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Archive for the ‘Mushrraf in UK’ Category
Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf spoke to RFE/RL’s Akbar Ayazi in London following his announcement that he was forming a new party, the All Pakistan Muslim League:
Pervez Musharraf: Well, I am forming this new party because on the political landscape of Pakistan I don’t see any other party which can deliver Pakistan from the darkness in which it is at present finding itself. And that is the reason why I am making this party. And I am trying to introduce — I will try to a new political culture in Pakistan, a new democratic culture, a democratic political culture in Pakistan, through this party. This is the main reason.
But, as far as your point, that I, something that I could not achieve. I achieved a lot for Pakistan in all fields, all socio-economic fields. Not one of them was left unattended, and not in one of them did I not make progress; major progress. The failure was in the political field, so therefore now, when I come with political authority, political legitimacy of the support of the people of Pakistan, I feel that the situation would be much better.
RFE/RL: You said there were some problems politically that were not achieved. If I can ask you, do you blame any particular party, any particular group? Do you blame the West, particularly the United States, for the elections, and also these failures that you refer to?
Musharraf: No, I don’t blame anyone. It was internal, it was domestic. My actions, only in the last year of my tenure, as I said, other than socioeconomic, even in the last year when there was, my popularity plummeted downwards, even then there was socioeconomic progress and we were going very well as far as the state’s development was concerned. But there was an issue of the — with the judiciary, which got politicized. The political opponents politicized it, came onto the streets, and that led to snowballing of effects, when [former Prime Minister] Benazir [Bhutto] came and she also got assassinated. That led to further turmoil and complications. Well, that was the main reason; otherwise I don’t blame anybody else.
RFE/RL: Mr. President, give me a picture of Pakistan, the current Pakistan, as far as security, stability, socioeconomic, and it’s international status. Give me a picture of Pakistan now, please.
Musharraf: Well, at this moment, the picture is certainly dismal. But I know, as far as Pakistan is concerned, having governed it for nine years, more than nine years, that Pakistan has tremendous potential. It has the dynamism, it has the resources to stand on its own feet and perform socioeconomically.
Unfortunately, at this moment, because of the turmoil in law and order, turmoil of the economy going down, we are not, and the governance which is unable to meet the challenges that Pakistan is facing today, these are the reasons that we see this dismal condition that Pakistan finds itself in.
Otherwise, if we put our act together, I know Pakistan can perform again socioeconomically. We ought to be able to curb terrorism and extremism, we ought to remove the political turmoil in Pakistan and administer Pakistan well.
RFE/RL: Two days ago in the announcements of the party in London, you said that a state that cannot provide for its people is a failed state. Do you consider Pakistan currently a failed state? Or do you see it going toward becoming a failed state unless things are fixed?
Musharraf: No, I meant quite the opposite. It is — that is absolutely right, that is what I said. But I also said that Pakistan has all the resources, so it’s not a shortage of resources, a shortage of capabilities; it is actually a leadership failure.
So the leadership is unable to harness all the potential that Pakistan has, so therefore a failed state would be if you don’t have and you cannot provide, but if the leadership continuously fails to harness all the resources for the betterment of Pakistan, yes indeed, unfortunately, we’ll keep going down. And, ultimately, I dread to say that, we may arrive at the same state that we were in ’99, when people were saying that Pakistan is a failed state, it’s a defaulted state. So, that condition needs to be arrested, before we slide to that level.
RFE/RL: You mentioned that the late Benazir Bhutto returned back to Pakistan. Mr. President, this would be a great opportunity to tell us, when your plane is going to land in Pakistan to further the cause of your party, and bring these changes that you envision for Pakistan?
Musharraf: Well I wish I could give you a date. I cannot give you a date at this moment.
Musharraf: Well, my belief is, or my calculation is, that before the next elections I must be in Pakistan. Now that is, now when are the next elections, that is a big question mark. And how long before the next election I need to create a certain environment, which I am in the process of doing. Once I create that environment, then I will be prepared to go home.
RFE/RL: The reason I ask for a date was that some people are skeptical, a leader announcing a party outside Pakistan, can he lead, can he get the masses together, so this is what the concern is. Do you think you can do that from London, if you don’t return to Pakistan?
