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Musharraf buys all copies of sensitive ‘65 war book

Sunday, 1 October 2006 - 12:17am IST

The army felt 'The Myth of 1965' Victory by Lieutenant General Mahmood Ahmed would malign the armed forces’ image.

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Army general headquarters has purchased all 22,000 copies of a sensitive book by a former Inter Services Intelligence(ISI) chief on the myth of the victory claimed by the Pakistan Army in the 1965 war against India.

The army felt The Myth of 1965 Victory by Lieutenant General Mahmood Ahmed would malign the armed forces’ image.

According to GHQ sources, army chief General Pervez Musharraf found the book, published by Oxford University Press, ‘too sensitive’.

The sources said Mahmood had submitted the manuscript to the GHQ as per rules. However, after going through the manuscript, the GHQ referred it to Musharraf, who noted on the file that Mahmood should review sensitive parts of the book and the title, especially the use of the word ‘myth’ in relation to the 1965 war.

Mahmood refused to make suggested major deletions, claiming the book was in print. 

Under the circumstances, the sources said, the GHQ directed the Army Book Club to immediately buy all copies, worth millions of rupees, directly from the publishers, to stop it from being marketed.

When leading distribution houses contacted Oxford, they were told the book had been sold out. Even otherwise, the sources said, it was binding on the publishers, under a revised contract, not to provide it for general distribution.

The sources said Mahmood, considered a hawkish pan-Islamist, tried to get a few hundred copies for his library but could not get the GHQ’s permission.

Mahmood is at the centre of a recent controversy for having quoted former American deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage on issuing him a blunt warning in September 2001 that Pakistan could be bombed back to the Stone Age unless it cooperated in the United States-led war on terror, as stated by Musharraf in an interview in Washington recently.

Musharraf recently mentioned Mahmood’s book in an interview to the foreign press in the US, while describing his former aide’s post-retirement activities and referring to it as unpublished.

The sources said Mahmood joined the Tableeghi Jamaat after being relieved of his post-retirement assignment to head the Fauji Fertilizer Corporation. He is one of seven generals who carried out the coup against Nawaz Sharif in 1999. He was Corps Commander, Rawalpindi, at that time, but was rewarded for his loyalty to Musharraf and made director general, ISI.

However, soon after the 9/11 terror attacks, he was retired prematurely and sent home, amid speculation that he had been too soft on the Taliban to suit changing circumstances.

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