A General to a General
by Adnan Gill
GEN. MUSHARRAF: Hello... Hello...
GEN. MUSHARRAF: Tony, I am calling to tell you something from a General to a General.
GEN. (Retd) ZINNI: Yes, Mr. President, what can I do for you?
GEN. MUSHARRAF: O Baba, please don't call me Mr. President. Haven't you read my PCO? It clearly states, I am a Chief of the Army Staff. So call me Mr. General.
GEN. (Retd) ZINNI: Yes, Mr. General, what can I do for you?
GEN. MUSHARRAF: Well, I just wanted to let you know that I just declared the emergency. Some people are calling it the Second Coup.
GEN. (Retd) ZINNI: What do you mean? How can you go through a coup against your own government? And why are you telling me that? I retired from the service years ago. Why don't you call Ms. Rice to inform her?
GEN. MUSHARRAF: O Baba, what do you mean you are retired? How can a general retire? Was there a coup against you too? Yarr, I did not call Condi, because whenever I talk to her she gives me a lecture on democracy, freedom of expression, and tells me what I can and can not do. How can she expect me to listen to her when I don't listen to 160 million Pakistanis? Please don't make me talk to her; she can be really bossy sometimes.
GEN. (Retd) ZINNI: Okay, Mr. General, was the coup approved by the White House?
GEN. MUSHARRAF: No. Not this time.
GEN. (Retd) ZINNI: Sir, it may come as a surprise to you, but we have hundreds of years old tradition of retiring generals when their service time is over, or when their civilian bosses tell them to. But how can I help you?
GEN. MUSHARRAF: I will never understand how you guys can run a government when everyone retires at their expected time. Tony, can you please brief your President Bush that in the interest of fighting terrorism I have suspended the constitution and basic human rights, clamped down on judges, lawyers, human rights workers, journalists, opposition leaders, and you know every other kind of terrorists who questions my infinite wisdom.
GEN. (Retd) ZINNI: Mr. General, you will have to be more specific about what you are up to now?
GEN. MUSHARRAF: Yarr, if I had known that I will have to be specific then I would have called Gen. Powell. Since I don't have a choice, let me tell you why I have gone through the second Martial Law.
GEN. (Retd) ZINNI: Martial Law?
GEN. MUSHARRAF: O Baba, it's the same. Call it whatever you want. There is no difference between Emergency declared under the PCO or Martial Law.
GEN. (Retd) ZINNI: Please continue with your explanation.
GEN. MUSHARRAF: Well, I had no choice but to fight these terrorists with iron fist, because you know I am not scared of anyone.
GEN. (Retd) ZINNI: Mr. General, I'm sorry, I did not realize that the Pakistani judges, lawyers, human rights workers, and journalists were exploding bombs in Pakistan.
GEN. MUSHARRAF: Yes indeed, did you know that the judges who refused to take oath under my PCO were releasing the suicide bombers? You know how your president says, either ‘you are with us or against us’. These judges were not with me, because they were about to give a ruling declaring that my Presidential candidacy was unconstitutional. Even though the Election Commission was merely supporting the war against terrorism by approving my candidacy without even looking at the papers or checking the Constitution, that doesn't mean these terrorist judges had any right to second-guess my edict. Oh, I am sorry; I meant second-guessing of the Election Commission’s decision. Even after 60 years of subjugation these terrorist judges still don't get it, that the word of man with the gun is the Constitution, and not the rubbish on some piece of paper. If that was not enough, these terrorist judges had the audacity of poking their nose where it did not belong.
GEN. (Retd) ZINNI: Like where?
GEN. MUSHARRAF: Yarr, they were investigating the misuse of farms around Islamabad allotted to the high and mighty of Pakistan, like it was any of their business. It's not like these farms were given at dirt-cheap prices to any one group or party. It was bipartisan loot for the Pakistani Big-Boys Club. Instead of bothering the elites these terrorist judges could have gotten a farm or two for themselves and everyone would have been happy. But no, they had to question us. The club members were asking me ‘what was I going to do about it?’ They were pestering me with questions like ‘why don't I take an action against these terrorist judges?’
GEN. (Retd) ZINNI: But Mr. General, how does that make them terrorists?
GEN. MUSHARRAF: Just between you and me, you know that we don't have time to catch the bad guys so we arrested 61 people at random to show my nation and the white house that we are doing something about the terrorism and nonexistent law and order situation in Pakistan. These terrorist judges embarrassed us and tarnished our image of a frontline state by releasing the 61 people on a silly technicality that they were extrajudicially imprisoned.
GEN. (Retd) ZINNI: What do you mean you don't have time? What could be more important than finding the terrorists?
