Most political biographies are known to be written for personal aggrandisement, highlighting one’s achievements. Yet the best among them are those that have disclosures, confessions and admissions of one’s own mistakes. Usually, the biographer is the hero of his own epic political story. The rivals cum villains try to impede his epic journey to the heights of power.
Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain’s biographical book Such to Yeh Hai is an overwhelmingly positive book, making it seem like a fairytale with angel-like figures instead of flawed humans. The book is too decent for all including his rivals in politics. The story has no villains and ends without touching the highest point of an epic.
“Forgive and forget” is the main theme. Compromise instead of principles is the leitmotif in the entire book. The hero (of course he is my hero as well) is neither brave nor adventurous. Not even once in the book does he seem ready to sacrifice power and stick to his own principles.
The hero of the book is opposed to killing Nawab Akbar Bugti because he was a benefactor of his father Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi. But once Bugti is killed by the mighty General Nadeem Ijaz (as perceived in the book), he immediately accepts the incident as a fate accompli and continues to stick with the same regime.
The hero of the book is whole-heartedly against the operation at Lal Masjid but once the operation ends in bloodshed and burns everyone alive, my hero is content to look after the orphan girls saved during the operation. But, on the political front, he still continues to support the same “brutal” regime.
Chaudhry Shujaat appears to have no bones, no principle; he is just a man on the pulpit who preaches good words but whose actions are not compatible with his words. The picture drawn by the book is of a clumsy politician who compromises on his principles. But Shujaat in real life is a much better person with a noble soul, a sympathetic heart and a non-vindictive harmless politician.
His father Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi, on the contrary, was a brave and dominating Jat who hated submissive and accommodating politics. He was the epic hero of Punjab who left the Ayub Government at the height of its power. He stood like a rock against Ayub and Bhutto. The book praises the valour of Ch. Zahoor Elahi but it does not mention even one example of such a bold move by the author.
Shujaat has a reputation of being truthful but this biography is only about selective and convenient truths. The biggest disclosure in the book is that the deputy secretary of State Department under George W Bush, Richard Armitage told Shujaat that Gen. Musharraf, Tariq Aziz and Condoleezza Rice had planned PML-Q’s defeat in the 2008 elections. But the chronology of events does not support this claim. Richard Armitage was out of the State Department since 2005 so how could he disclose a policy made in 2008. Armitage was just an ordinary US citizen in 2008 so his “disclosure” against his rivals Richard Boucher and Ms Rice in the State Department carried no weight. This disclosure does not have any moral standing. If the powerful Gen Musharraf was against Q League, he would have thrown it out without much trouble.
The book mysteriously misses the most crucial political engineering in 2002. The book is selective. It fully misses this part as it has no mention of the patriot turncoats who were forced or lured to support the PML-Q government. The favours showered by Major General Hussain Mehdi could not find any space in the precious pages of the book though Mehdi was the main architect of 2002 Q League victory in Punjab and he was a major influence in the formation of Patriot Group.
Similarly, no details are given about the formation of the PML-Q under the patronage of powerful quarters which still is a dark chapter in the political history of Pakistan. As a politician and scion of a political family Ch. Shujaat owes at least an apology to the nation for becoming part of this conspiracy against democracy.
The book does not disclose the long list of differences between Musharraf and Chaudhries. It also does not elaborate the ideological gaps between my hero Shujaat and the army regarding Taliban. My hero had sympathy for the Taliban but he happened to be part of the contingent fighting against them. What a contradiction!
The book does not explain the Q-League’s reason for opposing Gen. Musharraf’s NRO with Benazir Bhutto. It also does not offer any good rationale for joining the PPP cabinet during Zardari regime. What happened to his anti-PPP rightist beliefs? Was the allegation on Al-Zulifqar of Zahoor Elahi’s murder put on the back burner for the sake of political expediency? No explanation is given.
The maverick Principal Secretary of President Musharraf, Tariq Aziz has been a patron of Chaudhry brothers since long. It is no secret that it was Tariq Aziz who brought the Chaudhries closer to Gen. Musharraf. Tariq Aziz protected, patronised and promoted his Jat Warraich clan’s men to the highest echelons of power. But he was ditched in the end. Ch. Shujaat should have given more details of this lifelong partnership with Tariq Aziz and how the relationship went sour?
Read also: Not the whole truth
Every thinking person has a philosophy of life and we all know Shujaat is an intelligent person with rustic wisdom. But the book does not tell he is in favour of democracy, military rule or a hybrid of both. We never come to know whether my hero wants a jihadi state with homegrown terrorism or a liberal Pakistan with democratic dispensation. He is a pragmatist and no idealist.
My bit of advice to Ch. Shujaat: he should come out and lead the democratic struggle and be counted among the politicians and not among the anti-politicians.