Transcript of Pervez Musharraf’s talk at a media event in DelhiMarch 9, 2009
Arun Poorie: You are here as a messenger of peace. What did you do about it in the nine years when you were in power?
Musharraf: Let’s stop the blame game. We need to look at the reality, forget the past and look ahead. I don’t know what I did wrong, but I can tell you I tried my best for peace between India and Pakistan. I was never negative when the opportunity for peace came to me.
Arun Poorie: What plans do you have about the future?
Musharraf: To me, the core issue is building confidence by greater people-to-people affinity. Once the confidence is there, we should move towards resolving the core issues, and stop meddling with the internal affairs of each other’s country.
Arun Poorie: What do you have to say about what happened on 26/11 in Mumbai?
Musharraf: Let’s stop the war hysteria. Just a day into the investigations, the Pakistani army and the ISI was blamed for it. I am for a considered and matured response to these issues. As far as the investigations are concerned, the Pakistani government should fully cooperate and the guilty should be punished.
Arun Poorie: Are there any terrorist camps in Pakistan?
Musharraf: See we have done damage to each other. I am aware of what the Indian embassy is doing in Jalalabad and Kandahar. A terrorist from Kabul has been received by Indian intelligence agencies in India and looked after. I have documents to show this. Let us stop the blame game. India is a big country. You try to do damage to us, we will do damage to you. We should address the trust deficit between the two countries. The ISI does the same thing as the RAW does. There is no distinction.
Ravi Shankar Prasad: In the face of the present situation, do you see Taliban taking over Pakistan?
Musharraf: Areas in the North West Frontier [Province] where the problem is, account for less then one percent of the population. There is no danger of Taliban taking over Pakistan politically.
Arun Poorie: What specific confidence-building measures do you have for the future?
Musharraf: We need to look at strategic issues. We will have to address the water issue which would develop into a new conflict between the nations. We have to stick to the Indus Valley treaty.
Soli Sorabjee: Will you hand over Dawood Ibrahim to us as a confidence building measure?
Musharraf: This is a small issue. I do not know if he is there. I too have a long list of people that India needs to give us. The role of Indian embassy in Afghanistan in Jalalabad and Kandahar is not good either.
Individuals are a small issue. We need to look at strategic issues. I do not think handing over Dawood will change anything. I know it will not help in easing tensions between the two nations, if that happens then you will have to hand over Dawood back to Pakistan (laughs).
Rahul Kanwal: A conversation of Gen Kayani, the army chief who succeeded you, has been intercepted where he said Taliban is a ‘strategic asset’?
Musharraf: This is a lie. He cannot say that. I challenge them to show me the proof. It is a lie.
Amar Singh: When our (then) PM Vajpayee travelled to Lahore by bus to Lahore for friendship, Kargil happened. Now you say you are for peace?
Musharraf: I would not like to comment on this issue. I have dealt with this matter in my book.
Shekhar Gupta: Compare your years in power with that of Ziaul Haq.
Musharraf: The comparison cannot be done as the situation and ground realities were very different in both times. You must understand that Pakistan is not the perpetuator of terror but a victim of terror in the last 30 years.
Question: How is it to live in Pakistan and not be in charge?
Musharraf: It’s good. I am relaxed. The most difficult job was to take decisions in highly complex situations. Now I read about them in the papers.
General VP Malik: What are the chances of the army taking over Pakistan again? How can India help Pakistan in its problems?
Musharraf: It is the internal matter of Pakistan. The political leadership can deal with the situation. I would not like to comment on that. India can help Pakistan by not maligning Pakistani army and the ISI in the world.