Najma and Mike Ghouse with President Musharraf
We always learn memorable things from a few people, and that learning helps us for a lifetime. It was a post-9/11 conference set up by the Press Club in Washington, DC. President Musharraf was the speaker, and Najma and I went there to listen to him. He was the man of the hour, and I learned a life lesson from him.
The place was jam-packed, and President Musharraf was in high demand. The press conference was over, and he was dashing out of the hall. I wanted to talk to him about his replacement plans and Cricket diplomacy. I was President of the Noth Texas Cricket Association then.
There was no chance to meet him, but one of my Indian friends said, place yourselves in front of him. She was correct; as he was walking out, his bodyguard was paving the way for him to walk through the crowd. I jumped in front of him and said, Sir, I want just three minutes of your time to hear your replacement plans and to resume Cricket with India. Maleeha Lodhi was shouting that they didn’t have the time. I stood in his way firmly, then he said, ok, I will give your three minutes and no more.
I asked Sir, should something happen to you, do you have a person to replace you with the same vision? He said he had a plan but did not want to share, I pushed, but he did not. Maleeha interrupted several times that they had to go to the White House. He turned toward her and said, do not interrupt me, I had given this man 3 minutes, and now I will give seven minutes. About Circket, he said it is between the Cricket boards of India and Pakistan. He put the responsibility on the Indian Cricket Board. We had four additional minutes with him. He liked that Najma was a Pakistani American and I was an Indian American. He listened to her intently about her volunteerism for both communities and amazingly repeated almost every word she said in affirmation. What a great listener he was!
One of the biggest lessons I learned from President Musharraf was how to listen. Hundreds of journalists were in the hall, but the 7 minutes he gave were seven minutes of listening and talking. In those precious moments, the world did not exist for him but for Najma and me. I am doing my best to be a good listener, which is helping me consult with couples looking to get married, Nikah, or Interfaith Marriages. The President was a good listener. Think about how much time we waste “hearing” the other person but not listening. It is efficient to be a good listener. Inna Lillahi O inna Ilahi ur Rajeeoon.
Please note – Even though I learned a life lesson from President Mushraffa for which I am grateful, I did not like him – Had he not usurped the power and attacked India in Siachen, BJP would not have gained strength, with every one of the 1. 2 billion Indians rallied behind the Indian Government. Modi would not have come to power, and the calls for genocide of Muslims and Christians would not have been allowed. Most Indians are good people, and a small segment is wreaking havoc. India is going down the tube in social cohesion. I pray Bharat Jodo Yatra will awaken fellow Indians to shed hatred and start caring for each other and accepting each other as Indian and nothing less.
Mike Ghouse is a social scientist, speaker, newsmaker, and Wedding Officiant.
More about him at www.TheGhouseDiary.com