General, you've stepped in during challenging times," was all I had to say when I had first met the newly-appointed chief of army staff, Gen Pervez Musharraf, on the serene and lush green lawns on the estate of former MNA M.P. Bhandara. The lunch was an opportunity for Bhandara's neighbour to meet a cross-section of people including senior diplomats.
"I've been trained to face challenges," he'd replied. Little did he know his greatest challenge would come when he would be airborne and that the same man who only a few years ago hand-picked him over his seniormost general, General Ali Kuli, would be trying to get rid of him. Bored with him, Sharif was negotiating with another general.
"Musharraf was my director-general of military operations. He wasn't a cleric. He was a professional soldier and I thought he was very courageous and brave. He'd been a commando and one who is a commando can take tremendous risks and think afterwards," was what Benazir Bhutto had to say when she heard about the army coup.
Musharraf has this once certainly taken a huge risk even...