new homeland.
Representing the ordeal of nearly every Mohajir household, Musharraf states: Other uprooted members of our family assorted aunts and uncles and cousins came to live with us. At one time there were eighteen of us living in those two rooms. (p. 15) Ultimately, Musharrafs family settles down, and he as an uprooted little boy found earth that was natural to him. He took root in it forever. (p. 18) There is the commitment emanating from the innermost depth of his heart: I would protect that earth with my life. (p. 8) This represents the crisis of Mohajir identity: preoccupation with the search for roots after having been uprooted, and a desire to monopolize patriotism. c. Chapter 3. In chapter 3, Turkey: The Formative Years, Musharraf talks about his adolescent years in that country where his father was posted in Pakistans embassy. It was here that he developed admiration for the founder of modern Turkey: With the fall of the Ottoman caliphate, Mustafa Kemal had saved Turkey from balkanization and modernized it by dragging it out of dogma and obscurantism. (p. 9) Ataturk is the role model, Musharraf is in search of his footsteps but the terrain is entirely different. As if to prove that his family was not obscurantist, the author says, Both my parents loved music and dancing, especially ballroom dancing, (p. 20) He seems to be conscious of the controversy that was created by the photograph in which he was carrying two puppies, as he reminds, My love of dogs began in Turkey. (p. 24). d. Chapter4. The chapter 4. Home, describes his life back in Pakistan where first Musharrafs family took residence in Nazimabad Block 3.
Here a boy had to be street-smart to survive. There were the inevitable street gangs, and needless to say, I joined one. Needless to say, too, I was one of the tough boys. (p. 26). While living in this Mohajir neighbourhood, Musharraf relates with pride that he thrashed a bully and became known as a dada geer (p. 27). The discernable reader would not fail to observe the authors mental affinity to the stuff from which the MQM was to emerge. Perhaps Musharraf feels that without reference to some love affairs the story of his youthful years would remain incomplete and barren.
So one finds mention of a couple of superficial love affairs. e. Chapter5. The next chapter, Leaving the Nest, takes the reader to Musharrafs college years where he got his first experience in public speaking as a candidate in the election for class representative. (p. 32) Musharraf also got introduced to Tariq Aziz who was destined to become his principal secretary after he became president and was later to be appointed secretary to the National Security Council. It was also in the FC College that he learned how to make a time bomb, which I later used as a commando to good effect. (p. 33). f. Chapter 6. The part two, Life in the Army, chapter 6, The Potters Wheel, is devoted to the authors life in Pakistan Military Academy (PMA). Musharraf is all praise for the PMA, and describes it as the best in the world (p. 41). This is the beginning of his lifetime love with the institution of the armed forces. Here one incident took place that probably became significant in the future: I was one of four candidates short-listed to go to Sandhurst, England, to complete my training, but another cadet, Ali Kuli Khan Khattak, was selected.
He retired as a lieutenant general and chief of general staff when I became army chief, but I suspect that his retirement, which was optional, had more to do with disappointment at not becoming chief himself, which is perfectly understandable. (p. 41) . A little circumspection and Musharraf could have skipped the mention of above incident. g. Chapter 7. In chapter 7, Into the Fire, Musharraf gives account of his valiant contribution to the India-Pakistan War of 1965, which earned him an award for gallantry.
He could have earned two awards but due to certain act of indiscipline court-martial proceedings were to be taken against him, which were dropped as a reward for his performance in the war. The author is silent about the Operation Gibraltar and Operation Grand Slam that had provoked India to attack Pakistan in the early hours of September 6, 1965. His comments on the developments preceding the war would have enhanced the value of the book. h. Chapter 8. In chapter 8, Life in the Fire, Musharraf makes a lot of criticism of Z. A. Bhutto.
In his zeal for Bhutto-bashing, Musharraf makes an absurd point that instead of becoming chief martial law administrator Bhutto could have reverted to the Constitution of 1956 with amendments to the clauses that pertained to East Pakistan. (p. 57) He conveniently ignores that Yahya Khan had done away with One Unit with effect from July 1, 1970, and elections for four separate provincial assemblies had been held in December 1970. i. Chapter 9. The chapter 9, Living through the Dreadful Decade, is primarily an indictment of the civilian facade, 1988-1999: Never in the history of Pakistan had we seen such a combination of the worst kind of governance or rather, a nearly total lack of governance along with corruption and the plunder of national wealth. During these eleven years, every army chief there were four of them eventually clashed with the prime minister. The head of the government invariably got on the wrong side of the president and the army chief. Advice to Nawaz Sharif or Benazir Bhutto fell on deaf ears, leading every time to a confrontation. (p. 78). j. Chapter 10.
In chapter 10, From Chief to Chief executive, Musharraf relates the story of his becoming the army chief and not chief executive of the country as the title wrongly suggests. This glaring mistake cannot be condoned in a book meant for high caliber audience. Musharraf gives some detail of the conflict between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the one hand and President Farooq Leghari and Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah on the other. He accuses Nawaz Sharif of sending his party goons to storm the Supreme Court building while the court was in session. . Chapter 11. In chapter 11, The Kargil Conflict, Musharraf gives his side of the Kargil story. He stresses that the Kargil operartion was just one in a series of moves and counter-moves at tactical level by India and Pakistan along the Line of Control in Northern Areas. (p. 87). According to him the Indians could have possibly used the reportedly increasing activities of the mujahideen as a casus belli to launch operation against the positions of Pakistan armed forces.
