A recently published book of Begum Kalsoom Saifullah 'Meri Tanha Parvaz' (My Solo Flight) is selling quickly in the local market because of its controversial material. However, some of the disclosures in the book have created a breach among PML-Like-minded leaders.
The first edition of Ms Safiullah's autobiography was released on Wednesday (Sept 14) but the second one will not come for sale unless some of its chapters are withdrawn or removed.
In the book, Begum Safiullah narrates the events of her 50 years worth of political experience. The author relates her version of the truth from the time of former Prime Minister and founder of present ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's (ZAB) era to Nawaz Sharif's tenure as prime minister in her autobiography. Her book includes her experiences of working with ZAB and other political figures as well as high ranking military officials.
Ms Safiullah started writing the book two years ago when she probably had not considered the possibility that those very same people who she labels “opportunists” would later end up as political aides for her sons.
“Gen Zia once told me when he came to Peshawar, he brought his wife in a Tonga. Similarly, Gen Akhtar Abdur Rehman told me that he could not even afford to buy a cycle. However, these people went on accumulating wealth and property in a manner which is incomprehensible,” she wrote.
However, since writing these words and including other allegations in her book, her son Salim Saifullah, along with other leaders of Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) have made a separate faction within the party. Furthermore, her son became the head of PML-Likeminded group and Humayum Akhtar, son of Gen Akhtar Abdul Rehman, acquired the position of secretary general in the disgruntled faction.
“We are in trouble because I am president of the party and the book annoyed my secretary general Humayun Akhtar,” said Salim Saifullah.
In order to control the damage, Saifullah's family tendered an apology to General Akhtar's family.
“We tendered our apologies not only to General Akhtar's family but also to others who have been hurt by Begum Kalsoom's revelations,” said Mr Saifullah.
Mr Saifullah blamed the editor of the book instead of the author for what should not have been published in the autobiography. “I did not go through the book as I was out of the country and my elder brother Anwar Saifullah was handling the publication, but it is the editor's fault that he did not remove controversial paragraphs from the book. My mother first met General Akhtar when he was a serving general and what she wrote about his past was on the basis of what she had heard from others.”
Humanyun Akhtar said that Begum Kulsoom and Senator Salim Saifullah Khan contacted his family and apologised for the book's comments about his father.
“Begum Kulsoom is a very illustrious lady but because of old age and her eyesight problem, the book has been written and edited by other people. As a result these remarks inadvertently appeared in the book,” he said.
He added: “Saifullah's family assured us these remarks have been removed from all the remaining books and any future publications of it.”
Interestingly, although Begum Kalsoom's book has been distributed to book shops in large numbers, Salim Saifullah says that only 2,000 were originally marketed and that no new edition would be sent to the market for sale unless controversial remarks are removed from it.
Book sellers in Islamabad said the book is doing good business and a large number of people are coming to buy it. The cost of the book is Rs500.
“We have sold 300 books in only two days but we have been asked that the new edition be sent after some corrections,” said an employee of Mr Books in Jinnah Super Market.
However, nothing can be done with the sold books and no one can be stopped in future from quoting it in their writings and speeches.
Some other interesting disclosures in the book are that:
ZAB could have saved his life had he controlled his tongue in the jail.
ZAB's attitude was rigid and inflexible after his arrest.
During Bhutto's imprisonment, some of his colleagues were busy arranging their marriages.
On the Ojhri Camp tragedy, the author wrote, “I can confidently say that some Stinger missiles were taken out of the Ojhri Camp on orders from General Zia so that they can be provided to Iran, and Gen Zia ordered that Ojhri Camp be blown up before the arrival of the US inspection team.”