Posted by: Administrator | 15 March, 2005

Musharraf again with Fareed Zakaria CNN

View CNN Video (here8 Nov 2009 (5)

Read interview below: This is a rush copy and may be updated. Interviewed 8 November 2009.

ZAKARIA: As we try to make very clear on this program, you can’t talk about the United States’ problems in Afghanistan without talking about the problems with Afghanistan’s next-door neighbor, Pakistan. Now, for almost 10 years, from 1999 until last year, Pervez Musharraf ruled over that nation, first as the army’s chief of staff, then as president of Pakistan. If anyone knows the Pakistani Army — what they are capable of and, moreover, what they are willing to do in this war on terror — it is Pervez Musharraf. If anybody knows the strategic landscape of the region, it is Pervez Musharraf.
And so, I talked with him a few days ago, when he was in the United States.
The conversation ranged widely, but I want to draw your attention to two issues in the first segment — Musharraf’s view of Hamid Karzai, which is very dim, but also, what kind of government is possible in Afghanistan. He is of the view that, Afghanistan always had a loose, consensual arrangement between the central government and the regions — a so-called “Misak-i Milli” — and we should try to return to that kind of arrangement, not a strong central government.


ZAKARIA: Thank you for joining us.


ZAKARIA: One of the lessons that many people draw from Vietnam is that, if you are going to be involved in counterinsurgency warfare in a different country, you need a reliable, local partner.
Let me ask you bluntly. Is President Karzai a reliable partner?

MUSHARRAF: In Afghanistan, yes, I think he’s a reliable man. But it’s not a question of reliability. It’s a question of his competence. It’s a question of his potential to be able to deliver on the key issue of getting the Pashtun on board through a political deal. Can he deliver on that? That is the point.

ZAKARIA: And, your view?

MUSHARRAF: Oh, no, I don’t think he can deliver on that.

ZAKARIA: That’s a very pessimistic — I mean, do you understand the import of what you’re saying? I mean, that’s a pretty devastating critique.

MUSHARRAF: Well, he should try. At least he should try. They’ve been trying to do that since (ph) years. They must 8 Nov 2009 (3)do that. They must get the Pashtuns on board.

ZAKARIA: So, has he been a — has he been corrupt? You know these reports that he relies on warlords, that he’s corrupt. In your experience — you dealt with him a lot in those years. Is this true?

MUSHARRAF: Well, I wouldn’t like to comment on that, because I don’t know. I don’t have information or intelligence of his corruption. But certainly, I heard (ph) reports of his brother’s involvement in gun-running, and maybe even drug-running. I don’t — I can’t substantiate 100 percent, but there were reports.

ZAKARIA: But what do we do about Karzai from here? Because, you know, you’re a practical man. Karzai may not be ideal. What do we do?

MUSHARRAF: Well, we are in a difficult situation, there is no doubt. I’ve been talking of how Afghanistan has been held together since the centuries under an arrangement called Misak-i Milli, a national covenant, a social-economic compact, where the four ethnic groups decided to remain together under the sovereignty of the king.

In ’79, the Soviets deposed the king. So, that glue that held them together is gone. So, what we are trying to do when we talk of political elements, we are trying to create another Misak-i Milli, or national covenant.

Now, how can that national covenant take place when the Pashtun, the 50 percent majority, is not on board? So, we have to take them on board.

ZAKARIA: Now, I remember when we sat down in your office in Rawalpindi some years ago when you were running Pakistan. And we talked about — there were proposals, as you remember. Hillary Clinton was saying, why don’t you let U.S. forces go into Pakistani territory and deal with these terrorists.

You said, look, you don’t understand. If you introduce foreign forces into these areas, you will create more problems than you will solve. Let the Pakistani Army deal with it.

Why is the same not true in Afghanistan?

MUSHARRAF: Yes, they are not welcome. Foreign troops are not welcome there. But now that they are there, we have to win. And quitting is not an option at all. I don’t think quitting is an option at all.

Anyone who is talking of quitting doesn’t understand the ramifications of quitting. They must — he must sit down and analyze what will happen if he were to quit there without a solution.

We have to defeat the al Qaeda, we have to dominate the Taliban, and we have to introduce a credible, legitimate government in Afghanistan. When we do this, we (ph) need (ph) to quit, after that, whatever time it takes. But we cannot leave before that.

The concept where you want to create a central, strong central government, governing the entire area of Afghanistan, I think is a little alien to the place. It’s a tribal society. And the tribes in their areas have held dominance in their respective areas. The king, who was the sovereign, maybe ruled Afghanistan through autonomy — tribal autonomy — through the tribal sardars.

So, now, if you are thinking of some kind of democracy where the central president is going to be all-powerful all over Afghanistan, now we are introducing something alien there.

So, we need to get all these people and find out — they should tell us — what is the political resolution? Do they want to stay together and shun terrorism, eliminate al Qaeda? How do they want to do it?

