It was on that tour that Musharraf won a special

My crush on Musharraf

Uzma Asim, 35, is a modern Muslim woman, a vice president of operations of Anmar Associates, a garment exporter. Her office is replete with glass tables, leather sofas, just ordered in Kentucky Fried Chicken and a quiet room for women to pray, with rugs folded neatly on the floor. She sweeps before me, a burst of energy in a modest white cotton shalwar kameeze with black block print.

A mane of curly, raven black hair descends upon her shoulders, a thin line of kajal flutters upon her upper eyelid and her eyes sparkle when she talks about her president, Gen. Fine works by Pakistani artists hang on the walls and a Louis Vuitton bag sits open at her side as she taps at her keyboard. And who stares back at us from her screensaver? Musharraf.

She salutes him, flicking her hand against her forehead. Then she stands and opens a long closet door that conceals locker like shelving. Musharraf is looking over his left shoulder, wearing a purple tie, white shirt and gray suit that falls well sculptured on his shoulders. Asim has glued this photo of the general onto the inside of the door.

“Look at him,” Asim says, punching her fist in the air. “Confident. Certain. Determined.” Her raves continue: “He’s a magnetic person.””I love him ,” she gushes. Asim doesn’t want there to be any confusion. “I’m happily married,” she says. But as the rest of the world sees many of the furious turban wearing fundamentalists burning Musharraf in effigy in the streets (they will likely be out in full force now with Musharraf out of the country, preparing to meet with President Bush and address the United Nations in New York) another part of the population feels quite differently. And for modern Muslims here who eagerly seek to embrace a global culture, Musharraf incongruously manages to be a military dictator and yet also a symbol of modernity. He breaks taboos with his pet dogs and consumption of alcohol not to mention his penchant for Armani suits and golf. strikes on the neighboring Taliban aaa replica designer handbags a government he had supported up until Sept. 11 he has made a dramatic pro West shift in his polices, most notably ditching hard line elements from the country’s powerful intelligence agency. I was relieved to find Asim, because I, too, have developed a thing for Musharraf. When we realize our shared interest, we squeeze each other’s hands like soul sisters. I knew I couldn’t be the only one who watched him on television, playing host as a parade of world leaders took turns across from him while he sank into a nicely upholstered sofa, like a high quality replica handbags china new Homecoming King. He is Muslim and a man of the world. At a time when the world sees images of crazed Muslims who not only want segregation from, but to decree violence on, nonbelievers, Musharraf is reassuring, inclusive and strong.

The photo that Asim has in her closet was shot from an unusual Designer Louis Vuitton Replica Handbags tour he took in July to India and the city of the Taj Mahal, where he and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee politically arm wrestled over the disputed territory of Kashmir. It was on that tour that Musharraf won a special place in many a heart. He proved to be aggressive politically, personally sentimental and thoroughly hypnotizing. Early in his childhood, his family left it behind and called Pakistan their new home after India won independence from the British in 1947 and its north was sliced out to create a nation for Muslims. During the trip, he reached out to the people, Clinton like, and cheap louis vuitton bags from china uk hugged a very elderly woman servant who said she remembered him as a child. He showed none of the restraint of the most conservative of Muslim men, who try to avoid touching a woman unrelated to them, no matter what the age. “He was so sympathetic to the old lady,” remembers Asim fondly.

Then replica louis vuitton handbags , when he faced off with India’s journalists, they wanted to ask him questions about anything other than Kashmir, so they cheap louis vuitton bags from china could at least get to know the man on friendlier terms. He responded that they could, but it wouldn’t make much of a friendship. He proceeded to answer each journalist’s questions so precisely, viewers back home were impressed. A critic in an Indian newspaper complained that India’s tough journalists had turned into “salivating puppies and purring kittens.” (Musharraf manages to turn up on TV quite frequently. When he does, Asim says, her husband calls her over with an eager shout: “Your boyfriend is on TV!”)

