Thursday, December 3, 2009

Former President Pervez Musharraf joins Facebook

Social networking website Facebook has a new member — former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, who has signed up to “connect” with the youth of his country.

Musharraf’s page, which was created a month ago but made public recently, already has over 27,000 fans.

The former military ruler, currently living outside Pakistan, has posted a video, in which he says why he chose Facebook to interact with youth.

“Welcome to my Facebook page, which I launched about one month back. I am extremely encouraged by the positive, enthusiastic response that I received.

It is my pleasure to be interacting with all of you,” Musharraf said in the video message.

“The youth is extremely concerned, I may even say extremely disturbed about what is happening in Pakistan, what has happened in Pakistan in the past, and why it has happened that way and also what is the future of Pakistan.

“The page has several little-known details about Musharraf — such as the fact that India Today magazine ranks alongside Economist, Newsweek and Time among his favourite journals.

Or that westerns, World War II films and historical epics like Ben Hur, Lawrence of Arabia, Spartacus and Gladiator are among his favourite movies.

Musharraf lists ghazals and pre-Partition film songs as his favourite music and Noor Jehan, Mehdi Hasan, K L Saigal and Mukesh as his favourite singers.

He has also uploaded photos on his page, including one taken at the Taj Mahal during his summit at Agra with former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

His favourite quotations include Napoleon’s strategic decision-making philosophy, that every decision is “two-thirds analysis, and one-third leap in the dark.

He wrote: “I feel trying to expand the two-thirds analysis leads to ‘paralysis through analysis’ (Nixon’s quote), and expanding the one-third leap in the dark leads to recklessness, endangering oneself and others.

Striking the right balance is the true art of decision-making. His other favourite quote is by historian Stanley Wolpert: “Few individuals significantly alter the course of history.

Fewer still modify the map of the world.

Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state. Mohammad Ali Jinnah did all three.

“In his video message, Musharraf explained he chose Facebook to air his views because he was “thinking how I could contribute my bit towards quenching.

“The thirst of (the) youth, especially on their concerns about Pakistan. The only way I thought possible was to develop a connectivity with all of you.

I need to collectivise this, collectivise so that I can answer to all of them through one medium, which is the connectivity of Facebook.”

Members have been asked to “engage constructively” and have been warned that “uncivil posts will be removed or edited.”

Political observers believe Musharraf has chosen not to return to Pakistan since mid-April as he is worried by a raft of legal and police cases registered against him.

However, in the “personal information section”, Musharraf wrote: “Since my retirement as President of Pakistan in August 2008, I have been keeping myself busy with a global lecture series.

“Besides the lectures, I find time to meet well wishers and friends. After many years of a regimented daily routine, I am able to spend quality time with my family. I also find time to play golf, tennis and bridge.

Comments are piling up on Musharraf’s page.

Amin Bhaila, a Facebooker, wants to know “of all the things that you had done in your tenure, which thing still bothers you the most?”

Waseem Akhter says, “We all love you, the young generation (is) waiting for you to join the politics of Pakistan in order to change it and kick out all these corrupt politicians.

Whether you love him or hate him, I am sure that deep down inside you, a part of you still wants Musharraf back (unless you are Nawaz Sharif). Musharraf recently launched his facebook page ( and has attracted 36,166 fans as of now which is not a bad number, considering that there are only one million facebook users in Pakistan. If you ever wanted to ask Musharraf a question, now is your chance to do so. Every now and then, Mr Musharraf will select the most relevant questions and answer them in a YouTube video. He has already answered a few questions already (as mentioned in the “Notes” section of his page). Give them a watch if you want to know Musharraf’s perspective on the issues we are facing these days (whether you agree or not).

So for now, I am keeping a close eye on his Facebook page because Mushy might have a trick or two up his sleeve.

Fingers crossed.