Musharraf: Yes it is, yes it is doable from London. Having said that, I would agree that ultimately, the bigger surge towards the party will be when I am there, personally. So while we prepare as I said, we prepare the grounds, and make up, form a party, draw people towards us, once that environment is created, I land in Pakistan and then I create that upsurge in the movement towards my party. That is what my plan is.
RFE/RL: Two days ago, you not only surprised me and the media of course, and many analysts and those who follow Pakistan closely, probably you’re the only leader and the only president that apologized for his mistakes or his failures. And you say there are reasons behind it. Would you like to take this opportunity and tell us the reasons?
Musharraf: Well, first of all, what are the mistakes that I was apologizing for is the question. Yes indeed, I apologized and I apologized only because I thought in the last year, after eight years of successful governance taking Pakistan forward socioeconomically in all fields as I said, it was the last year, the ninth year, which caused the turmoil and created the problem.
Now it is there that a number of issues arose. And I would say the biggest was this issue of NRO and the actions against the judiciary which led to turmoil in Pakistan. They may have been legal, they may have been constitutional, but it led to turmoil, negative effects on the state. And they are the ones that I apologized for.
RFE/RL: You also say that the All Pakistan Muslim League’s new party would not allow any law of Pakistan to be out of the Koranic frames, from the Islamic Koranic frames. The Taliban also says that we want everything to be in the Islamic Koranic frames. What will be the difference between what you’re saying, and what they’re saying?
Musharraf: Well, basically, in principle we are all Muslims. And there is no difference. Difference is in the interpretation. What are they meaning, what am I meaning. I am meaning, obviously, a very educated, well-understood concept of Islam, progressive concept, educated concept of Islam, in accordance with the Koran and Sunnah.
But, unfortunately, the interpretation the Taliban make is a very obscurantist interpretation. So, I don’t want to get into the debate of what the nuances, of — obviously there are many sects and sub-sects in Islam, I don’t want to get involved in that at all. It is the good Islamic scholars who guide us on these issues. There’s an Islamic ideology council in Pakistan who guides us on these, who ought to guide us, guide Pakistan on Islamic issues. So, therefore, I mentioned that in the constitution, because we are an Islamic Republic of Pakistan, no law can be enacted which is repugnant to the Koran and Sunnah. There’s a lot of difference between the obscurantist approach. I mean, they would like to have Qazi courts and a total undoing [of] the legal structure and placing their own Muavins as, giving fatwas and having courts of their own, etc. These are not, I don’t think they are included in the Koranic concept. So, there’s a lot of debate that one would like to avoid getting into here.
RFE/RL: You also announced jihad against corruption and nepotism. When you left Pakistan, the “war on terror,” that Pakistan as an ally of the United States and the West and Afghanistan, you all together started this war against terror. When you left Pakistan it wasn’t complete, and it still continues. What do you think, how can you win this jihad against corruption and nepotism in Pakistan?
Musharraf: Yes. Before I answer this, one part of the last part, the last question. Their attitude towards women, for example, women, they believe in obscurantism, of women being kept inside homes and not getting educated. I am of quite the opposite view, because I think the Islamic view on women is certainly an emancipated woman, not the backward woman that they are talking of. So there are a lot of differences like that.
Now, as far as jihad towards illiteracy and poverty; yes, indeed we have to launch a jihad against it. And that we call in Islam “jihadi akbar.” While we have misconceived jihad only to mean fighting, there is a bigger jihad, “jihadi akbar,” which is a jihad against poverty, illiteracy, backwardness, and that is what I meant by doing that, and we were actually doing it ourselves, we had launched a jihad against….
RFE/RL: But how are you going to win it? What’s your strategy for winning it?
Musharraf: There is a strategy which I have written in the manifesto even, the covenant that I have given to every one when I was giving that lecture. My vision. Basically, it is a public-private combination. There is a — we have to provide a holistic approach towards education, meaning a wide literacy improvement, but in literacy improvement, we need to have private participation. We had created an organization called NCHD, National Commission on Human Development. They had gone into the grassroot level to provide feeder schools in every village.
So this is the thing required for improving literacy. And then we need to go into primary and secondary education, where again there are many philanthropists operating in Pakistan. We need to reinforce them to spread quality education more at the grassroots level. And then we are talking of, I am of the view, other than higher education, which we need to concentrate on science and technology, we have to then bifurcate going towards vocational training, giving skills to the people.
