Published in The Independent, it is definitely worth reading.
‘Since you were so kind as to greet us in London at Downing Street last month, the President would like to return the favour,” announces Major-General Rashid Qureshi, President Pervez Musharraf’s PR man over the phone. Only in Pakistan could the government’s head of spin be a retired major-general. He is referring to my last encounter with the President on 28 January when, along with a 2,000-strong, placard-waving, slogan-jeering mob, I protested on the main road outside 10 Downing Street while Musharraf discussed democracy with Gordon Brown over lunch inside. On the way in he waved at us. Clearly he’s a man who is not afraid of confrontation. Much to the justifiable fury of every journalist in Islamabad, he has now granted me an exclusive half-hour interview despite or perhaps because of the fact that I have recently described him as one of the most repressive dictators Pakistan has ever known.
On the way to the Camp Office in Rawalpindi, I cross the bridge and pass the petrol station, which mark the spots of two recent attempts on the life of the now deeply unpopular President. I have a horrible fear that, bamboozled under the spotlight of his renowned charm, I may start to simper. My ex-husband, one of the President’s most vocal critics, has already told me he thinks this is all a terrible idea. “It will be misinterpreted in Pakistan. Besides, you’ll be too soft on him,” he said.
The Camp Office turns out to be an old colonial building which used to be the HQ of the northern command under the British. With its delicately carved, wooden, double-height ceilings, sweeping central staircase, marble floors and ornate carpets, it’s not hard to see why the President chose this as his private office in Rawalpindi. His residence is just up the driveway.