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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Have you read this, Mr PM?

Perhaps if Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had reads excerpts from former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf's memoir called, In the Line of Fire, he would have a re-think on his invitation to the present Pak leadership, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari about inviting them to Mohali to watch the India vs Pak cricket semi-final tomorrow.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (L) shaking hands
with his Pakistani counterpart Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani

In his memoir, the general, known as Mush, currently in exile in London, spewed venom about India, mocking the country's fake encounters (during war) and laughing at gallantry awards which he said were a figment of the Indian army's imagination.

On page 301 of his book, Musharraf talks about an Indo-Pak cricket match he watched while in India. Even at that time, Mush claimed Indian PM Manmohan Singh invited him to the match.

An excerpt from the book reads, "My next meeting with Manmohan Singh occurred when the Pakistani cricket team toured Indian and he invited me to one of the games. I accepted the invitation and went to a one-day match in Delhi on April 18, 2005. I travelled via Ajmer Sharif the visit that I had missed after the Agra summit. This, I thought, was an auspicious beginning."

"April 18, 2005, began with the cricket match. Unfortunately, for my hosts, the match turned out to be an embarrassment for India because one of Pakistan's star batsmen, Shahid Afridi, clobbered virtually every ball that the Indians bowled at him.

Many of his hits headed straight for our VIP enclosure. Like any normal cricket fan, I wanted to jump out of my seat shouting and clapping, but I had to control my enthusiasm in deference to my hosts. Before the match was over, we left for our discussions. It goes without saying that I was dying to get back to the exciting match.

So during our official one-on-one meeting I suggested to the prime minister that we go back to see the last hour of the match and also distribute the prizes. I made him agree in spite of his concerns about security. By then, as the meeting continued, my staff kept sending in notes informing me about the collapse of the Indian team when its turn came to bat.

India's entire team got out long before the end of the game. Tightly repressing any outward signs of my inner joy, I had to inform Manmohan Singh that the Indian team's batting had been wasted and there was no point in another visit to the stadium. "Boys will be boys," some might say, but they obviously don't know cricket or the importance of a match between Pakistan and India."

Then Musharraf says on the next page, "I invited Manmohan Singh to Pakistan and he accepted readily.

As I write this in June 2006, we are still awaiting his visit. The Indian cricket team toured Pakistan in early 2006. This gave India's prime minister an opening but he didn't take it, apparently because Indian officialdom felt that our discussions were far too serious to be missed with something as, "frivolous" as cricket.

As it turned out, India won four out of five one-day international games. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could have attended one of the games that India won, and we would have been even!"
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