Vol. 5 Num 834 Sat. September 30, 2006  
Front Page

Musharraf had a crush on a Bangalee girl

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf had a crush, in his teens, on a girl from erstwhile East Pakistan living in Karachi and even opted for an army unit based there so that he could spend time with her.

It was Musharraf's second romance in less than a year immediately after his parents shifted to a new neighbourhood on Garden Road in Karachi.

"On Garden Road, I fell straight into my next romance. She was a beautiful Bengali girl from East Pakistan. This crush was somewhat less frivolous than my first," Musharraf writes in his autobiography 'In The Line Of Fire: A Memoir'.

His first 'puppy love' was a girl who was his next-door neighbour in another locality of Karachi.

The 'affair' with the Bengali girl, whom Musharraf does not name, continued until he became a second lieutenant in the Pakistan Army. He even opted for the 36th Light Anti-aircraft Regiment, as all its training courses were held in Karachi.

"Why my fixation on Karachi? The reason was not my family -- it was that my Bengali girlfriend was there," he said.

However, Musharraf ran short of luck, as it was decided by the army that no one could go directly to the anti-aircraft regiment without undertaking basic artillery training.

"Worse, my romance came to an abrupt end when the girl's family returned to East Pakistan," he wrote.

"She is happily married now and lives in Bangladesh," Musharraf said adding that he had a hunch his mother suspected all along that he was in a relationship because he slipped in his studies.

About his first romance, Musharraf said, "I had been an above average student, usually among the first four in my class. That year (when he was 15), my grades dropped dramatically. The cause: my first romance."

"I was too shy to initiate a romance, let alone woo a girl," he added.

The first romance, which he terms 'puppy love', was with a girl who was a year older than him and lived next door to his Karachi home.

Musharraf makes no bones in admitting he used his maternal grandmother as a courier without her knowledge.

"I used to tell Nani Amma [grandmother] that she should visit the neighbours .... before she went, I would hide a letter in her burqa (veil) and pass a message to the girl explaining where to find it.

"Poor Nani Amma would go to the girl's house as an unwitting courier with a romantic letter in her pocket."

The girl was very beautiful and the 'infatuation' lasted until Musharraf's parents moved to the house on Garden Road.

After these 'affairs', Musharraf settled for an arranged marriage. "On the day I was supposed to go to Sheeba's [his wife] house and meet her family, I arrived in a shirt and trousers wearing open-toed sandals..."

"...Sheeba was appalled that a fashion disaster had come for her hand...yet for some reasons, she didn't reject me... Sheeba was extremely beautiful, and I fell for her immediately," he said.