That is where I am very much inclined towards, after primary or middle school people should be diverted towards skill development so that they can become a skilled force and they can get jobs anywhere in the world. That is what my belief in education is, and also if you’re talking of health and poverty allegation, well we have done a lot, poverty alleviation, health, employment generation, this will take me a long lecture….
RFE/RL: Mr. President, I want to come back to this Taliban thing. I remember, if I am wrong please correct me, in 2001 you called Taliban “strategic partners,” and at what point, if I’m wrong correct me please, is that you said “Taliban are mostly Pashtuns”‘ And now we have this terminology of Punjabi Taliban. Do you still believe in these two concepts? That they are strategic partners and Taliban are all Pashtuns, while we have new terminology, it’s called Punjabi Taliban.
Musharraf: I have never once said that they are our strategic partners.
RFE/RL: Maybe I am wrong.
Musharraf: Never once. I don’t believe that. Even when we had recognized the Taliban in the ’90s. When I was an officer.
RFE/RL: I think it was 2001, I’m referring to that time….
Musharraf: ’99, 2000, yes we had good relations with them. But I never believed in the obscurantism of the Taliban. We don’t want Talibanization of Pakistan. I have never called them, they’re our “strategic partners” or anything. It may have, we were on the side of the Taliban, alright, against the Northern Alliance, because the Northern Alliance was being aided by India and Russia. Taliban were all Pakhtun [Pashtun], who had ethnic, historical, geographic links with the Pakhtun on Pakistan side, therefore we are on their side. So I may have made a comment on that issue. But to expect Talibanization, the same Taliban spreading into Pakistan, I would never…
RFE/RL: What’s your view on Punjabi Taliban?
Musharraf: Yes, now. Now this has expanded. Previously, yes indeed, I was talking of Afghanistan. That all Taliban are Pakhtun, but all Pakhtun are not Taliban. I was talking of Afghanistan.
Because I believe that Pakhtuns should be taken on board. And given their legitimate share in governance, which is the dominant position in governance in Afghanistan. Therefore I was saying, take Pakhtun, win them away from the Taliban.
But what we are talking now, what you are talking, is now that that Taliban has expanded, it has its implications in Pakistan. And now people from Punjab, and these are some extremists groups in Punjab, who are joining the Taliban. And, well, we could call them Punjabi Taliban. Taliban basically is a student, is a religious student, really. So yes, there are Taliban in Punjab.
RFE/RL: How dangerous are Baluchis? They’re not fighting, or whatever they’re doing, the struggle they have, the some kind of activities they have, it’s not based on the extremism like the Islamic extremism, as the Taliban are in Pakhtunkhwa. They probably fight mostly on their own agenda, could be nationalistic, regional. How dangerous are they for Pakistan?
Musharraf: Well, they are posing a threat at the moment. But I know that this threat is not at all as it is being portrayed in certain quarters.
We must understand the ethnic division of Baluchistan. Baluchistan is 50 percent Pakhtun. And they are the one who have their border with Afghanistan. And they are traders basically, they have orchards, they trade. Then the southern part of Baluchistan from Pangoor, Turbut, and southwards to the coast, it’s a different culture altogether, Makhran. So what we are talking of now, the problem area is in the center in Bukhti, Mari and Mangal tribes, Baluch tribes.
Now there only some elements. I know that they were totally pacified. There are some elements, who tend to be anti-Pakistan. They are against the integrity of Pakistan. And that is what I said the day before yesterday, that they need to be crushed. Anyone who is against Pakistan’s integrity ought to be crushed. What we did in Baluchistan, as far as progress and development is concerned, I challenge anybody, collectively, for 50 years, if what anything that happened in Baluchistan comes near what I did during my tenure of seven, eight years for Baluchistan. We have built dams for them. We have made roads for them. We have given them gas in remotest areas, because they were cribbing that their gas is being used elsewhere in Pakistan, not to themselves.
So, we’ve done so much for them. In fact, their development project budget, given to Baluchistan, was more than one, some two years, more than given to Punjab. So, therefore, anyone who is talking of, against me or my policies towards Baluchistan has malicious intent. He is not for the integrity and solidarity of Pakistan. And these are the people that are creating trouble. They are in small numbers. They can easily be controlled.
