Archive for August, 2011

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People must rise to end status quo: Musharraf

August 31, 2011

DUBAI — The next general election in Pakistan in 2013 will be of “make or break, do or die” nature in which people have to rise to bring in the right leadership to run the country, former president Gen. (retd) Pervez Musharraf said here on Saturday night.

“If we fail to do so and stay in the same groove, the conditions in the country will deteriorate further and our identity will be lost,” said Musharraf, Quaid (leader) of his newly registered political party, All Pakistan Muslim League.

“We have to break the political status quo of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) under whose rule the people and the state have suffered. There was a need for a third political force to emerge. So, I have formed APML to bring a new political party into play that is made of likeminded and honestly working people,” Musharraf said.

He was speaking at an iftar dinner, hosted by the APML-UAE for the members of the Pakistan Journalists Forum (a wing of Pakistan Association Dubai). Maj-Gen. (retd) Rashid Qureshi, Vice-President, and Barrister Mohammed Ali Saif, Secretary General of the party were also present.

He said that the media has to play an important role in breaking the status quo through correct and honest projection. He appreciated that the APML celebration of Pakistan Independence Day in Dubai was well covered in the UAE by Khaleej Times and some other newspapers, but regretted that the event was not covered by media in Pakistan.

Musharraf said that he expected an interim government to be formed in Pakistan in the next eight to nine months. The international community will want it to be a fair and a neutral government. The judiciary will also play its role. “Then fair elections will be held which, I am sure, will bring change,” he said.

He said that Pakistan’s government administration has broken down, even among coalition partners, leading to political and economic turmoil.

Musharraf said that the law and order situation in Karachi is of ethnic nature which can be controlled in 15 to 20 days if the government has the will to do so and arrests all those behind it.

“Today, we have a democratically elected government in Pakistan, but its leadership is not able to deliver to the people and develop Pakistan. We have to change it in the coming elections,” he said.

Musharraf said that he would not indulge in politics of vendetta on his return to Pakistan on March 23, 2012.

“The plan for my return will be ready by November. There are many electable people in Pakistan and I can’t claim that my party will win. Our efforts will catch momentum after my return. This is a try and one should not be scared of trying because a thousand miles journey starts with one step. If we do not succeed we will try again,” Musharraf said.

Source: Khaleej Times

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Musharraf backs plan for more provinces

August 31, 2011

(By Ashfaq Ahmed, Deputy UAE Editor)

Dubai: Former president of Pakistan General (retd) Pervez Musharraf has supported the plan to have more provinces in Pakistan in a bid to have better administrative control.

“Yes, I believe more provinces should be created all over the country as it will help better administrative control, reduce feelings of deprivation in different groups and improve the law and order situation in the country,” said Musharraf while addressing an iftar dinner he hosted for Pakistan Journalists Forum (PJF) in the UAE.

The Pakistani government led by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has been striving to divide Punjab into two province by creating a separate province in South Punjab but the Pakistan Muslim League led by Nawaz Sharif has strongly opposed the move.

However, Musharraf said that more provinces should be created not just in Punjab but all over the country, including Balochistan, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa.

“Decentralisation of power is important to give immediate relief and justice to people at the grassroots level,” he said.

Senior leaders present

Musharraf’s interaction with PJF members lasted for about two hours during which he explained his motives behind joining politics and launching his own political party — All Pakistan Muslim League (APML). Also present were his senior party leaders including General (retd) Rashid Quraishi, Barrister Mohammad Saif, Dr Amjad, Brigadier (retd) Harris, Col (retd) Sher Ali, Khurrum Haris, Akbar Ali Shah, Farzana Mansour and Zil-e-Huma.

Musharraf reiterated that he would go back to Pakistan on March 23 next year after his party organisation is completed.

“APML will emerge as a third political force and alternative to the current political parties because the people of Pakistan want change,” he said.

He said that he would take his chances in a bid to make a comeback to power to save Pakistan.

Dysfunctional

He said the current government in Pakistan had become completely dysfunctional while the administration structure had broken down and the country was facing political turmoil in addition to the law and order situation.

“I believe the Karachi issue is more of an ethnic problem but there is some ‘external hand’ involved in creating the unrest in a bid to destabilise the largest city of Pakistan,” he said, adding that the Karachi situation should be brought under control.

