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When Musharraf had to savour lizards...

"Eating delicacies like frogs and the local lizards is not infrequent," the General says in his book In the Line of Fire.

india Updated: Oct 12, 2006 15:09 IST

Everyone knows that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf appreciates good food, but as a commando in the Pakistan Army, Musharraf also savoured delicacies like snakes and frog legs.

Recalling his days as a member of the elite Special Services Group (SSG) in the mid-1960s, Musharraf says in his autobiography In The Line of Fire, that the training was "physically and mentally exacting" but it taught him how to survive in all kinds of situations.

Describing the SSG as the world's best commando outfits, Musharraf says, "Eating delicacies like snakes, frogs' legs and the local lizards is not infrequent. I learnt that one could eat anything except plants with white sap.

Ever since then, I have not been finicky about food. I can eat anything, though I do appreciate good food. You learn to really appreciate food and water when you are hungry and thirsty for a long time. Then, you thank God for anything that he provides."

Musharraf says that the SSG training in his time included physical exercise for an hour every day.

This included a two-mile run, a four mile run with a weapon in forty minutes once a week, a twelve-mile run with a weapon in two hours and a 36 mile run with a 30-pound pack and a weapon in ten hours.

Tactical exercises comprising of route marches for hundreds of miles, watermanship, parachute training also formed part of the drill, and he says he came up trumps in all of them.

"I ended the course among the top three, getting the highest grade. The course gave me confidence in my physical and mental abilities.

It taught me that enduring extreme hardship has more to do with mental resilience than physical stamina," says Musharraf, adding that he served with the SSG twice -- once for four-and-half-years and the second time for two-and-half-years.

"When I look back on my service with the SSG, I feel that my self-confidence and my qualities as a soldier and a leader were all honed there.

The SSG provided me with ample opportunities to develop initiative and drive because it encouraged so much independence of training and operation," said Musharraf.

First Published: Oct 12, 2006 15:05 IST