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Musharraf made a time bomb in college!

Young Musharraf and his friends had left a time cracker in a steel trash bin outside the house of their warden.

india Updated: Sep 27, 2006 18:13 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf learnt the art of making a time bomb when he was in college and got rapped by his warden when he pulled a prank to scare him.

"It was in Forman Christian College (in Lahore) that I learned how to make a time bomb, which I later used as a commando to good effect," Musharraf writes in his book In The Line Of Fire.

He candidly admits that in today's age of terror, this is hardly a thing to own up to "but those were relatively innocent times, and the only kind of home-made bomb then known was the Molotov cocktail".

Musharraf says he soon learnt that the fuse of a normal firecracker attached to a filterless cigarette could become a timed fuse, depending on the length of the cigarette.

It was time to experiment. Musharraf and three others left a time cracker in a big steel trash bin outside the house of their warden, Datta.

There was a "deafening bang" and everyone started running towards the warden's house, recalls Musharraf in his 335-page book.

Two other "bombs" placed outside the assistant warden's house and inside a mail box also exploded, creating "utter confusion".

Hameed, one of the quartet, was threatened by Datta to spill the beans or face expulsion. When this was conveyed to him, Musharraf told Hameed to speak the truth. Hameed then disclosed that Musharraf was the culprit.

Recounting the incident, Musharraf says Datta called him to his home and asked, "Pervez, you are the block monitor, and you did this?"

The Pakistan President said he then felt very ashamed. "Never do this again," Datta told him. "That is when I learned the power of truth, a lesson that has never left me."

Musharraf also gave glimpses of other adventures he had during his student days.

Hostel gates would shut by eight in the evening and no student was allowed to go out and visitors were not allowed to enter.

There was a mango tree next to a hedge at the hostel's periphery. "Thanks to my gymnastics, I could climb the tree and jump over and across the high hedge. So would some of my friends."

They would go for a movie that ran from nine pm to midnight, usually at the Regal cinema, and return to college on foot because tonga-drivers refused to go that far at night.

Just outside the college gate, Musharraf says, there was a mosque and no one could stop them from sleeping there. "Early in the morning, when the college gates opened, we would sneak in."

Rated a top gymnast, Musharraf says he also won the college body-building competition and took part in cross- country running.

His first brush with death, Musharraf says, happened at FC College, thanks to a mango tree. Prompted by friends, he climbed the tree. Hanging upside down from a branch, he plucked mangoes with his feet.

The branch snapped, he came crashing down and passed out. "My friends thought I was dead," Musharraf says, adding he was young and strong and soon recovered.

First Published: Sep 27, 2006 18:13 IST