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Thursday, October 19, 2006

In the Line of Ire

Much criticism has been levelled at President Musharraf's memoirs - In the Line of Fire - from specifics, like Retired General Ali Kuli cclaiming passages of the book to be total fabrications, to generalizations, such as questions being raised everywhere on whether a sitting president should have the right to write about things that are - in the view of some - State Secrets or the public washing of our dirty linen. Others are annoyed at his using state money to travel, with a large entourage, to promote his book at state expense, a point countered by his supporters saying that the book has caused tremendous excitement internationally, in political and book reading circles, and has managed to have the Pakistani view on matters such as Kargil, Kashmir and other issues, read for the first time by millions of people. One writer in the Urdu press - always off at the most delightful of tangents - has asked that if the book were to win The Best Fiction Award would the money go to the President or the ghostwriter. My feelings are that much of the hoohah in Pakistan can be settled through a simple process. Following the line of reasoning the the President is paid (for all the positions he holds) by the national exchequer from monies that belong to the people of Pakistan, and that the nature of his employment demands that he is on the job 24/7, I think he really can't really be writing books, parrying with Jon Stewart, staying away from his desk on promotion tours, and making additional money on our time. On the other hand, I also understand that Pakistan has, arguably, benefitted from this exposure and, in any case, folowing a tradition religiously, the writing was done by someone else. So here's a suggested compromise: Maybe the President should share some of the benefits with us. I don't expect him to give us all a part of the earnings, but one thing he can do is make the book free for Pakistanis. Since that cannot be a practical solution in terms of the costs of publishing and distribution involved, the very least would be a token bow to the concept via a free download of a pdf version, don't you think?

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Anonymous Jehan said...

Zak, hasn't he said that the proceeds from the book will go to a charity - i don't know if a particular charity has been identified though. Nonetheless, although I haven't read the book and so cannot comment on the quality of writing, or even whether it is a work of art or of fiction. I have recently been travelling in the US and UK and if money has been spent by the President on launching this book, I must say that Pakistan has certainly got a lot of free publicity in the international media because of this book - do you think this is part of the Master Plan that Mehreen Khan has been working on to build the image of Pakistan? ;-)

19 October, 2006 11:58

Blogger Teeth Maestro said...

Zack - Thank you for providing the link to the free version of the book.

Jehan, the book proceeds going to charity was an after thought, and I simply can't trust Musharraf when it comes to handling money, they are all greedy bureaucrats simply enjoying the best time of their life. To make enought money to last them generations if not more.

Its been claimed that off the $250,000 promised by Simon and Schuster $90,000 has been forwarded to an undisclosed fund and the rest $160,000 will be deposited into the Musharraf Foundation (which has yet to come into existence). The description is too vague for anyone to believe, I just feel his statment was carefully worded to ensure the sales continue climbing with little impact on the bottom line. More like damage control

After all celebrities don't tell a lie, they just alter the truth

19 October, 2006 12:43

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@jehan - Yes Pakistan has certainly got a lot of publicity in the international media but I am afraid it hasn't been FREE (though the final cost is intangible and difficult to quantify).

@teeth maestro - I think it's unfair to brand him guilty before a crime has been committed. The $90k may have gone to the ghost-writer. After all, there's been a lot of inflation since Ayub's days and the son cannot charge what the father did.

(Thank you for the book, sir.)

19 October, 2006 13:05

Blogger Zakintosh said...

@teeth maestro & jehan: here's an afterthought. download and read it for free. and if the noble foundation does become a reality, pay money into it in proportion to how you feel. how's that for a deal?

19 October, 2006 13:14

Blogger the olive ream said...

ZAK, great post and obviously highlighting the link to the pdf version is the best critique I can think of right now. Sharing the book free with others might chap the publisher's and presidential the arse as the worst form of criticism.

19 October, 2006 14:02

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You sure you want the Pk bandwidth clogged with .....

19 October, 2006 18:18

Anonymous Amean J. said...

i only read bits and pieces of the book with its reviews, and if you've heard Musharaf enough it surely sounds like him, but i wouldn't be shocked to know about a ghost writer.
i disagree with the fact that he did it for financial gains, as we all know the kind of money that is involved in transactions related to army and in the name of defence. any general in any army [and more so in our country] could make much more money if he hasn't already through either kickbacks or even selling country secrets, we still don't know how much money actually was involoved with our deals with n. korea and iran, i'm quite sure it was much more than any book sales [interesting facts about the vietnam war in the movie, 'JFK'].
personal gains i agree, the book is surely making him popular across the globe, and sometimes a stunt like this also diverts the attention of the media and the masses [interesting movie about how govts divert attention of the masses, 'Wag the Dog'].
will surely read the book now, would love to give more feedback later.