He states, We knew that thousands of mujahideen, mostly indigenous to Indian-held Kashmir but also supported by freelance sympathizers from Pakistan, did operate against the Indian forces. (p. 88) l. Chapter 12. The part three, The Hijacking Drama, chapter 12, Plane to Pakistan, contains detail of what happened on board flight PK 805, which was bringing Musharraf back to Karachi from Colombo. Musharraf accuses Nawaz Sharif of not allowing his flight to land in Karachi even if it had to be diverted to Bombay, Oman, Abu Dhabi or Bandar Abbas. The reason: I had been dismissed and Ziauddin had been made the chief.
Obviously, Nawaz Sharif did not want me around to counter his illegal action. (p. 107) m. Chapter 13. In chapter 13, The Conspiracy, Musharraf charges Nawaz Sharif of staging a coup against him. According to Musharraf, It was a gross misuse and misapplication of the law: you cannot summarily dismiss the army chief, a constitutional appointee, without giving him just cause and affording him due process. (p. 109) n. Chapter 14 The chapter 14, The Countercoup, describes how the loyalists of Musharraf managed to thwart the alleged plan of Nawaz Sharif and removed him from power. . Chapter 15. In chapter 15, Anatomy of Suicide, Musharraf tries to explain why Nawaz Sharif took the decision to remove him. He refers to various irritants that had developed between him and the prime minister. He conjectures, It could be that such affronts on my part made the prime minister realize his folly in selecting me for my position. He had probably thought that being the son of immigrant parents, I would acquiesce in his demands ___ that I would feel insecure and vulnerable and do his bidding. He couldnt have been more wrong. . Chapter 16. In chapter 16, Pakistan First, Musharraf explains the reasons why he did not impose martial law repeating the earlier argument: Our past experience had amply demonstrated that martial law damages not only military but also civilian institutions, because as the army gets superimposed on civil institutions the bureaucracy becomes dependent on army officers to make the crucial decisions that they themselves should be making. I therefore decided that there would be no martial law. (p. 143). q. Chapter 17.
The chapter 17, The Quest for Democracy makes a brief and superficial survey of constitutional developments, and government and politics in Pakistan. Here too Musharraf does not spare Bhutto: Zulfikar Ali Bhutto masqueraded as a democrat but ruled like an autocrat. (p. 159) Nawaz also becomes Musharrafs target: This time he had a brute two-third majority in the National Assembly and could bludgeon through any amendment to the constitution he wanted. He used his majority to silence dissent. He forced the army chief out of office.
He attacked the press and arrested many journalists. And he had his partys goons physically attack the Supreme Court. (p. 162) r. Chapter 18. In chapter 18, Putting the System Right, Musharraf points out the flaws in Pakistans politico-constitutional setup, and discusses the measures that he has adopted to remove them. He primarily identifies two problems: the absence of democracy at the grassroots level and the absence of effective checks and balances over the three power brokers of Pakistan: the president, the prime minister and the army chief. (p. 164) s. Chapter 19. In chapter 19, Kick-Starting the Economy, Musharraf presents a lot of figures to make the point that under his government there has been a revival of economy. What he conveniently ignores is the fact that since early 1990s Pakistan was facing sanctions whereas the actual starting point of revival was 9/11 when Pakistan became a US ally in its war on terror. And sanctions were lifted. It is yet to be seen if there has been any structural change in the economy or the present kick off is short-lived.
The recent scandal concerning the sale of Pakistan Still Mills, the sugar crisis and uncontrollable inflationary trends are black spots on the management of Pakistans economy. The part five of the book deals with The War on Terror. t. Chapter 20. This part begins with chapter 20, One Day that Changed the World, an obvious reference to 9/11. During an important meeting at the Governors House, Musharraf received the famous phone call of the US secretary of state. He recalls, Powell was quite candid: You are either with us or against us. I took this as a blatant ultimatum. (p. 201). u. Chapter 21. The chapter 21, Omar and Osama, contains details about Mulla Omars and bin Ladens background and their worldview, and discusses the origin of the Taliban. Musharraf suspects that the United States did not disapprove of the Taliban phenomenon in the hope that they could bring peace to Afghanistan. (p. 211). v. Chapter 22. The chapters 22, The War Comes to Pakistan, 23, Manhunt and 24, Tightening the Noose are about the network and activities of Al-Qaeda and its allies in Pakistan.
These chapters also contain the details of Pakistani agencies operations to break terrorist network in the country. Referring to Al-Qaeda members, Musharraf boasts: We have captured 689 and handed 369 to the United States. We have earned bounties totaling millions of dollars. Those who habitually accuse us of not doing enough in the war on terror should simply ask the CIA how much prize money it has paid to the government of Pakistan. (p. 237).