RFE/RL: Mr. President, your party’s slogan is that “Sub sapelae Pakistan,” “First Pakistan,” but in general in the West, there’s a perception that the Pakistani military, particularly Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), is always the solution for Pakistan. There’s this perception that the military is everything, that is what it is about Pakistan. How will you end this perception, and how can we go beyond this for Pakistan? Are you in contact with General Ashfaq Kayani?
Musharraf: Well, no, I am not in contact. But, I do speak to him occasionally on, if there’s some special reason, I do speak. I can speak to him.
Now, we should not involve the army into the politics. I would like to come into the politics, into the democratic dispensation of Pakistan on my own feet. There is no need of assistance from anyone. It is the people of Pakistan who need to support me and back me up. That is the way to come forward and win, and not through, on the shoulders of anybody else, as you said about ISI or the army. But I served with the army for 44 or 45 years. I can’t even imagine in my wildest dreams that the army in comparison with anyone else, would prefer somebody else to me.
RFE/RL: Of course. My point was, how can Pakistan in general, and your party, end this perception for Pakistan and bring this new era to Pakistan that the military is, that Pakistan does not mean the Pakistani Army. Pakistan is Pakistan; it’s the people, the 80 million people. My point was, that we have a vision, or your party has a vision to end this perception among the Westerners, particularly.
Musharraf: To end this perception….?
RFE/RL: Yes, to end…
Musharraf: What perception…?
RFE/RL: This perception that Pakistan is all about its military and ISI. Everything has to be, the solution is military.
Musharraf: Well, no. I don’t think that is correct at all. We, certainly, the military provides the stability to Pakistan. Provides the integrity to Pakistan. It’s a great integrative force. It integrates people from all provinces. That way it is a force which ensures the solidarity and integrity of Pakistan.
But to say that it’s only, to think that Pakistan only needs to be handled by the military, that is not correct. We have to go on a democratic course. What we ought to be looking for is to tailor democracy according to the needs of Pakistan. We need to institute checks and balances in Pakistan. So that, other than the military, we create other institutions, which can ensure the stability and continuity of Pakistan, and deliver for Pakistan socioeconomically. That is what I see. The army is there to provide stability and backup, but it has to be the democratic culture, the democratic force which needs to look after Pakistan.
RFE/RL: What would you say to those people who say that Pakistan is not doing enough in the war on terror. The Chechens, the Uzbeks, the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban, the foreigners, Al-Qaeda, they’re all operating in the mountains somewhere there, and so the military’s not doing much, or Pakistan in general is not doing much. And also there’s a belief that certain elements in the ISI or the military are still supporting or sympathizing with the Taliban. What’s your view on this? How can we stop this?
Musharraf: No, that’s a perception, misperception being created, also by some Afghan official circles, senior official circles, which is not correct at all. I think we are not achieving, doing enough in Afghanistan. That is the reason that the Taliban upsurges there. The upsurge is in Afghanistan. It has its effects in Pakistan. They may be coming into Pakistan, they have sanctuaries in Pakistan, they have support, they have Taliban in the mountains of Pakistan. But the main force, the concentration of Taliban is in Afghanistan.
So this is what misperception is being created, that it is Pakistan. You win in Afghanistan; you will also win in Pakistan. You win in Pakistan; I don’t think you are going to win in Afghanistan. So, it is quite the opposite. While the army is doing a hell of a lot, it has suffered causalities. It has taken action in Swat [Valley], in Baduar Agency, the northern one, in South Waziristan, in Khyber agency. So they have taken major actions and controlled situations to an extent.
If you think everything will be hunky-dory after their action, no, this is guerilla warfare. Guerilla warfare continues. It will keep simmering for some time. So, the Pakistan Army has done a lot. We need to pacify there in Afghanistan. We need to win there. And then now a fresh element of mujahedin groups operating in Kashmir. And their linkages and fallout on Pakistan, were these organizations like…. They are Pakistan-based, they have tremendous public sympathy.
So as Kashmir starts boiling, which it is today, the impact of these organizations also keep rising. And their linkages with Taliban is what is creating the Punjabi Taliban as you were saying. And this is the complexity of the situation in Pakistan. So we need to win everywhere. Pakistan Army and ISI is doing well in Pakistan. We will fend for ourselves.
