Meet Musharraf, the ladys man

New Delhi, Sept 29 | Updated: Sep 30 2006, 05:30am hrs
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf fell in love with a Bengali girl in Karachi while in his teens, and even opted for an Army unit based in the port city so that he could spend time with her.

It was his second romance in less than a year, and Musharraf was smitten by the girl from Bangladesh immediately after his parents shifted to a new residence on garden road near the Karachi zoo.

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 in the port city. The affair with the Bengali girl, whom Musharraf does not name, continued till 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 familyit was that my Bengali girlfriend was there, he says. Worse, my romance came to an abrupt end when the girls family returned to East Pakistan, he writes.

About his first romance, Musharraf says, 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 causemy first romance. I was too shy to initiate a romance, let alone woo a girl, he said.

The first romance, which he terms as puppy love, was with a girl who was a year older than him and lived next door to his Karachi residence. Musharraf makes no bones in admitting that he used his maternal grandmother as a courier, though 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 girls house as an unwitting courier with a romantic letter in her pocket.

The infatuation lasted till Musharrafs parents moved to a house on garden road, where he fell in love with the Bengali girl.

After these affairs, Musharraf settled for an arranged marriage. On the day I was supposed to go to Sheebas 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 didnt reject me. Sheeba was extremely beautiful, and I fell for her immediately, he says.