Musharraf made an impression on me in an interview last spring when he admitted that he had trouble with an expanding waistline since taking office (just like Clinton), a sweet tooth (ditto) and with security detail because he appreciates spontaneity. He said: “I think my natural self is the best. I just behave normally, what I like, I like. Whatever I don’t like, I don’t like.”He said he didn’t really like pop bands (“I find them very stupid and silly”), but admitted liking Sufi music and ghazals, poetic Muslim songs (like the ones my mother used to hum at the kitchen sink when I was growing up) and a band called Junoon. What? I first saw Junoon, a replica designer handbags Pakistani rock band inspired by Sufism, in a Central Park concert a few years back when very cute and hip teenage Pakistani American high quality replica handbags china boys from New Jersey moshed in Tommy Hilfiger shirts to the band’s Urdu chants of “Allahu, Allahu, Allahu” belief in only one Allah.

And when Musharraf made his tour through India, I had just returned from visiting India and staying in my ancestral haveli, a sweeping white palace of a home called Latif Manzil in the village of Jaigahan in Jaunpur District in Uttar Pradesh. To be in your ancestral home is to feel the pulse of ancestors who seem very much alive, if only in the clouds that pass overhead from the courtyards. Maybe it seems, in the West, typical, perhaps calculated, for him to travel to his ancestral haveli during his short diplomatic mission. But to me and others at the time, it seemed to speak wonders about his soul.

He is a Rudy Guliani figure whose fans fear will leave office at some point (no problem there as a military dictator, he could be dislodged only by a junta, although he has promised an election that many of his fans wish wouldn’t happen). While he hasn’t quite reached the sex symbol status of the shaggy haired replica louis vuitton bags prime minister of Japan, he has become a bit of a fashion icon. A retired senior army officer recalled running into him at the Islamabad Marriott before the war and admiring his Armani suit. Years ago, Musharraf, his wife and two children used to visit his very progressive mother, who lived in the upper middle class neighborhood of F 7/1 in Islamabad fake designer bags , and was known to neighborhood children as mother dado, (a play off dadi, grandmother), who played traditional Indian subcontinent music with harmoniums and tabla instruments while Musharraf’s daughter bicycled around the neighborhood free as a kite. By cheap replica handbags listening to music, and caring for a pet dog inside her house, she openly violated taboos on two things that the strictest of Muslims abhor: music and dogs.

The dog issue, in fact, seems to hound Musharraf. In India, a columnist refers to Musharraf as “a dog loving nattily uniformed general.” Musharraf boldly posed holding his two dogs for his photo op after taking over the country. Go figure. The man knew that many Muslims go running when a dog starts approaching them, even with its tail wagging, especially with its slobbery pink tongue hanging out of its mouth. We have to do something called wuzu, a ritual washing, before doing namaz. We’re taught that touching a dog makes you dirty for namaz, so that you shouldn’t keep a dog in the house. Others interpret what is said in the Quran more liberally, though. My mother was trained early as a Muslim girl to distrust dogs (she claims because they were wild in India). She refused to get near Pluto, backing away from the reach of his chain when he would scamper toward us when he visited for dinners with Majumdar Aunty and Majumdar Uncle. Then there was Nikita, a beautiful Samoyed with soft white fur that moved in across the street, leaping whenever he could on Denise Pickle and me, both of us thrilled by his eager soft self. But my Athar Chacha, my father’s brother, here 1:1 replica handbags in Karachi goes running even when a little dachshund approaches him. Among Muslims here, that’s quite common.

Not surprisingly, Musharraf’s dog antics don’t play well with many people. But they do play well with moderate Pakistanis. One liberal woman repeated with glee seeing Musharraf allowing one of his furry companions seats at the breakfast table. They’re tired of the hypocrisy in a nation where people hide behind a veil of piety. Many Pakistanis have gotten only false promises from political leaders who somehow manage to build their wealth and bank accounts.

This is the history as they tell it: Musharraf joined the Pakistan fake designer bags Military Academy in 1961 and was commissioned in an elite artillery regiment in 1964 while Ayub Khan was in power. The Pakistani armed forces were modeled after the British military, and Pakistani military culture had with the same values of dancing, drinking and dating found in its Western counterpart.

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