Shaukat Aziz clearly remembers the phone call that changed his life. It was 1999 and Aziz was working at a senior position in Citibank, New York. “One day, I was in a meeting in the conference room when my secretary came in with a slip [note],” he tells Weekend Review. “There was call from Rawalpindi — she couldn’t even pronounce it — and she asked if I could take the call.” Perplexed, Aziz did.

On the other end of the line was General Pervez Musharraf, who had orchestrated a military coup and overthrown the democratically elected government of Nawaz Sharif only a few days earlier. “He [Musharraf] said the economy is in serious trouble … You and I have never met … and I also understand you have never met any of my core command. I said, ‘No, sitting in New York I have no opportunity or reason to meet anybody’. He said my name had been given to him as a potential candidate for some position in the government. I told him I had never applied [for any post]. He said, ‘We have our own sources to find out where the good people are’.”

And so Aziz flew to Pakistan to meet Musharraf. “This was the first time I had stepped into the GHQ [General Headquarters of the Pakistan Army]. I was impressed by Musharraf’s candour and his desire to do something. I think I spent 45 minutes with him, and then a couple of hours with the rest of his team. Then he met me at his residence … he told me that they were looking at other candidates, too, and would let me know.”

Aziz then returned to New York. “A few weeks later, there was a call from General Aziz [Khan]. He offered me the position of minister of finance and commerce. I told him that the two are different, and with the economy in dire straits, finance itself would require full-time attention. I requested them to give this to somebody else, which they did, several weeks later.”

 The rest was political history. After serving as finance minister for the next few years, Aziz went on to become Pakistan’s Prime Minister in 2004.