Pakistan's Musharraf: Lucrative Speaking Fees?

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who resigned from office this past Monday, rather than face a divisive impeachment trial in parliament, may be out of power. But he is not out of the money. When the 65-year-old former army chief finally leaves his British colonial-style residence inside Rawalpindi's military garrison for an expected pilgrimage to Mecca in the next few days, he may continue traveling on a lucrative speaking tour through the Middle East, Europe and the U.S. Chicago-based Embark LLC is just one of the international public-relations firms trying to land Musharraf as a highly paid keynote speaker. Public-relations executives say the articulate and brash 44-year army veteran's earning power could approach that of former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who famously snubbed him during a lightning visit to Islamabad eight years ago.

"The [speaking] fee for Musharraf would be in the $150,000-200,000 range for a day," says Embark President David B. Wheeler, "plus jet and other V.I.P. arrangements on the ground." Wheeler says Clinton, for whom Embark has arranged speaking engagements in the Middle East, commands up to $250,000 per appearance. "If we did multiple events in multiple cities, [Musharraf] could get closer to the $500,000 to $1,000,000 range [for a series of talks]," he said. Embark, which promises "unique experiences that educate, entertain and enlighten," has also booked speeches for former U.S. President George H.W. Bush and former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Pakistanis who know Musharraf well say this is good news for the former president, who is not believed to have salted away a fortune as some of his predecessors have done (Musharraf will only receive a modest army retirement pension). But he is a long way from the poor house. Workers are putting the finishing touches on a mansion, said to be worth some $2 million dollars, that he is building on five acres of prime land just outside Islamabad. Since his resignation he has been playing golf and tennis with friends, surrounded by heavy security, and is also planning to write a sequel to his successful 2006 autobiography, "In the Line of Fire," which could easily net him another seven-figure windfall.