Musharraf on CNN-Not ruling out PresidencyMay 16, 2009
Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, speaking on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” said he wishes the current government well and that he “would be the happiest person” if the nation deals well with threats such as the growing political and martial strength of the Taliban.
“But one is concerned about Pakistan, certainly,” he said on the program, which is scheduled to air Sunday. “One does get concerned about where are we headed and what are we doing. Musharraf, once Pakistan’s army chief, resigned under intense political pressure in August.
He had swept to power in 1999 in a bloodless coup, removing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and appointing himself president in 2001, while remaining the head of the military.Considered an ally by the United States in the fight against Islamic extremists in the region, he was criticized for impeding democratic elections in 2008 — including delaying the elections, suspending the country’s constitution, restricting the media and having political protesters arrested.
Ultimately, his political party — Muslim League-Q — finished third in the voting and he stepped down only after the ruling coalition announced it would seek to impeach him.
But now, President Asif Ali Zardari has public approval ratings around 19 percent. When asked by Zakaria if Zardari has the public backing needed to fight the Taliban, Musharraf suggested he does not.
He noted that Zardari, the widower of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was elected by two-thirds of Pakistan’s parliament.”Democratically, he’s elected by two-thirds. And these are the people who are the representatives of the same people you’re talking of — 19 percent in favor … ,” he said.
“So, there’s a dichotomy. You can analyze it yourself.”Some 1.5 million people have been displaced by 10 months of fighting between the Pakistani military and the Taliban along the country’s border with Afghanistan, the chief minister of North West Frontier Province estimated Thursday.
With a government offensive against the Taliban nearly three weeks old, a spokesman for Pakistan’s army insisted that the military intends to drive the Taliban out of the contested area. Musharraf said deals with the Taliban several years ago that allowed the group some power were a mistake because “it was not from a position of strength” by Pakistan
But, if the military is able to take the upper hand, more deals may be needed to calm fighting by the fundamentalist group. Any deal, Musharraf said, would require that the Taliban in Pakistan not support Al Qaeda and not go into Afghanistan to fight against U.S. and coalition troops.
“I think the line of going for political deals, political compromises, is correct,” he said. “We must do it — even if we are doubtful of some of the people involved in the signing.”
Musharraf said the laws under which he stepped down would allow him to run for office in Pakistan in six months — although he doesn’t intend to do so.”We’re not running for office in six months,” he said.
“I’m on lecture circuits. I’m enjoying this professional activity of giving lectures, which I could never imagine, as a military man, that I’d be doing.”
Then, if Muslim League-Q asked him to run as their presidential candidate? “They haven’t asked me yet,” he said. “Let them ask me first and then I’ll reply.”