“If the rangers fail, the army should intervene to ensure peace and safety of lives and property of people,” he said when asked whether the army should take control of the city.

Evasive on court action

Former President of Pakistan General (retd) Pervez Musharraf has refused to comment on a court decision declaring him absconder in former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s assassination case.

“I don’t have to answer these questions as my legal team is handling them,” he said when asked to comment by a journalist at an iftar dinner he hosted on Saturday in Dubai. However, he was surprised at the seizure of a bank account worth Rs80 million.

“If it is mine, then please give it in charity,” he laughed. An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Saturday ordered seizure of Musharraf`s property and freezing of his bank accounts while declaring him absconder in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case.

Source: Gulf News

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LAL MASJID – SHIFTING TRUTH FROM LIES

August 26, 2011

(By Pervez Musharraf – former President of Pakistan)

The Lal Masjid operation is a case study of how an appropriately timed, meticulously planned and boldly executed operation launched in the supreme national interest can be distorted by vested interests who want to present it as a disaster. I would like to elaborate/clarify various issues which have been distorted. “Hundreds of innocent people were killed which included scores of women and children.” This is an absolute lie. Firstly none of those killed were innocent. They were terrorists (including five foreigners) who took the law in their own hands and killed a number of policemen, kidnapped and physically tortured Chinese citizens (causing embarrassment to the government) and burnt down Ministry of Environment offices, property and vehicles.

They had stored arms and explosives in the mosque and were equipped/prepared for suicide bombings. Secondly the numbers killed were NINETY FOUR and not a single woman or child was killed. This can be ascertained by digging their graves and counting. “The operation was launched overriding efforts to end the occupation peacefully.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. The siege of Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa was started about six months before the operation. There were about two thousand five hundred girls in Jamia Hafsa and an equal number of men who had taken over Lal Masjid. Despite all the pressure on the government in the media to act and evict the occupants who were challenging the writ of the government and causing immense embarrassment, the decision taken was to negotiate a peaceful settlement to avoid casualties. In the months that followed, representatives from Wafaqul Madaris and the Council of Islamic Ideology were sent to negotiate, Maulana Edhis’ wife was sent to pacify the girls and even Imam Kaaba was gracious enough to contribute towards an amicable end to the confrontation.

Besides this, a number of politicians and notables also tried their best to resolve the issue. All this was to no avail. The primary concern before launching the operation was how to avoid casualties. The operation was launched only after all efforts towards a negotiated settlement failed and maximum occupants including all women and children were drawn out. The individuals left were all hardened terrorists including five foreigners who refused to surrender and decided to fight it out.

We as Pakistanis must realise that we cannot be known internationally as a “Soft State” or a “Banana Republic” where there is no writ of the government. The government has to be strong enough to meet any challenge to its authority. Then only can we emerge as a stable, strong, respectable country in the comity of nations. We also have to make sure that religion is not misused to challenge the state and spread extremism in the society. Lal Masjid operation stands as a tribute to the gallantry of all the soldiers, especially of SSG, rangers and policemen who participated in the operation. May all the Shaheeds rest in peace, Ameen.

[Click here to watch the media confession of Umm-e-Hassan – Principal Jamia Hafsa in regards to the presence of suicide bombers.]

Source: APML online

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9/11 – Could we have decided otherwise?

August 24, 2011

By Pervez Musharraf – former President of Pakistan

Pakistan’s decision to join the US and the Coalition in Afghanistan in their attack on the Taliban remains a subject of intense debate. This is the decision we took after a thorough, deliberate and realistic appraisal of the obtaining geo-strategic realities, but it has drawn criticism and praise alike. With the latest upsurge in terrorist activity in Pakistan, the debate on the post-9/11 response of Pakistan has intensified. I, therefore, thought it my duty to lay bare facts in front of the people of Pakistan, so that with all the necessary information they could judge the situation more accurately. The decision of my government was indeed based on, and in conformity with, my slogan of ‘Pakistan First’.
Some people suggested that we should oppose the United States and favour the Taliban. Was this, in any way, beneficial for Pakistan? Certainly not! Even if the Taliban and Al-Qaeda emerged victorious, it would not be in Pakistan’s interest to embrace obscurantist Talibanisation. That would have meant a society where women had no rights, minorities lived in fear and semi-literate clerics set themselves up as custodians of justice. I could have never accepted this kind of society for Pakistan. In any case, judging by military realities one was sure that the Taliban would be defeated. It would have been even more detrimental for Pakistan to be standing on the defeated side.
The United States, the sole superpower, was wounded and humiliated by the 9/11 Al-Qaeda terrorist attack. A strong retaliatory response against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan was imminent.

