Book launch: When self-deception melts away

Published: February 17, 2013
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Gen. Aziz claims he spoke up to arrest the army’s falling standards.

Gen. Aziz claims he spoke up to arrest the army’s falling standards.

ISLAMABAD: 

Lt Gen. (retd.) Shahid Aziz claims he has had a change of heart, his conscience (which never really died) is now alive and kicking and all what he has written in his new book — “Yeh Khamoshi Kahan Tak? Aik Sipahi ki Dastan-e-Ishq o Junoon”, or literally “How Long Will You Remain Silent? A Soldier’s Saga of Love and Passion” — is the “truth.”

Over the past few weeks, Aziz’s book and his interviews on the mainstream media have created a stir. Although he claims his book is just a confessional which mentions some facts as he knows them, the book alleges that the Kargil operation was ill-planned and Gen. (retd.) Pervez Musharraf did not take senior officers into confidence regarding the Pak-US military alliance post-September 11.

Reading from a prepared statement at the book launch on Saturday, Aziz said he had been guilty of self-deception during his career but fear of Judgement Day had made him speak up. “I want the young generation to learn from my mistakes,” Aziz said. He said he thought it necessary to write because he could not bear to witness the falling standards of the Pakistan Army. Aziz was head of the Analysis Wing of the Inter Services Intelligence during the Kargil War and director general of military operations during the 1999 military coup. He retired in 2005.

Aziz has been criticised for not raising his voice before and he defended himself by saying that “nothing would have changed” if he had quit the army. He admitted that at the time of the coup d’état against Nawaz Sharif, he had supported the decision for a military takeover. “The Constitution was not being followed,” he said of the democratic government back then. “The consequences of this (military takeover) were not evident upon me at that time.” Aziz’s book is a self-accountability memoir according to the book’s jacket

At the ceremony, Aziz’s three attempted resignations were brought up, perhaps in an attempt to prove he had a conscience even when  he was in uniform. But the biggest issue with memoirs is that it is often difficult to verify the “truth” supplied by them. Gen. (retd.) Musharraf has refuted Aziz’s claims, according to media reports.

The book launch was mostly a family affair, with Aziz’s wife, children and other relatives praising him for the family man they said he is.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 17th, 2013.

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