Musharraf blames USA for Trust DeficitApril 27, 2009
April 24, 2009: FORMER Pakistani President, Pervez Musharraf, blames the United States for what he believes is a ‘trust deficit’ between the two countries.
He says that President Obama has not helped change the US attitude towards Pakistan and that there are very few differences between President Obama and his predecessor. He has also called for Pakistan to take control of the US drones and argued that the Swat Valley must remain in the Pakistani legal system.
Speaking exclusively to Sir David Frost for “Frost Over The World” on Al Jazeera English, he was asked if there was a healthy relationship between Pakistan and the US. “No,” he replied.
“There is, unfortunately, a trust deficit … the worst part of the whole situation is there’s a trust deficit in the United States against the ISI; and in many quarters against the army… These are the two institutions which are the guarantors of stability of Pakistan… Now if you are to fight terrorism and extremism, and these two institutions are to be mistrusted, who in Pakistan is going to fight terrorism and extremism?”
When asked if he thought things had changed for the better under President Obama, he said: “I don’t see any change really. I mean, what are the changes as far as terrorism and extremism is concerned, and as far as our region and Afghanistan is concerned? There is no change. Force is required. He has taken the decision to send more force. So what was happening in the past? There was force requirement and he is following exactly the same strategy.”
Former President Musharraf’s comments came as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned Pakistan for allowing extremists to control the Swat Valley in north-western Pakistan, resulting in a “mortal threat” to world security.
When asked by Sir David Frost whether he agreed with the current Pakistani government conceding to the Taliban in allowing Sharia law in the Swat Valley, Musharraf said: “Any compromise on a position of strength when you are dealing with them is the wrong way. We must deal politically, but from a position of strength… If it is outside that legal structure you cannot have a challenge to the writ of the Government… Speedy, cheap justice must be ensured within the legal ambit of Pakistan, and the constitution of Pakistan. Denying the constitution of Pakistan, and bringing laws which are different from Pakistan, must not be allowed. “
He also claimed that the Taliban was a greater threat than Al Qaeda, saying: “They get their strength from the population. Al Qaeda doesn’t get strength from the population.”
Musharraf also called for the US drones that patrol Pakistan to be brought under the control of the Pakistani government, arguing that Pakistan does not have the technology available to fight terrorism.
“We cannot allow any foreign force to attack on our side of the border. We must use our own forces. And whatever resources are lacking, Pakistan must be given those resources. What these drones see are obviously much more than we have through human intelligence. We bank on human intelligence, and also some technical intelligence.”
The former President did not dismiss the possibility of returning to power, saying: “Pakistan comes first. I hope and pray that the government that handles Pakistan does well for Pakistan. Progress and development of the state, the welfare and wellbeing of its people.
“If they can ensure this, I’ll be the happiest man. But if this is not ensured, and Pakistan is on a nosedive or a self-destruct mechanism is on… then if I can contribute something to rectify the situation, certainly I will. My life is for the country; for Pakistan.”
Musharraf also spoke of two secret meetings he had held with Benazir Bhutto in Abu Dhabi, in which he claims he warned her twice not to return to Pakistan for fear of assassination.
“She was not supposed to return before the elections… And I told her personally that there were threats. Very, very important threats… She ignored all that… And unfortunately they made a lot of hue and cry against me that I was not allowing her political activity. But it was simply a threat to her life! The next time then she ignored all that. I said, ‘Okay, if she wants to go, let her go! She’s not understanding.’ And then you know what happened.”