I was angrily told, by the US, that Pakistan had to be ‘either with us or against us’. The message was also conveyed to me that ‘if Pakistan was against the United States then it should be prepared to be bombed back to the Stone Age.’

This was the environment within which we had to take a critical decision for Pakistan. My sole focus was to make a decision that would benefit Pakistan in the long run, and also guard it against negative effects.

What options did the US have to attack Afghanistan? Not possible from the north, through Russia and the Central Asian Republics. Not from the west, through Iran. The only viable direction was from the east, through Pakistan. If we did not agree, India was ever ready to afford all support. A US-India collusion would obviously have to trample Pakistan to reach Afghanistan. Our airspace and land would have been violated. Should we then have pitched our forces, especially Pakistan Air Force, against the combined might of the US and Indian forces? India would have been delighted with such a response from us. This would surely have been a foolhardy, rash and most unwise decision. Our strategic interests – our nuclear capability and the Kashmir cause – would both have been irreparably compromised. We might even have put our very territorial integrity at stake.

The economic dimension of confronting the United States and the West also needed serious analysis. Pakistan’s major export and investment is to and from the United States and the European Union. Our textiles, which form 60 percent of our export and earnings, go to the West. Any sanctions on these would have crippled our industry and choked our economy. Workers would lose their jobs. The poor masses of Pakistan would have been the greatest sufferers.

China, our great friend, also has serious apprehensions about Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The upsurge of religious extremism emboldening the East Turkistan Islamic Movement in China is due to events in Afghanistan and the tribal agencies of Pakistan. China would certainly not be too happy with Pakistan on the side of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Even the Islamic Ummah had no sympathy for the Taliban regime; countries like Turkey and Iran were certainly against the Taliban. The UAE and Saudi Arabia – the only two countries other than Pakistan that had recognised the Taliban regime – had become so disenchanted with the Taliban that they had closed their missions in Kabul.

Here, I would also like to clear the notion that we accepted all the demands put forward by USA.

On September 13th 2001, the US Ambassador to Pakistan, Wendy Chamberlain, brought me a set of seven demands. These demands had also been communicated to our Foreign Office by the US State Department.

1. Stop Al-Qaeda operatives at your borders, intercept arms shipments through Pakistan, and end all logistical support for bin Laden.
2. Provide the United States with blanket overflight and landing rights to conduct all necessary military and intelligence operations.
3. Provide territorial access to the United States and allied military intelligence as needed, and other personnel to conduct all necessary operations against the perpetrators of terrorism and those that harbour them, including the use of Pakistan’s naval ports, air bases, and strategic locations on borders.
4. Provide the United States immediately with intelligence, immigration information and databases, and internal security information, to help prevent and respond to terrorist acts perpetrated against the United States, its friends, or its allies.
5. Continue to publicly condemn the terrorist acts of September 11 and any other terrorist acts against the United States or its friends and allies, and curb all domestic expressions of support [for terrorism] against the United States, its friends, or its allies.
6. Cut off all shipments of fuel to the Taliban and any other items and recruits, including volunteers, en route to Afghanistan, who can be used in a military offensive capacity or to abet a terrorist threat.
7.Should the evidence strongly implicate Osama bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan and should Afghanistan and the Taliban continue to harbour him and his network, Pakistan will break diplomatic relations with the Taliban government, end support for the Taliban, and assist the United States in the afore-mentioned ways to destroy Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network.Some of these demands were ludicrous, such as “curb all domestic expressions of support [for terrorism] against the United States, its friends, and its allies.” How could my government suppress public debate, when I had been trying to encourage freedom of expression?

