NEW YORK, Sept 24: The advance sale of President Pervez Musharraf’s book In the Line of Fire has been going through the roof on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble web sites since Gen Musharraf told the CBS news 60-minute programme that a threat to “bomb Pakistan to stone age” was conveyed by the then deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage to Pakistan’s then intelligence chief Lt-Gen Mahmood Ahmed.

In order to push the sales up, the Barnes and Noble, the biggest book retailer, is offering 30 per cent discount on the book in the first two weeks of its launch, which will bring the price down to $22. Amazon.com is also trying to match the price.

President Musharraf was to arrive in New York on Sunday afternoon following a quick trip to Texas town of Paris where he was given a full medical check-up.

Information Minister Muhammad Ali Durrani told reporters on Sunday that “the president is fighting fit”, to dispel reports of a “heart attack”.

He said the check-up was pre-scheduled and was carried out by prominent Pakistan-American specialist Dr Hashmi, who had suggested it.

The book would be launched on Monday evening at a book signing ceremony at the Council of Foreign Relations with remarks by the president. The ceremony is scheduled to last two hours.

The buzz created by the president’s claim on CBS television has propelled interest in the book. While most American officials, including Mr Armitage, have denied having used such a harsh language, Gen Musharraf insists that Gen Mahmoud conveyed the message to him.

Mr Armitage who met Gen Musharraf in his hotel in Washington insisted that he had never used such a language and President Bush who met the general at the White House also expressed surprise at the revelation and asked “why now after five years and why in New York? “The answer, to quote President Bush, is: “He wants you to buy his book.”

The feeling among most Pakistanis here is of shock and horror, as most who were interviewed by Dawn said that even if the report of threat was true, why Gen Musharraf used this occasion to reveal it.

Many Pakistan in New York and Washington also questioned President Musharraf’s almost three week long stay in the United States, along with a 70 odd member delegation, including 10 federal ministers.

“It could cost the Pakistani exchequer quite a penny only to promote the book by the general,” one of them said, adding: “Isn’t it misuse of taxpayers’ money?”

“It is incomprehensible that so much of country’s precious foreign exchange is being squandered”, said another.

Many political pundits and reporters accompanying the president speculate whether he will reveal some inside details of the Agra Summit with then Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, which had ended in a fiasco? Or, going a bit further, will he tell the world all that he knows about Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden?

The book, purportedly ghost-written, is spread over 368 pages. The book the publishers blurb says it is about a detailed life story of the president with a first-hand account of the important events that shaped his life.

Originally written in English, the book is also likely to be accompanied by a translation in Urdu, a language through which the general plans to reach the masses.

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