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Pervez Musharraf: From Pakistan army chief to president and now a TV star

Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf’s show Sab Se Pehlay Pakistan follows a question-and-answer format, and the first episode has already created a buzz in Pakistani media circles.

world Updated: Feb 27, 2017 20:55 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
BOL TV,Pakistan Army,Pervez Musharraf
BOL TV executive Amir Zia said he expects Musharraf to make “startling disclosures” soon.(Reuters File)

Pervez Musharraf has gone from being president to television show host, drawing uncharitable comparisons to Donald Trump who went from hosting a reality show to occupying the position of the most powerful man in the world.

The 73-year-old former military ruler, who has lived in Dubai since he was allowed by a court to leave Pakistan in March last year, has his own television programme, Sab Se Pehlay Pakistan, the first episode of which aired on the controversial channel BOL TV on Sunday.

The show follows the format of a question-and-answer session, with the interviewer sitting in Karachi and Musharraf answering from Dubai. “Musharraf is known to speak his mind and we expect startling disclosures in the coming days,” said BOL TV executive Amir Zia.

The first episode created a buzz in Pakistani media circles, but many people who saw it complained about the format and the choice of questions put to Musharraf. The name of a show is derived from Musharraf’s slogan “Pakistan first”.

Media analysts said they expect the show to pick up in the coming weeks.

Read| Video of Musharraf dancing becomes butt of jokes in Pakistan

Musharraf became the fourth public figure to have a programme on BOL TV. He joins Tahir-ul-Qadri, the controversial Canada-based cleric who heads the Pakistan Awami Tehreek, the party that spearheaded dharnas against the Nawaz Sharif government on multiple occasions, Senator Shafqat Mehmood, who heads the information wing of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party, and Qamar Zaman Kaira, the former information minister in the Pakistan People’s Party government.

BOL TV’s programming has centred its attacks on Sharif’s government and on media houses considered close to the ruling PML-N party, primarily Geo News, which is the country’s most popular news channel.

BOL TV has had some of its programmes taken off air after their hosts incited violence and indulged in hate speech. There is also widespread speculation that BOL TV is funded by the Pakistan Army, but it has thus far been unable to match the ratings of its competitors.

However, programmes like the one hosted of Musharraf could soon change that.

“Musharraf’s entry suggests that the army’s public relations wing is doing its best to improve TV ratings for BOL so that it can be taken more seriously,” said journalist Abid Husayn.

But the army has rejected suggestions that it is promoting BOL TV in any way.

Musharraf, who is facing a raft of cases in Pakistani courts related to the killing of former premier Benazir Bhutto and Baloch leader Akbar Bugti and the imposition of emergency rule in 2007, left Pakistan for Dubai last year to seek medical treatment after a court lifted a foreign travel ban on him. At the time, it was widely speculated that the army had brokered a deal to allow him to leave Pakistan.

First Published: Feb 27, 2017 17:04 IST