I also thought that asking us to break off diplomatic relations with Afghanistan if it continued to harbour Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda was not realistic, because not only would the United States need us to have access to Afghanistan, at least until the Taliban fell, but such decisions are the internal affair of a country and cannot be dictated by anyone. But we had no problem with curbing terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. We had been itching to do so before the United States became its victim.

We just could not accept demands two and three. How could we allow the United States “blanket overflight and landing rights” without jeopardising our strategic assets? I offered only a narrow flight corridor that was far from any sensitive areas. Neither could we give the United States “use of Pakistan’s naval ports, air bases, and strategic locations on borders.” We refused to give any naval ports or fighter aircraft bases. We allowed the United States only two bases – Shamsi in Balochistan and Jacobabad in Sindh – and only for logistics and aircraft recovery. No attack could be launched from there. We gave no “blanket permission” for anything.

The rest of the demands we could live with. I am happy that the US government accepted our counterproposal without any fuss. I am shocked at the aspersion being cast on me: that I readily accepted all preconditions of the United States during the telephone call from Colin Powell. He did not give any conditions to me. These were brought by the US ambassador on the third day.

Having made my decision, I took it to the Cabinet. Then I began meeting with a cross section of society. Between September 18 and October 3, I met with intellectuals, top editors, leading columnists, academics, tribal chiefs, students, and the leaders of labour unions. On October 18, I also met a delegation from China and discussed the decision with them. Then I went to army garrisons all over the country and talked to the soldiers. I thus developed a broad consensus on my decision.

This was an analysis of all the losses/harms we would have suffered. if we had taken an anti-US stand. At the same time, I obviously analysed the socio-economic and military gains that would accrue from an alliance with the West. I have laid down the rationale for my decision in all its details. Even with hindsight, now, I do not repent it. It was correct in the larger interest of Pakistan. I am confident that the majority of Pakistanis agree with it.

Source: The Nation

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Musharraf marks Pakistan’s Independence Day

August 15, 2011

DUBAI: The former president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, hosted a celebration marking the country’s Independence Day in Dubai yesterday.

The event was one of many taking place across the Emirates as expatriates celebrated in low-key fashion due to Ramadan.

More than 2,500 guests attended the function in the Dubai World Trade Centre where they listened to a short speech.

“Today isn’t about me and it isn’t about my political party, this is Pakistan’s day,” said Mr Musharraf. “Today is a happy day. Today all Pakistanis should remember Quaid-e-Azam [Pakistan’s founder Muhammed Ali Jinnah] and August 14, 1947.”

He said he remembered the birth of the nation vividly and recalled a train journey from his place of birth in the Indian city of Delhi to Karachi a few days before partition.

And upon his arrival he saw thousands of people at the station. “Everybody was crying and on that day I thought that was what freedom meant.”

Quoting a speech by Mr Jinnah he said the first duties of a government were to maintain law and order, tackle corruption and black marketeers, improve religious tolerance and end nepotism and poverty. He said none of these were being carried out by Pakistan’s current leadership.

“There are religious and ethnic difficulties but there should not be,” he said. “It should not matter if you are from Baluchistan, Sindh or Punjab. We are all Pakistanis,” he added.

“There should be no religious intolerance inside Pakistan and it shouldn’t matter if you are Sikh, Muslim, Christian or Hindu.”

He added that he planned to return to Pakistan on March 23.

Dozens of Pakistani expatriates gathered at the country’s embassy in Abu Dhabi and consulate in Dubai to view flag-raising ceremonies yesterday morning.

Other members 250

of the community decided to celebrate a day earlier. The Pakistan Association Dubai (PAD) held a celebratory iftar on Saturday.

Rizwan Fancy, a community welfare officer at PAD, said: “We held a small iftar event on Saturday to celebrate Independence Day. It was held in the PAD centre and we had about 150 people take part.

“There was a speech and lecture about what Independence Day means to Pakistanis and how important it is to work to help improve the situation there.”

He said the celebrations were less exuberant compared with previous years due to the holy month.

“Prayers were said and after we had opened our fasts we brought out a cake to celebrate Pakistan Day.

“We are all expatriates in this country so our home is Pakistan and we want to work so it is a good and stable country,” Mr Fancy added.

Source: The National

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