General Pervez Musharraf1, Indian Airforce

Years ago, in Delhi, lived a boy called Musharraf
(adapted from an article in the Indian Express 18/10/99)

Neharwali Haveli, Musharraf’s ancestral home, located in Darya Ganj.

THE man who has set out to change the course of history in Pakistan was born in a sprawling "haveli" at Kucha Saadullah Khan, now a congested and dirty locality behind Delhi's landmark Golcha cinema in Daryaganj, the walled city. Gen Pervez Musharraf, who deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a sensational bloodless coup after being dismissed as Chief of Army Staff, spent his early childhood in the "Nehar Wali Haveli".

This all was revealed by Mr Khalid Mehmood, the enigmatic uncle of General Musharraf, who revealed the Indian roots of the General soon after the October 12 military takeover in Pakistan. Mehmood was the first cousin of Syed Musharraf Uddin, Musharraf's father. He was also born in the same 'nehar wali haveli' where General Musharraf spent his early childhood. A bachelor, who lived in the walled city alone, he ran a small publishing business at Urdu Bazaar near the Jama Masjid, which ran into losses in the face of mounting competition.

The parts of the 'Nehar Wali Haveli' have long since given way to a commercial and residential complex. However, a small dilapidated portion of the original structure still stands but is not safe to be lived in. Two small rooms on the first floor were occupied by a driver who packed up and left a couple of months back. According to neighbours, he has not been seen since. The haveli, like most evacuee properties on either side of the divide, was occupied by the locals when the riots broke out in 1947 and people fled to save their lives.However, none of the neighbours has any inkling of who lived there at the time of partition or who owns the rundown property now.

The high roofs and arches of the haveli are believed to have earlier witnessed history in the middle of the 18th century when it was occupied by a "Wazir" (Minister) in the court of Bahadur Shah Zafar — the last Mughal emperor. The dingy four-storeyed Gola Market behind Golcha cinema occupies part of the haveli which was bought by General Musharraf’s grandfather Qazi Mohtashimuddin when he retired as a Commissioner in undivided Punjab.

General Musharraf is the second of three sons of Syed Musharraf Uddin, a cashier with the Directorate General of Civil Supplies in Delhi who was absorbed into the foreign service when he migrated to Pakistan at the time of partition. Syed rose to be Joint Secretary in the Foreign Office. Syed Musharraf Uddin passed away in December 1999, after a protracted illness.

Age has withered Khalid Mehmood's frame but his mental faculties are astonishingly sharp. It is with a lump in the throat that he reminisces about his nephew, "hamara khoon" (our blood), who made it big, and how the family migrated. "Those were terrible times. Riots had broken out and there was blood and mayhem everywhere. Syed Musharrafuddin managed to reach Gul-i-Rana, the mansion of Nawab Liaqat Ali Khan which later became the official residence of the Pakistan High Commissioner. What happened after that I do not know." (Nawab Liaqat Ali Khan, who served as Finance Minister in the interim government later became the first Prime Minister of Pakistan.)

Pervez was the first to join the army from a family of bureaucrats, he said. "I have not seen him (General Musharraf) since my cousin migrated to Pakistan. I was there when he was born in the August of 1943. I also was born in the same haveli. The partition shattered my life and divided the family. I saw my daughter-in-law (the General’s wife) for the first time when the newspapers carried her photograph after the change of guard in Pakistan. General Musharraf’s elder brother Javed, who was educated at Anglo-Arabic School at Ajmeri Gate was a top officer with the Pakistan Foreign Service while the youngest, Naved, practices medicine in the USA.

When Mr Mehmood's interview on Gen. Musharraf's walled city roots created a sensation, several media organisations came forward to Interview him, but he refused saying he did not want to cash in on his nephew's success. On October 5, 2000, Khalid Mehmood died after a cardiac arrest, he was 75. He was buried at the Delhi Gate graveyard with no Pakistan High Commission officials present, his friends said.

More Musharraf Info
(taken from an article by S. Haleem in the Indian Express 22/10/99)

On September 20, 1947, around noon, a riotous mob gathered outside the “Nehar Wali Haveli” at Kucha Saadullah Khan in the walled city, thirsting for blood. About 40 Muslims were holed up inside, fearing for their lives. The mob made a lot of threatening noises but maintained a safe distance fearing that the people who had taken shelter inside the ancestral property of General Pervez Musharraf, could be armed.

Fortunately, the police arrived in time and escorted them to Purana Qila on the Sher Shah Suri Marg, where arrangements had been made to accommodate displaced people. “Mob mentality was at work and everyone wanted to occupy evacuee property,’’says a septuagenarian, then aged around 20 years, who saw it all. The man came here from Lahore well before the riots broke out and was staying with his brother-in-law, principal of a top Delhi college, when communal riots broke out. He now has a stake in the haveli. “It is possible that young Pervez could have been in the group that was escorted out by the forces,’’ he said on condition that his identity not be disclosed.

But the young General was not among the group. Original deed documents now available with the UNI reveal that Pervez Musharraf’s father, Syed Musharrafuddin had moved out of the haveli at least a year earlier. On November 4, 1946, Musharrafuddin signed as a witness the documents (taqsim nama), by which the heirs of Qazi Mohtashimuddin, the General’s great grandfather, divided the huge haveli among themselves. He gave Baron Road, New Delhi (near Minto Bridge) as his place of residence. The document, bearing an impression of King George V, was registered with the Sub-Registrar of Properties, province of Delhi.