You do well in Afghanistan, and stop putting blame on the Pakistan Army and ISI, whereas sitting on the Pakistan side we could easily put blame on you. What have you done in Afghanistan? If we are talking of people crossing into Pakistan and going to and from across the border, why is it Pakistan’s responsibility to stop them? Why is it not coalition and Afghan responsibility, at least we should share responsibility 50-50 on the borders, stop their movement? Why is everything has to be done by Pakistan unfortunately, therefore Pakistan is failing. I would say everyone is failing. You fail, you first win, on the, first succeed on the Afghanistan side.
RFE/RL: When you were president you didn’t launch a military operation against the Taliban, as a former general do you support the current military operation by the army and how do you see it?
Musharraf: I don’t know how you say that, I moved three divisions, two divisions plus two brigades, into the tribal agencies, in 2006, maybe, ’05 or ’06. So it was I who moved them into that, and we started our operations in South Waziristan.
We were, first of all; you see, times kept changing. And situations kept evolving. After 9/11, Al Qaeda and Taliban, mainly came into the mountains of Pakistan and into our cities. So first action, by law enforcement agencies, more, more intelligence, and police and second-line forces, clean up our cities. So we’ve gone after Al-Qaeda in our cities. In all the cities of Pakistan we eliminated so many of them.
They ran into the mountains of South Waziristan, that is when, and North Waziristan. That is when I moved two divisions into South and North [Waziristan], this was I think in 2005, and we started operating against them now. In South Waziristan they were in [the] hundreds. They ran from there then into North Waziristan because of military action, the only military action. We used helicopters, we used the air [force], so all the action was done there. Then in North Waziristan these actions took place in North Waziristan it became one big force. So all this we’ve done. They went into Swat, in my time, in 2007.
RFE/RL: Do you think they’re achieving this goal now?
Musharraf: Well they are, I think. I think they are doing a good job, I think we need to pacify all these regions, including North Waziristan, we need to concentrate more, focus more on extremism in Pakistan. Extremism in the society. Because this needs to be checked; this is what is fueling terrorism, and fueling the linkage with the Taliban, so therefore I think we need to concentrate on this breeding ground of terrorism, and then control terrorism with force, that is the overall strategy that we ought to adhere to.
Now when we do this, certainly Pakistan’s army is overstretched. It is dealing with Al-Qaeda, it is dealing with Taliban, it is dealing with extension of Taliban into places like Swat. And then the floods came, it is dealing with floods also, and then it has to maintain borders on the Indian side against external threat. So the army is overstretched.
I believe that we should create stronger second-line forces. Which are there, we need to equip them more with tanks and guns, and, so that they take on the job as a front-line force against Taliban or Al-Qaeda, and the army remains in its supportive role. So we’ll have to do more in order to suppress this terrorism and extremism, whether it is Al-Qaeda or Taliban or extremists in our society, we need to bank more on second-line forces, with army as a backup.
RFE/RL: Mr. President, if President Asif Ali Zardari is removed from power — not through a military coup, but a judicial coup — would this be a blow to democracy in Pakistan?
Musharraf: Well, I wouldn’t like to comment on this. One, if you examine whether whatever steps you take are judicially correct, after all, we were three pillars of the governance — the judicial pillar, the executive, and the legislative. So the judiciary has its own role to make sure that the judicial pillar performs in its own compartment of giving justice and interpreting laws correctly. And I only hope that they apply those laws correctly.
RFE/RL: There always have been ups and downs in the relations between the United States and Pakistan as far as allies and the war on terror. Do you really believe the U.S. and Pakistan are genuine allies and honest to each other, especially the United States is honest to Pakistan? If yes, if not, why?
Musharraf: Well, I think the relationships of states is based on interests. And I think at this moment the United States’ interest in Pakistan, and Pakistan’s interest in the United States, is great. Therefore, I strongly believe that they will remain partners to fight against terrorism and extremism.
Well, there are aberrations, I would call them, where some people pass remarks and pass comments, which may be wrong. These are sensitive times. We must not pass comments, irresponsible comments. We should think a lot before we say anything. We must not show to the enemy — whether it is terrorist, whether it is Taliban, Al-Qaeda — that we are squabbling among ourselves, because that conveys weakness to them. So that is a problem.
But on a strategic plane, there is no doubt in my mind that there is a commonality of objectives and a commonality of views.