GEN. MUSHARRAF: O Baba, we don't have supercomputers like you to monitor every phone call, SMS message, or go through the e-mails of these terrorists, so whatever manpower we have we had to assign them to snooping on these terrorists who call themselves judges, lawyers, human rights workers, and journalists. Besides, my intelligence chiefs have better things to do like negotiating a ‘you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours’ deal or ‘you get me reelected and I will forgive all of your crimes’ deal. I'm sure you must have heard of the NRO deal by now.
GEN. (Retd) ZINNI: Yes Mr. General, I have heard of the infamous NRO. Now, what kind of terrorist activities were these journalist and the human rights workers involved in?
GEN. MUSHARRAF: Yarr, these journalists are such a thankless bunch. Instead of praising me all the time for allowing them to set up private channels and breaking the monopoly of state media, these thankless terrorists started to report things as they were. If sharing the truth with Pakistanis was for their benefit don't you think we would have done it in the last 60 years? When I raised the slogan of ‘enlightened moderation’ these news junkies mistook it as raising the social and political awareness of the average Pakistani. Now these newly enlightened average Pakistanis are disrupting the war against terrorism by fighting for their rights in the courts and that too publicly with the help of terrorist media. What these media terrorists don't tell the Pakistanis is sometimes it's important to detain people at random with no due process to increase the odds of catching a terrorist by sheer luck. Just because we haven't caught or prosecuted even a single terrorist doesn't mean we should lose hope catching one by chance. Since our jails are overflowing with unaccounted political prisoners we had to make room by extrajudicially deporting some of them to Saudi Arabia and to the terrorist paradises like Guantánamo Bay. But these pesky reporters and judges don't understand that. I had no choice but to arrest them, beat them up, and throw them in jails to rot for the rest of their lives, because they were demoralizing and paralyzing the administration, which is not used to being answerable to anyone, especially the public. Now you tell me, am I right or what? How can a dictator function when the nosy reporters and judiciary constantly second-guess our dictatorial rule?
GEN. (Retd) ZINNI: Mr. General, I really don't know how to respond to that. But I'm sure you are doing good job at catching the Al-Qaeda and foreign mercenaries within your territory.
GEN. MUSHARRAF: Tony, I can tell, you haven't lost your sense of humor. I thought you always knew that there is no Al-Qaeda and foreign mercenaries, or wouldn’t we have had caught at least one by now? And even if by chance there are some of them on the Pakistani soil, why would we catch them? If we catch all of them then you guys will once again pack up and leave, and forget about us. Who is going to give us unaccountable $10 billion if the war on terrorism ends today?
GEN. (Retd) ZINNI: Mr. General, I am little puzzled. Then who are you fighting with in the Tribal Areas and Swat Valley?
GEN. MUSHARRAF: Yarr, don't tell it to anyone, but they are our own people. We had to kill a few hundred citizens; because Karzai and the White House kept on saying we were not doing anything to fight the terrorists. So we had to put up a show, you know, what you people call collateral-damage.
GEN. (Retd) ZINNI: But Mr. General, we thought there were huge battles going on in those areas. Then who had been taking hundreds of your army men hostages?
GEN. MUSHARRAF: O Baba, don't get me started on that. During the last eight years the civilians had been corrupting my men. Now half of my men have started to think for themselves. They have joined the terrorists. They do not fire blindly on the civilians anymore. Can you believe that the discipline has become so bad that these men now refuse to obey my orders and spare the lives of their countrymen? They actually prefer to become hostages over killing even a single civilian. But little do they know that I have other tricks up under my sleeves. I tell my Air Force and Gunship pilots that Osama is hiding at such and such place. These fools actually believe me and end up bombing whomever I want them to. Beside, I am doing a favor to these civilians, because in the last eight years disparity among rich and poor has only increased, reasonable jobs are almost impossible to find, inflation and unemployment are record high, and it's not like we are producing additional food; so if you ask me, they are better off in heaven than living on this hell on earth.
GEN. (Retd) ZINNI: Hmmn... Mr. General, I am lost for the words. I don't know what to say.
GEN. MUSHARRAF: Ops... Yarr, I was just joking. I didn't mean everything I said. Please forget everything I said. Please don't tell it to President Bush. It will look really bad. I promise I won't do it again.
GEN. (Retd) ZINNI: Mr. General, please don't worry. Because I'm not sure if President Bush will be able to understand even half of what you said. Just keep on saying ‘water on terrorism’, ‘war on terrorism’, and I assure you, you will be A-Okay. I have to go now. Take care, Mr. General. I will talk to you later.
GEN. MUSHARRAF: Okay Tony. Goodnight. And Tony, you promised you won't tell everything to President Bush or Condi, right?
GEN. (Retd) ZINNI: I said, goodbye Mr. General.
GEN. MUSHARRAF: Thank you Sir. Oh, I mean, bye Tony.
Disclaimer: Above transcript is a political satire. All characters are fictional.