ZAKARIA: So, what you are describing, I have to say, there are elements of the Biden plan which you’re describing, in the sense that you’re saying, look. This is a decentralized country. Don’t try to artificially create a strong central government with a massive army. Work with the system, and try to focus on those elements of the Taliban that are sympathetic to al Qaeda, and draw the other ones away, rather than blanketing the whole place with troops.


ZAKARIA: I mean, it’s fair to say that there’s a — on the political side you agree with what…

MUSHARRAF: Yes, absolutely. That is the way — but from a position of strength.


MUSHARRAF: Now, if you did on the other side what General McChrystal is demanding, if you are thinking of reducing, no. You are weakening yourself. People there appreciate, they respect power and strength. They don’t respect cowardice and vacillation and — they don’t respect that.

So, let’s show power, which they respect, and then deal politically.

ZAKARIA: So, McChrystal first, then Biden, as it were.

MUSHARRAF: Simultaneous, yes. But you cannot weaken McChrystal.

ZAKARIA: Part of what you are saying, which, again, is something you’ve talked about for many years now, is talking to the Taliban.

Tell us what the problems are? Because you tried at various points to talk to the Pakistani versions of the Taliban.

How does one do it? Why is it that it has proved difficult? Or is it that people are not really trying in Afghanistan?

MUSHARRAF: No, no. You are talking of Taliban, who are, when (ph) on the Afghan side, they are Afghans. On our side, they are Pakistanis. We are dealing with our own people.

So, we need to wean them away from terrorism. We need to understand their problems, resolve them politically. That is what I am meaning.

ZAKARIA: And we will be right back with the former president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf.



ZAKARIA: And we are back with Pervez Musharraf.

In the second part of the conversation, we widened the topics to include not just Afghanistan, but Pakistan. Now, we are listening to an authentic representation of the mind of the Pakistani military. Musharraf repeatedly denies that the Pakistani military is in any way involved with the Taliban, but most commentators would disagree.

When I pointed out to him the odd fact that the leaders of the Afghan Taliban are all in a Pakistani city, Quetta, he flatly denied it.

And then you will really see the Pakistani military’s world view, when he accuses the Afghan government’s intelligence wing as being totally under the influence of India.

Now, see, Americans see Afghanistan as a problem on its own. Perhaps now we understand that Pakistan is linked in with it.

But in reality, there is a 60-year-old geopolitical rivalry at play here that we have just walked into, and it is between Pakistan and India. Pakistan has deep suspicions that one day America will leave, and India will end up in control in Afghanistan, which means that they view the Afghan government not as a partner, but as a potential problem.

Anyway, listen to part two of my conversation with Pervez Musharraf.


ZAKARIA: OK, let me ask you about Waziristan, since we’ve now gotten into the details of this area in Pakistan.

As you said, in South Waziristan, there is what is often called the Pakistani Taliban, headed by Baitullah Mehsud, who was just assassinated by a drone attack.

There are some people, Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani journalist, who says this is a moment of truth for the Pakistani army, because they are mounting an attack against — in South Waziristan — against the forces of Baitullah Mehsud, who are the Pakistani Taliban, the Taliban that attack the Pakistani state.

But in North Waziristan you have the other elements of extremist groups, radical groups, the so-called Haqqani faction of the Taliban, the Afghan Taliban — the people who tend to launch attacks against Afghanistan, against India, against places outside Pakistan.

This is the Pakistan army’s moment of truth. Will it take on both the Talibans? Or will it only take on the extremist groups that threaten Pakistan?

MUSHARRAF: Yes, you are absolutely right, that there are various elements, as you said, in South Waziristan and in North Waziristan.

I have been telling since long, since three or four years, please give me drones. I want to look at this Baitullah Mehsud, because he’s the one who assassinated Benazir Bhutto. And he is the one who is carrying out these suicide attacks, indoctrinating people. Dozens of suicide attackers we know have been indoctrinated. They are going to carry out bomb attacks.

ZAKARIA: The argument is that, you know, the Pakistani army somehow never seems to get around to attacking, in North Waziristan, those groups who attack either Afghanistan or Western targets or India. And the reason is that these groups, who were often supported in the past — not now, but in the past — by the Pakistani military. And that, therefore, somehow in this planning process, you never get around to North Waziristan.

MUSHARRAF: They will not support it. They will not support it. That was not the government policy. That was not the military policy.

However, there was ingress — always, in every group — there is an ingress of the ISI. And that is the efficiency, the effectiveness of the ISI. You must have ingress, so that you can influence all organizations. And it is this ingress of theirs — which doesn’t mean that they are supporting them, but they have ingress. They have some contacts, which can be used for their own advantage.

ZAKARIA: Do you expect to see attacks on the Haqqani faction of the Taliban on the Quetta Shura, on those elements in North Waziristan that so far have not attacked the Pakistani state, but are clearly responsible for terrorism?