RFE/RL: I know you strongly disagree with the United States’ announcement to leave Afghanistan maybe next year, and you mentioned that in your statement the other day. If they leave, do you think India will be a major player in the region?
Musharraf: India can add to the confusion, all right, because India is already trying to create an anti-Pakistan Afghanistan. So if they carry on doing that, then there’ll be a tussle between India and Pakistan. On a third country, which is Afghanistan. That would be most unfortunate.
We have to fight terrorism and extremism and defeat it. Now, [when] the United States and the coalition forces go, certainly there’ll be a big pressure and the threat will be on Pakistan and even India. Now if we were to collaborate against terrorism and extremism, in our respective spheres, in a positive manner, we’ll be able to withstand this menace. If we were to squabble between ourselves, and fight each other, trying to stab each other in the back, in Afghanistan or in our respective countries, that would be a very sad day. Sad for the region. Sad for both the countries.
RFE/RL: You partially answered this question. You live in Europe now, and you see how easy it is to live in Europe between countries and how people move around. Do you envision a day — or how do you envision this — that people of Afghanistan, of Pakistan, of India, in this region will live like people in Europe? They would be just like — like this is just one country and people are living in peace, and together? Do you envision it? Is it possible?
Musharraf: Everything is possible, but it’s a distant goal. It’s a distant goal because of what we are going through. The issue is of disputes. [The] issue is of problems that we are facing. And the issue is of different views of the problem that we are facing.
As far as Pakistan-India is concerned, the issue is of disputes between our two countries. Pakistan considers India posing an existential threat to it. So therefore, there are very major disputes between us, conflict between us. We need to resolve those conflicts first and then indeed, yes, there’s a chance of a similar thing happening. There are religious differences, there are ethnic differences, so therefore this society is not as — then there is the problem of being less educated, we are less educated, so the people can be swayed by ulterior motives.
So it’s not as easy as Europe. Europe is a very educated and progressive society. Our region is backward, it’s poor, it’s illiterate. So I think everything is doable, as I said, but it’s in the long-term perspective.
RFE/RL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced a grand council the other day that, and the U.S. is somehow supporting it, that they will start negotiating with the Taliban. Does your new party support this kind of movement, or this kind of initiative to negotiate with the Taliban?
Musharraf: I have been saying since 2002, after 9/11 — I call it the third blunder, the biggest blunder, that we did not change strategy after 9/11 — having defeated the Taliban, their command structure totally smashed, disorganized, we could have easily taken Pakhtun on board, given them their legitimate position of governance in Afghanistan. We didn’t do that.
So now — that is when I said all Taliban are Pakhtun, but all Pakhtun are not Taliban — there was a need of changing strategy and getting Pakhtuns on board. This was not done. It has not been done even now.
Now we are saying what I said in 2002-03. But in a different way. They are saying we need to deal with moderate Taliban. My stand is that there is no moderate Taliban; there’s Taliban, and there’s Pakhtun. So we ought to deal with Pakhtun. And those Pakhtun who have no ideological affinity with the Taliban — we need to identify them, those tribes, we need to give them strength, we need to make them stand on their own feet that they can confront the Taliban. This is what we need to do. We need to take the Pakhtun on our side.
RFE/RL: Not as a president, a former president, or not as a general, as a Pakistani — give me one thing that you regret you didn’t do for Pakistan, as a Pakistani, when you were in power. And give me one thing that you’re very proud of, that you did for Pakistan. The one thing. Number one that you didn’t do, that you regret you didn’t, and the one you did, and you’re proud of it — quite a lot.
Musharraf: Well, I, honestly speaking, I wouldn’t be able to say what I did not do for Pakistan. I touched on every element of Pakistani society, including sports and culture and heritage. So I’ve done everything. The degree of success has varied. In some, met only 10-15 percent success, in some, met 90 percent success. So therefore I wouldn’t be able to pinpoint, this is an area in which I did not touch it at all.
Well, with second thought, maybe yes. Maybe one area where we hardly succeeded was population control. We should have done better in population control. As far as by doing, I think the, on the economic side — turning the economy of Pakistan around and putting it on an upsurge, was one element due to which everything else followed. My being able to influence education, health, poverty alleviation, employment generation, development strategy of Pakistan — whether it is agriculture, or water management, or communication infrastructure. Everything was possible, because I put the economy of Pakistan on an upsurge.
