General Pervez Musharraf, the President-Pretender of Pakistan, and one of the most popular and media-friendly world leaders, has finally finished his ghost-written memoirs, its title ripped off from the 1993 Clint Eastwood film In The Line of Fire.
A Task Accomplished
Overseeing the writing of In The Line of Fire had to be an exhaustive exercise considering that Mr Musharraf has been occupied in numerous urgent tasks, such as trying to catch Osama bin Laden, helping to bring stability to Afghanistan, controlling the Taliban, banning India-targeting terrorist organizations, and most importantly – trying to build a genuine, corruption-free democracy in Pakistan.
At least, these are the responsibilities that the world hopes Mr Musharraf is sincere about.
However, the least urgent task of Pakistan's Delhi-born ruler has been accomplished and he now has his 368-page autobiography, promoted by none else than his closest ally, US President George Bush, who advised the journalists present in a White House press conference to just 'buy the book'!
Should You Really Buy the Book?
That is up to you. But President Bush's recommendation must not be a discouraging factor. Do not decide against it because you suspect Mr Musharraf might be faking his war on Islamic terrorism; because his government might be discreetly backing Taliban incursions in southern Afghanistan; or because his army might be looking the other way as Mullah Omar continue to hide in Baluchistan's capital Quetta.
Do not hesitate buying it because you feel strongly about the General's betrayal to India, in the summer of 1999, when he secretly deployed troops in the Indian-controlled Kashmir even as his Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, was reciting peace-poetries with the Indian Prime Minister. Also ignore Mr Musharraf's sinister address to Pakistan, following 9/11, when he defended his decision to support USA by citing the temporary alliance that Prophet Muhammad had tactically made with the infidels of Mecca.
Under no circumstances should your vague distrust for Mr Musharraf make you prejudiced against his memoirs.
Why You Must Not Buy In The Line of Fire?
But there still exists a strong reason not to buy this autobiography – General Pervez Musharraf doesn't love Pakistan.
He is not letting Pakistan takes its rightful place as a modern Islamic nation. He is the latest in a line of dictators to deny the Pakistanis their right to vote out elected governments. He has disallowed non-graduates, a major portion of unprivileged Pakistanis, from running for office, elections that are fraudulent anyway. He has threatened exiled former prime ministers, Pakistan's most popular leaders, with instant imprisonment if they dare to return. He enabled the Islamist parties, for the first time in the country's history, to form their own government.
Most likely it was his malicious regime that kidnapped and killed a journalist early this year. It was his commanders who killed the dissident rebel leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti in such a way that Mr Bugti 'did not know what hit him'.
Worse, he has insulted Pakistani women by calling rape a 'money-making concern' and a ploy by rape victims 'to get money and a visa to emigrate' to western countries.
Finally, can your conscience permit you to buy this book if you have attachments to that section of Pakistani people who happen to be secular, progressive, and desirous of freeing themselves from the yoke of military dictatorship?
Only One Course
It is not to be overlooked that the memoir has received generous media coverage, fuelling suspense and interest, and its author has all good reason to look forward to hefty royalties. Although a word by Mr Hugo Chávez would have helped more than the most passionate recommendations by Mr Bush! Priced at US$ 28, and on sale at Amazon for $16.80, Mr Musharraf has reportedly been paid $1 million by the publishers Simon and Schuster.
Go on, buy the book if it is not disconcerting to have your money trickle into the bank account of this dictator.
But if you are even slightly hesitant, boycott it.