The haveli, spread over 24,817 sq ft and valued in 1946 at Rs 100,000, was divided between the five siblings (three brothers—Motaminuddin, Nizamuddin and Muizuddin, and two sisters) according to the “Shariat’’ (Islamic law) which provides for a share to daughters in the father’s property. Musharrafuddin’s mother, Amina Begum, and aunt Syeda Begum, both got equal shares measuring 2569 sq ft.(then valued at Rs 12,500) .

On the paternal side, General Pervez Musharraf’s family tree could not be traced beyond his grandfather — Syed Sharfuddin — who died early leaving behind a young widow to take care of his two sons. Amina Begum returned to the ‘Nehar Wali Haveli’ and stayed there till her elder son, Ashraf, found a job with the Department of Revenue, and was allotted accommodation on Baron Road. The family later shifted to Arambagh in Pahargang and Qureshi Manzil on Khajoor Road at Karol Bagh before migrating to Pakistan.

Little is known about Sharfuddin. He was born at Makhdoom Patti, a locality in Panipat (undivided Punjab) and is believed to have come from a family of “Sajjadanasheens’’(caretakers of Sufi shrines). The search in Panipat was only partly productive. Birma, probably the oldest living “jamadar’’ in the city, and the only one to remember the Sharfuddin family, says: “Their house (still in good condition) is right next to the dargah of Hazrat Shah Makhdoom.’’ He remembers little else. The family shifted to Delhi well before Independence.

Efforts to trace a neighbour of Musharrafuddin, Syed Mahmood Nizami of 13, Baron Road, led the search to Amroha in Uttar Pradesh. Mr Nizami, an employee of the Department of Food, had signed the “taqsim nama’’ as the second witness. However, enquiries revealed that he also opted for Pakistan at the time of partition where he died around 1988.

Karan Thapar's notorious interview with the General
(taken from the Hindustan Times 15/2/2000)

"I'm not scared. I'm a soldier," Gen. Pervez Musharraf told Karan Thapar on India's state-owned Doodarshan television station in February 2000. The sitdown interview - the first on Indian broadcast media since Musharraf seized power in Pakistan in October 1999 - was a media coup for both men. Thapar, known for his confrontational on-air style, got to grill the general while Musharraf repeatedly made his point that if the Kashmir issue is not resolved, there's little basis for resolving other disputes with New Delhi. "Is there a possibility of developing warmth or trust when the main cause of mistrust remains?" he asked Thapar. Musharraf's cool style under pressure won him points at home and possibly in India. Even when he caved in to pressure he was a winner. "I would like to meet Mr. [PM Atal Behari] Vajpayee, we should meet," he conceded to Thapar after repeated coaxing.

Sometimes the most unlikely things can leave a lasting impression. You don’t expect them, you certainly can’t plan for them but when they occur they change everything. In a flash all that has happened before alters and all that is to follow is conditioned. Last week this happened on two consecutive days but in two separate countries and with two quite different people. One of them was General Musharraf. The other Shah Rukh Khan.

I was in Islamabad to interview Pakistan’s Chief Executive. As an Indian interviewer my first objective was to get him to accept he is a military dictator and that his claim to be restoring democracy is codswallop. The other was to talk to him about how his actions – or lack of them – were the real problem in Indo-Pakistan relations.

As you can imagine it’s not the sort of task that will endear the interviewer to the interviewee and I must admit there was a certain apprehension in my heart. I wasn’t scared or worried but I felt that things might not go well. After all, you can’t sit in a man’s drawing room and call him a tanashah to his face and not annoy or at least upset him. When that inevitably happens the air equally inexorably turns frosty.

Well, I did my bit. I called the general a dictator, I told him that in Indian eyes his sincerity and credibility were utterly suspect and I claimed to have discovered the contradictions that bedevil him. He is an army chief who has overthrown an elected prime minister in the name of democracy yet wants his protestations to be taken at face value even though he is not prepared to do very much to prove his credentials. As I put it to him, what could be more bizarre than that?

The General simply smiled. In fact it wasn’t long before I noticed he was unperturbed. Of course,he defended himself, always fluently, often ably and even nodded in agreement with some of the comments I made. By taking my critique on the chin and showing no anger he cleverly defused it.

During the commercial break, instinctively feeling I needed to make small talk to keep a relationship going, I complimented the General on his tie. I had not expected any response leave aside the one I got.

“Do you really like it?” he asked, a smile lighting up his face and his voice revealing the same innocent pleasure that you or I would feel if someone had admired our clothes.

“Yes I do,” I said. “It’s very attractive.”

Then the interview re-started. Part two was on Kashmir which means the disagreements were sharper and the potential for acrimony greater. Half an hour later when we ended the tie was the last thing on my mind. My thoughts were on making a polite but fast gateaway.

“I’d like you to have this,” General Musharraf suddenly said undoing his tie. “Please let me give it to you.”

“Sir, sir, sir,” I stammered. “That was only an innocent remark. I wasn’t hinting or anything.”

“I know,” he replied. “It’s my gesture of conciliation to you.”

“Thank you,” I said still shaken. Then looking at the gold tie-pin and chain now dangling on his shirt I added with a laugh: “I should have admired the gold chain. May be you would have given that to me as well.”

The General roared. “Ha,” he said, “Aur agar aap ko jootie pasand aaie hoti to woh bhi mil jaati!”

In a flash the tension evaporated and the mood was full of bonhomie. The spontaneous gesture of gifting his tie had brought about a sea change. It wasn’t only I who felt it. My colleagues, who had come with me from India, were equally aware of the altered atmosphere and the fact that General Musharraf deserved credit for it. Their verdict said it all:

“Banda sahi hei. Burra nahin. Dil ka saaf hei.”

Thank you General Musharraf. Every time I wear your tie I shall fondly remember my visit to your home, Army House in Rawalpindi.