The Day Nawaz Sharif's Plans Backfired: An Excerpt from Fatima Bhutto's 'Democracy'

19 February 2015
Courtesy Penguin Books India
Courtesy Penguin Books India

In 1999, Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff, General Pervez Musharraf, staged a coup to overthrow Nawaz Sharif. The two leaders had their differences, which intensified after the Kargil War. In this excerpt from Fatima Bhutto's fictional retelling, Democracy, loosely based on the unravelling coup, Sharif rallies his troops to prevent Musharraf, who was returning from a trip to Sri Lanka, from landing in Karachi, thus setting in motion the chain of events over the next seventeen hours that led to his dismissal.

The olive Hilux raced out of the Sind Club. Jamshed flew over the speed bumps, tore through what remained of the pansies and shouted at the wilting guard to open the gates. In the front seat Brigadier Azad struggled with his trousers.

“Who made the call?”

The Chief of Army Staff was out of town; he had gone to a small island nation to engage in joint exercises.

“We’re dropping the bloody COAS?”

Fatima Bhutto is a Contributing Editor at The Caravan. She lives in Karachi. Her last book, published by Penguin in November 2013, was The Shadow of the Crescent Moon.

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