19 October, 2006 20:42

Blogger sam said...

Z, Haven't bothered to read the book yet ... it was too much fun watching people with opposing view points literally scuffle over what was true and what was not. The ghost writer idea is certainly interesting. Will read the book and get back to you on my take on this.
Doesn't he write his own speeches though???

20 October, 2006 10:06

Anonymous Jehan said...

Guys and gals - I have a confession to make. I plead guilty of buying a copy for my father who wanted it as soon as it came out but complained that it was too expensive. So I bought it for him before i whizzed off for a week. Thought it would keep him occupied.

Yeah the "charity" idea was certainly an afterthought and I for one would prefer to pick my own charities anyway. I used to be a very trusting person but most of these bureaucrats and their charities are highly suspect in my eyes.

Amean J - I agree the money is probably peanuts - the idea was probably to get maximum publicity and feed his ego - in that one must admit he has been successful!

20 October, 2006 10:13

Blogger Zakintosh said...

Folks, I am stumped about some of you being surprised at the President having ghostwriters when many people even know the name of one of them (who did the first few parts) and a general idea of where the second one[s] came from.

Yes. The Prez does, I'm sure, write his own speeches - or parts thereof - and, possibly, more often than many of our other leaders, other than ZAB. And, in any case, he does like talking straight-from-the-heart frequently. However, and this is no reflection a man, who has a lot more to do than write speeches, the bulk of them are put together by people within his team of assistants and, often, outside - depending upon the subject or theme. And I say this from direct knowledge of this and two other Heads of State.

20 October, 2006 11:15

Anonymous jma said...

will the president pay income tax on the earnings from the book

20 October, 2006 21:01

Anonymous Anonymous said...

haven't read it yet, but its an intriguing idea.. if lots of people in office start writing it will be great for all of us...this myth of taking secrets to their graves really bugs me ..also it occupies a kind of objective space better than press conferences that are so transitory.

23 October, 2006 01:08

Anonymous rayhan said...

The debate in the USA is whether The Book has damaged Pakistan's reputation and shown the President to be unreliable (since many of his statements are being shown to be false or, at least, challenge-able) OR it has created greater awareness about Pakistan in a positive away.

Given that all of you have by now read the book, courtesy Zakintosh's hippie philosophy, I'd love to hear what the opinion is, back home.

24 October, 2006 00:22

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I rather pay for the book, which I already have. Also I feel that Pakistanis generally have an attitude of entitlement, as if they are owed something. Unless and until we give-up on this idea, we will never be able to claim the future... With a few exceptions, majority of the Pakistani bloggers unconciously reveal this attitude... for the record, in case you didn't get it, I am a Pakistani myself.

24 October, 2006 23:31

Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing... why is everyone worried about his book and its profits. Its his thing, let him have it. His book his money - whoever wrote it for him or not is not the issue. Its out there and its selling like hot cakes. If you are so concerned, go write one yourself and make it a big hit - and then share its money with us! How about that?

24 October, 2006 23:35

Blogger TURAB said...


he might not be perfect but he is the bestest thing to happen to Pakistan in a long long time and I say its about time we created some lobbies in West, be it through books!

24 October, 2006 23:45

Anonymous anand sharma said...

@anonymous: Many Indians would feel that with such a stupid comment you did not have to tell us you are a Pakistani. On the other hand, my experience of Pakistanis has always been positive. They are self-critical more than we Indians are and less rigid, although the stereotype that theworld has chosen to caricature them by is a small minority. Sadly it is generalizations like yours that provide ammunition to the bigots among us. Given the sheer volume of blogs from India and the much smaller numbers from Pakistan, the number of high quality blogs from Pakistan is totally disproportional. This is one of them that would find few equals in India.

24 October, 2006 23:52

Blogger mAn[S]o0r said...


can you please re upload the book, i missed out and now the file is not found on 4shared.

thanks in advance.

im an ardent supporter of the president, just not too heavy on the pocket to buy the book :$

26 October, 2006 23:03

Anonymous rayhan said...

@man[s]o0r: Must have been some error at your end (don't know which one, though, since you support PM). I just downloaded it. BTW, 'zakintosh' may not have uploaded it but just pointed to the links where it is available. It is also on several other sites. Do a search among the usual suspects (Kazaa,, Limewire etcetera)

26 October, 2006 23:56


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