RFE/RL: Is Mrs. Musharraf going to support you in this challenge you’re taking, and she’s with you?
Musharraf: Yes, she is obviously with me…
RFE/RL: In this political future that you’re looking at. The return you’re planning.
Musharraf: She has her…she’s worried. But she’s with me, yes.
RFE/RL: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for your time. It was a pleasure.
Musharraf: Thank you very much.
Islamabad—The assertive youth of the world are in a defiant mood. Very casually dressed tourists were spending and enjoying. But the Britshers themselves were not spending much. Economic depression of 2008, and now, much criticized, rather tremendously abhorred, involvement of Britain’s Armed Forces in the “unwinnable” war in Afghanistan was putting some what unbearable strain on British dwindling economy. The locals were not in a “feel good” state of mind. But Pakistanis looked comparatively more depressive. The Pakistanis of all walks of life, whom I met during my one-week stay in London, were extremely critical and disappointed over their motherland’s present set-up on three counts:
1. There is no governance not to call of good governance in our country, where we would like to be buried despite all that.
2. The Federation of Pakistan is getting more fragile with danger of Balkanization.
3. The increasing distancing of two trusted friends of Pakistan thus fast eroding of Pakistan’s strategic interests.
General Pervez Musharraf:
Contrary to public perception here in Pakistan, the new abode of the former President, 28 Castleacre, is just 3-bed modest apartment. Not luxuriously decorated. It is a ten-storey building with three apartments on each floor. Some prominent Pakistanis like Mr Aftab Sherpao, and Lt Gen (Retd) Zahid Ali Akbar, former Chairman WAPDA, have apartments of their own in another building about 100 yards away as pointed out to me by the former President, while we were looking the surroundings through a window of his apartment. Mr. Rehman Malik, the strongman of the Government and Sir Anwar Parvez, a Pakistani business tycoon have comfortable residences in two adjoining buildings. Thus the area of General Musharraf’s new abode can be described as 5% Gulbarg, Lahore of Pakistan, while Mr. Shaukat Aziz has an elegant apartment in a posh all-gora sector.
General Pervez Musharraf was a refreshing model of strong commitment, unwavering confidence, and with usual commando exuberance. My two-hour long interaction with General Pervez Musharraf convinced me that he was all willing to play another innings in Pakistan and that too on the front foot. He totally and stubbornly rejects all awkward bouncers, some of which may injure him.
The former President is convinced that all of his Presidential actions were taken after due consideration and on the basis of “Pakistan first”. Some of the top Grade 22 politicians of Pakistan, belonging to various political parties, but mostly with PML (Q) identity, are in touch with him on a regular basis. Many politicians who are somebody in the Pakistani political set-up call on him when they visit London and all of them have to wait for a day or two to fix an appointment. Fast track meetings are possible only if one routes through Mr Shaukat Aziz who is in touch with his former “boss” on a 24-hour basis.
The former President is thinking in terms of forming a new Muslim League Party which may take all splinter groups of Muslim League, under his wings. “Pir Sahib has assured me that his hurs will enthusiastically receive me at the airport whenever I return to Pakistan”, General Musharraf told me. Even Makhdoom Amin Fahim had a candle – light dinner with him at Dubai when both of them were in UAE to attend the fabulous marriage party of the son of Mr Sadaruddin Hashwani, fondly known as Sadru.
However, it is pertinent to mention that the former President is not likely to come back in the near future. He has an enviable statesman clout in many countries. Khadim Al-Haramain Al-Sharifain powerful King Abdullah has extended him an invitation to visit the Kingdom as his personal guest. He is also scheduled to deliver 14 lectures at various establishments in USA where Henry Kissinger, a former US Secretary of State, will be a co-speaker in some of the engagements. General Pervez Musharraf has acquired a status of an accomplished, par excellence speaker, who speaks with courage and conviction. So, to be brief, he will in the near future not he back to Pakistan because of his impending international engagements.
I wish some of our single-track revengeful politicians in Pakistan must have risen above their self and the former President, who enjoys tremendous respectability abroad, should have been “pardoned” and informally integrated with in the state institutions as a trouble shooter abroad if and when situation so demanded.
Read full report at “Pakistan Observer”. Click here.