MUSHARRAF: Certainly, they should be eliminated. If at all they are involved with — any group which is involved in 8 nov 2009cross-border activity and with al Qaeda must be controlled, checked and militarily also.

You’ve named Quetta Shura. No. This is again a word which is known and spoken everywhere here. I have been there, and this Quetta Shura exists, probably, from my time, when they — it was, for instance, them that — I have been telling the ISI, and the CIA also has been operating with them in Quetta. There’s a corps headquartered there — 12 corps headquarters, with a full corps. There is an army Frontier Corps, IDFC (ph) headquartered in Quetta.

How is it that this Quetta Shura is existing in Quetta?

ZAKARIA: You tell me.

MUSHARRAF: This is absolutely wrong. Yes, I will tell you.

But somehow, everyone has got this. It’s easier to — easy to pronounce, maybe, Quetta Shura. Quetta Shura is not a building where there are conferences taking place, and Mullah Omar is sitting there holding a conference, issuing instructions and orders, and maybe there is a flag of Quetta Shura on top, and we know the location.

ZAKARIA: But, General, the tone comes from them. They, the group around Mullah Omar, now call themselves the Quetta Shura, because they live in Quetta, which is…


ZAKARIA: … a Pakistani city.

MUSHARRAF: That is absolutely, 200,000 percent wrong.

ZAKARIA: What part?


ZAKARIA: They do not — they are not different (ph). 8 Nov 2009 (2)

MUSHARRAF: No. They are there. Mullah Omar will not be there. I am 100 percent sure. He cannot be there, because he would be mad to be there.

Because they control the southeastern part of Afghanistan. Most of it is under the control of Taliban.

Now, if I am the leader of the Taliban, and I’m controlling any area, why would I endanger myself to go to another place where there is an army and Frontier Corps, and American intelligence also operating there? Why would I like to go there? Why don’t I stay with my own area?

And in any case, he has never been in Pakistan. Mullah Omar, in those years of fighting against the Soviets, or before that. He is known to have been in Pakistan as a teenager, in some madrassa. He has never come to Pakistan. So, why would he be there?

Now, Quetta — coming back to Quetta Shura…

ZAKARIA: But you know, just look. American intelligence, the Afghan government, Afghan intelligence all say, Mullah Omar is in Pakistan.

MUSHARRAF: Afghan intelligence, Afghan president, Afghan government. Don’t talk of them. I know what they do. They are, by design, they mislead the world. They talk against Pakistan, because they are under the influence of Indian intelligence — all of them.

The Afghan intelligence entirely under the influence of Indian intelligence. We know that.

ZAKARIA: But General Musharraf…

MUSHARRAF: Let me come back to Quetta Shura. I must (ph)…

ZAKARIA: … but you’ve — this is important, because you are revealing why people, many, many people feel that Pakistan has a very antagonistic attitude towards Afghanistan.

You view Afghanistan as a client state of India. And therefore, you do not — you are not willing to really help Afghanistan succeed.

MUSHARRAF: No, not at all. That is not the case.

Whatever I am saying, I am not saying it here. I have given documentary evidence of all this to everyone. There is the documentary evidence. And we know the involvement of Indian intelligence, in India, with their intelligence.

I have given documentary evidence to everyone from top to bottom. Everyone knows it. And we have the documentary evidence.

ZAKARIA: What about your own situation? There are reports that cases against you are going to be instituted or reopened, and that you would have to leave Pakistan. Is that true?

MUSHARRAF: I am already in London, (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

No, I have to go back to Pakistan. And whatever actions I have taken have been constitutional and legal, legally correct, constitutionally correct. And all of my actions have been validated by the supreme court, by the assembly. (here)

So, one has to face whatever comes. Let’s see what happens when…

ZAKARIA: I don’t want to delve back into that whole controversy, because, of course, you replaced the court, which then validated your actions.

But do you regret — if there’s one regret, do you regret replacing the court, and risking — there are a lot of people, as you know…

MUSHARRAF: You know, I don’t want to…

ZAKARIA: … who say you should have chanced it, and the original court would have validated you anyway.

MUSHARRAF: I — no, I don’t want to get into that discussion. I thought whatever I did was in line with pursuing a  8 Nov 2009 (4)democratic course, consolidating democracy.

ZAKARIA: General Musharraf…

MUSHARRAF: But sometimes, having said that, let me say I — because I gave this answer — sometimes even when you do a right, now I realized, because the effects are negative. So, maybe one has to be pragmatic, even in doing the right.

ZAKARIA: So, maybe you do have a regret on that one front.

MUSHARRAF: Well, yes, we shouldn’t have, because Pakistan is suffering, and I regret that. I regret that Pakistan is suffering.

ZAKARIA: General Musharraf, a pleasure to have you.

MUSHARRAF: Thank you.


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