Pervez Musharraf, the 66-year-old retired general and former president of Pakistan who was pressured to resign in 2008, likes the ambience of the Water Works restaurant. He’s also a fan of Savona in Gulph Mills. Though the general really appreciates the cuisine—and “mood factor,” as he calls it—of Alma de Cuba. Musharraf sampled local fare during a leisurely 11 days in September and October with his buddy Raza Bokhari, a Villanova doctor turned businessman.
Bokhari met Musharraf in 2001, at a Pakistani embassy event in NYC. “I told my wife I was going to get to know him,” Bokhari recalls, “and she said, ‘How are you going to do that?’” Bokhari, who developed and sold two cancer diagnostic companies and is now raising money for economic development in Pakistan, got involved with the U.N.’s Millennium Development, which put him into small meetings with then-President Musharraf. A friendship bloomed.
When Musharraf came to the U.S. for a 43-day, 25-city lecture tour, he stayed at Bokhari’s home on Spring Mill Road before and after the tour; Bokhari hosted a dinner that included radio host Michael Smerconish and basketball coaches Jay Wright and Fran Dunphy. Conversation with the general floated from the problems of terrorism to the bloated serving sizes in American restaurants to movies—Musharraf likes Westerns. One night, Villanova police showed up: “I think,” Bokhari says, “the music was a little loud.”
During Musharraf’s stay, he and his host also got in some golf at Radnor Valley Country Club. The general, who plans to spend more time in Villanova in March before another lecture tour, plays to a 17 handicap.